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In the framework of the Civil Society Dialogue V (CSD-V) Grant Programme “Improvement of Women Entrepreneurship with the EU”, the lead partner ERSIAD organised an extensive workshop in Erzincan on Friday 24 January 2020 in the presence of more then fifty attendees among who Mr. Osman Demirdöğen, General Secretary of KUDAKA( the Northeast Anatolia Development Agency), Mr. Akin Levent, President of Erzincan Yildirim University, Mr. Bekir Aksun, Mayor of Erzincan and Mr. Ali Arslantaş, Governor of Erzincan

In his welcome speech Mr. Tevhit Şevket Tavşanoğlu, president of the ERSIAD Ankara, emphasised on the importance of the project. The importance was recognised through the presence of KUDAKA, the Northeast Anatolia Development Agency, that in its own activity emphasises on the increase of participation of women in the labour market, applying positive discrimination towards women. It promotes also women entrepreneurship standing for the creation of 5 extra-jobs.

Group picture of the workshop

It was followed by the speech of the EAR-AER president, Mr. Nelu Neacsu in which he focused on the good collaboration with ERSIAD that have been able to develop, leading to a successful study visit of ERSIAD participants to the European institutions in Brussels in November 2019. He gave an overview of the meetings with EU-senior public officers of various directorate-generals, regional organisations and civil society representatives on EU-level that have been organised by EAR-AER for the ERSIAD delegates. He finally came back on an interesting confrontation of ideas during a first workshop in Ankara in December 2019.

The General secretary of KUDAKA, Mr. Osman Demirdöğen insisted that so far 3 million TRY have been spend in 114 projects on improving working conditions of women and introduction of these on the labour market in North-East Anatolia.

The President of Erzincan Binali Yildirim University, Mr. Akin Levent insisted upon the protection of gender equality at the university.

The Mayor of Erzincan, Mr. Bekir Aksun, welcomed the EAR-AER delegates  from Romania, Albania and Belgium and wished they had the time to visit his beautiful city and its surrounding mountains.

The Governor of the province of Erzincan, Mr. Ali Arslantaş, stated that women are the corner milestone of family as well as society and that society has the obligation to assist them in taking up these duties. The fact that, by setting up businesses, the also contribute financially to the wellbeing of their family and of their community, makes the win the esteem of the entire society. He quoted several examples of women who started businesses in the agricultural sector. In the framework of access to finance, they have been able to collect over 11 million TRY in order to create a fund for microloans, especially destined for women active in the agricultural sector. 250 of them have  been supported by loans with low interest rates, in the framework of the SME-development organisation KOSGEB. He also emphasised on the support that has been given to 10.000 women in terms of training.

EAR-AER Team (Nelu, Silvia-Daniela, Rezarta, Louis, Ionica and Marilena)

Mr. Louis Delcart, board member of EAR-AER and visiting lecturer at Brussels University (V.U.B.) provided with the results of a survey ERSIAD organised for women entrepreneurs in Erzincan (90% of the respondents) and Bayburt (10% of the respondents). The average age of the 48 respondents was between 18 and 45 with half of them less than 35. 12,5% of the respondents already ran a business, whereas 75% of them had the intention of starting up one in the very near future. Striking was their education: 60% of the respondents had an academic degree. The vast majority (80%) of the respondents is convinced that man and women have a different approach when it comes to setting up and managing a business.

Hereby the major conclusions Mr. Delcart has been able to draw from the survey:

  • Although traditionally they select more “feminine” business as characteristic for women entrepreneurship, they are less negative towards construction and agriculture than in Western Europe
  • Gender barriers seem not to be a too big obstacle for Turkish women entrepreneurs. The degree of mobbing and bullying is not higher than in the rest of the world.
  •  The opinion about the way women are treated in the business world is mitigated, but it cannot be said that the majority of the respondents is frustrated.
  • Traditionally when setting up their business they did not go in the first place to the banks but to their relatives. Banks are traditionally unwilling to give support to start-ups.
  •  The Turkish government seems to do quite some efforts in financially helping women start-ups.
  •  Turkish legislation is not considered is an important obstacle and European legislation is considered more as an obstacle to tackle
  • The traditional obstacles the interrogated women indicate are more common obstacles for start-ups as typical women obstacles. They have to be tackled though:
    • Access to finance
    • Skills & experience acquisition
    • Market access & knowledge
    • Bureaucracy
    • The Social impact
  • Proposals for supporting women entrepreneurs that received quite some positive answers are:
    • Professional training sessions
    • Monthly coaching sessions
  • Elements considered as difficult are:
    • Risk assession
    • Management competences
    • Access to finance

Mrs. Marilena Dinu, Romanian Entrepreneur, presented the situation of “Women entrepreneurs in  Romania” testified about her entrepreneurship. She started with general statistic conclusion of entrepreneurship in Romania, stating that most entrepreneurs are men, but also that most entrepreneurs are unmarried, that singles assume better a risk that couples. When it comes to studies 40% of the entrepreneurs are economists and 20% engineers. In Romania most entrepreneurs have already a certain age, as do their enterprises. The majority of the businesses is 30 years old.  In a reaction on the majority of the entrepreneurs being men, Mrs. Dinu responded that the real reason why not more women start their business it is that they look for security, most of them have kids and they need time for them. She strongly encourages all women from any country to start and perform as entrepreneur. They will find satisfaction and they will have time for themselves. Her testimonial of her becoming a business women was sincere and contained most obstacles: the access to finance, the lack of support from the community. She overcame it, and became successful in selling a range of industrial tools. In 2013-2015 she obtained priced for her company on a Romanian level. In 2016 she joined a political party and became politician.           

Mrs. Ionica Oncioiu,  EAR-AER vice-president  presented the various possibilities the EU offered in setting up specialized programs in the matter in its collaboration with Turkey.

Mrs. Yasemin Say , Vice President of Commerce and Industry Chamber Women Entrepreneurs presented the situation of “Women Entrepreneurship in Erzincan

Erzincan is one of the most orderly cities in Turkey. Erzincan is the capital of Erzincan Province in north-eastern Turkey. After suffering from powerful earthquakes (in 1939 which levelled the whole city and most recently in 1992), it has undergone a process of renewal and has become a modern city.The population is approximately 300,000.  One of the most special and unique culinary offer of Erzincan is Erzincan döneri, served with a special Lavash bread and onion and greens salad.  The city is notable for handcrafted copper goods and a special cheese called “tulum peyniri” in Turkish.