In Focus: Some schemes, initiatives & policies for women entrepreneurs in Turkey
A transcontinental Eurasian country, Turkey has a diverse economy, with a GDP of approximately $800 billion, and it is considered one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The country has a strong business environment, with favorable tax laws, pro-business policies, and a well-educated workforce. Some key sectors in Turkey’s economy include manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, and finance. Additionally, Turkey is a member of the European Union, G20, and NATO, and it has a strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.
In the dynamic landscape of Turkish business, women entrepreneurs are emerging as key contributors to economic growth and innovation. Government initiatives, encompassing tax incentives, funding avenues, and mentoring programs, underscore a commitment to fostering gender diversity.
Here we delve into the evolving narrative of women entrepreneurship in Turkey, exploring the impact of supportive policies and the challenges that persist.
Join us as we navigate through some government policies, schemes and initiatives that help to shape the transformative role women entrepreneurs play in shaping Turkey’s economic landscape.
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> Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Services
It’s significant that Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Services continues to provide major relevant social assistance to women. Looking at statistics, women made up about 57% of beneficiaries of social aid in 2021.
Thus, the government’s assistance to women covers many aspects – like, they are entitled to regular cash aid if they are in need and widowed women receive regular monetary benefits. For families of soldiers and civilians recognized as “martyrs”, women are the main beneficiaries of aid allocated to those households; and women can apply for social aid through social assistance and solidarity foundations in each of the country’s 81 provinces and through the e-government website.
Mothers without social security and in need receive aid if they regularly bring their children to health checks, while expectant mothers are required to regularly have health checks and give birth at hospitals to be eligible for aid. Payments for each child are also part of a larger scheme to reinvigorate the population as the elderly population has increased by 24% in the past five years. Turkey once boasted one of the youngest populations in Europe, but the proportion of the elderly population is rapidly increasing. Indeed, projections show it could reach 11% within the next three years and exceed 16.3% by 2040.
> Family Support Centers (ADEM) and Social Solidarity Centers (SODAM)
The ministry also runs Family Support Centers (ADEM) and Social Solidarity Centers (SODAM) – to boost women’s inclusion in economic and social life. It also provides incentives and loans for female entrepreneurs. The focus is on cities and towns where socio-economic development is low and predominantly inhabited by disadvantaged communities; the centers and their affiliate offer a wide array of training classes, from vocational learning to cultural and sports courses. Conferences and seminars complement the efforts, offering women personal development, health care and civil rights education.
When it comes to the employment of women, their participation in the workforce still remains below that of men in Turkey. 2020 figures showed only 26.3% of women in the country over the age of 15 were employed. Majority of women are employed in the service and agriculture sectors, though Turkey seeks to diversify the employment statistics. Female entrepreneurs flourish in the country mainly due to a string of incentives provided by the government.
Also, to encourage more women to re-enter the workforce after giving up their careers to raise children, the government offers partial coverage of daycare costs for working mothers. It also increased the length of maternity leave for working women, and grandparents looking after the children also are entitled to allowances as part of the employment scheme. Other incentives include financial support for women’s cooperatives and interest-free loans for female entrepreneurs.
> Women’s Entrepreneurship Program
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program is an initiative aimed at promoting and supporting
women-led businesses in Turkey.
The program provides training, mentorship, and financial assistance to women entrepreneurs, with the goal of increasing their participation and success in the Turkish business landscape. It is designed to address the unique challenges that women entrepreneurs face, including lack of access to finance, insufficient skills and knowledge, and limited networking opportunities. By empowering women to start and grow their own businesses, the program contributes to social and economic development in Turkey, and helps to create a more supportive environment for women’s entrepreneurship in the country.
> WES – the European network to promote women’s entrepreneurship
The European Commission launched The European Network to Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship (WES); and it has members from 31 European countries (EU, Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Turkey). The delegates in the network represent central national governments and institutions with the responsibility to promote female entrepreneurship.
Most importantly, WES members provide advice, support, information and contacts regarding existing support measures for female entrepreneurs.
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