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News

A Business Development Opportunity for Social Entrepreneurs From Koç University

Koç University Social Impact Forum (KUSIF), in partnership with UniCredit Foundation and Vehbi Koç Foundation, started the “Change with Business” project to ensure the economic sustainability of the social enterprises in Turkey and to increase their social impact. For the first time in Turkey, a group of 20 experts came together from finance, investment, entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship sectors as well as from the academic and public circles, and they worked on a social finance framework to provide social enterprises access to financial mechanisms .

The project is carried out in cooperation with one of most well-established banks of Turkey, Yapı Kredi Bank, while the Center for Social Innovation, an important actor from the social entrepreneurship ecosystem, acts as the content partner and leading institutions of the social sector, Mikado Sustainable Development Consultancy, Ashoka Turkey and Impact Hub Istanbul, participate as supporting institutions. The activities that will be carried out as part of the “Change with Business” project will help reach three main goals. These are, to develop the know-how and skills of the social entrepreneurs, to support the creation of financing mechanisms for social entrepreneurs and to strengthen the social entrepreneurship ecosystem. Furthermore, throughout the project, Yapı Kredi Bank is going to share its expertise on financial tools and network with the project partners.

As part of the two-year-long project, in order to enable them develop sustainable business models, a training and mentorship program is going to be provided to the social entrepreneurs, who eliminate a social issues or need through their social enterprises. A social finance framework suitable to Turkey will also be developed with the project to allow social entrepreneurs use existing financing mechanisms.

Five social enterprises which successfully complete the training program will be given a grant of 10 thousand TL.
In order to expand their businesses and solidify their business models, five social enterprises which complete the “Change with Business” training programs will receive mentorship for 13 months on finance, investment, business development, marketing, social impact management and any other areas they need in addition to the 10 thousand TL grant provided by the UniCredit Foundation. Furthermore, for the first time in Turkey, a social entrepreneurship and finance fair is going to be organized to bring together stakeholders from the finance, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and public sectors, and investment in social entrepreneurs will be encouraged.

Activities will be organized to support the development of the relatively small sector of social entrepreneurship by improving the communication between the existing stakeholders and building a social entrepreneurship network. In addition, public advocacy activities will be supported and a social entrepreneurship and investment conference will be organized. As part of the “Change with Business” program, there are also plans to prepare a textbook on social entrepreneurship to serve as a resource for the development of this field in universities as it attracts increasingly more attention amongst young people, Again in this context, as part of the social entrepreneurship course of Koç University graduate students, the book, “Social Entrepreneurship in Turkey from the Perspective of Koç University Students” which consists of analyses and interviews with 16 Ashoka Turkey fellow social entrepreneurs, will be published.

Koç University, Vice President for Research and Development Prof. Dr. İrşadi Aksun stated, “Through Koç University Social Impact Forum, we are trying to improve social entrepreneurship’s academic and practical applications in Turkey. In addition, as a university, we are forming alliances with strong domestic and international partners to direct resources to social entrepreneurship sector. “Change with Business” project is the greatest example of this. As a university, we are developing application-oriented projects in line with the needs analyses, reports and research we prepare on social entrepreneurship. In this context, with this two-year-long project, we aimed to improve the know-how and skills of social entrepreneurs to enable them develop sustainable business models, to facilitate their access to financial mechanisms and to strengthen the social entrepreneurship ecosystem. We got together with strong foundations such as UniCredit Foundation and Vehbi Koç Foundation. We started a collaboration with Yapı Kredi, which is one of the leading banks in Turkey. We partnered with the Center for Social Innovation, which has substantial experience when it comes to social entrepreneurship. Also, having three important actors of the social sector in Turkey, namely Mikado Sustainable Development Consultancy, Ashoka Turkey and Impact Hub Istanbul along for the ride as supporters made our project stronger, more effective and more inclusive. We believe that we provide a sustainable contribution to the field with the collective impact we have created and we are glad to see that the project has already begun to inspire different collaborations."

Vehbi Koç Foundation General Manager Erdal Yıldırım provided information on the issue and said, “As Vehbi Koç Foundation, with the institutions we establish and the projects we support, we aim to create social benefit with change-making and replicable models that set the best example. Our founder, late Vehbi Koç’s vision has contributed to the creation and development of the field of philanthropy in Turkey. Therefore, in order to support the creation and development of the social benefit tools, we would like to carry the previous efforts in the field of social entrepreneurship forward and start a project to address the needs in this sector. We aim to see successful examples at the end of two years and witness the emergence of sustainable financial tools and a business model.”

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