With support from Japan, UNDP organizes “matchmaking” event for leading Turkish companies and women-led businesses


Women’s cooperatives and women entrepreneurs had an opportunity to explore possible business deals with leading Turkish companies at a matchmaking event organized yesterday in Istanbul by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The gathering event was part of a larger collaboration on women’s entrepreneurship between UNDP and the General Directorate of Development Agencies in the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology, supported by US$1.1 million in funding from the Government of Japan.

The business-to-business (B2B) event was attended by more than 40 representatives of leading retailers, manufacturers and e-commerce platforms from Turkey and 42 women from cooperatives and 19 Turkish and Syrian entrepreneurs from 36 provinces of Turkey.

“Our aim is to help enterprising women starting their own businesses to connect with the supply chains that are vital to reach big domestic and international markets,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “Women’s cooperatives and women-led firms have huge potential to improve the livelihoods and self-reliance of their members while supplying products for which we see there is demand on the market. But realizing this potential requires making connections, and that is what we expect today’s B2B matchmaking event to yield.” 

“I do believe that our women should not only be employed but also have a presence as entrepreneurs. For this reason, we carry out special projects and develop policies for women's entrepreneurship. We implement many end-to-end support programs, from capacity building activities to branding and from marketing to access to finance. Business to Social Cohesion, which we developed in cooperation with UNDP and supported by the Japanese Government, was a great opportunity to put these designs into practice. We have made our policy development process practical,” said Ahmet Şimşek, Deputy General Director of Development Agencies at the Ministry of Industry and Technology.

During sector-specific matchmaking sessions, women had a chance to meet company representatives, pitch their products and services, and explore collaboration opportunities.

In addition, well-known women entrepreneurs Demet Sabancı, Şehadet Çitil and Sanabel Marandi shared their success stories with participants as inspiration for the business journeys ahead.

A panel discussion featuring Pelin Özkan, the manager of Kapital Group; İzabela Erşahin, the founder of Bebemoss; Aslı Filinta, a fashion designer; and Musa Dağdeviren, the founder of Çiya Restaurant, provided advice to participants on how to cope with the current challenging global context. Topics discussed included the power of the local, the transformative effect of design, the driving forces behind fair commerce and e-commerce, customer relationship management, digitalization and new media landscape, all of which are essential for business success.

The B2B event is just one component of a project that has provided business development trainings and consultancy support to women entrepreneurs and women's cooperatives since December 2021. In addition to training, project participants will receive mentoring and grants to support their businesses. In addition, a study is under way to help market and promote locally sourced products. To that end, a website that publicizes traditional and local products and refers potential buyers to manufacturers will be developed.

Designed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project aims to increase women’s participation in social and economic life by enhancing the business skills of women entrepreneurs and women’s cooperatives. The project reflects UNDP’s commitment to build the self-reliance of Syrian refugees while strengthening the resilience of host communities.