Statement by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Türkiye on its work with the Limak Foundation

August 18, 2023

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Türkiye is issuing this statement to provide clarity and accuracy in response to questions that have been aired in social media in recent weeks about UNDP’s work with the Limak Foundation, the social investment arm of the Limak Group of Companies. 

Since 2016, UNDP has supported a program called “Engineer Girls of Türkiye,” which aims to increase the participation of women in engineering and other technical occupations that are traditionally the preserve of men. The program originated in a girls’ scholarship program run by the Limak Foundation. Under an agreement with the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Services, UNDP has worked with the Limak Foundation to build the program into an effective tool for women’s economic empowerment. 

Over the past seven years, 860 girls have benefited from the “Engineer Girls of Türkiye” program, receiving scholarships for their studies and a range of other support including internships, mentoring, coaching, networking and job placement. The program includes 39 public universities in 25 provinces, and activities promoting engineering as a career took place in 125 high schools in 40 provinces. 

UNDP has received a total of US$795,060 in funding from the Limak Foundation to cover the costs of the program. Contrary to suggestions on social media, UNDP has never provided any funding to Limak.

UNDP is proud of the results of this joint initiative. It has won many awards as a model for corporate social responsibility and is often cited as a “best practice” in women’s empowerment.  In the wake of the February 2023 earthquakes, the program was quickly adapted to provide an additional 71 engineering scholarships to girls from the disaster-affected region.

UNDP’s partnerships with the private sector are subject to rigorous scrutiny. The organization’s screening procedure is mapped out in the UNDP Policy on Due Diligence and Partnerships with the Private Sector. The due diligence process helps to ensure that UNDP activities conform with core UN commitments to equality, human rights and the principles underpinning the Sustainable Development Goals. 

UNDP updates its due diligence in response to changing circumstances. The concerns voiced by community activists in past months prompted UNDP to repeat its due diligence process for the Limak Group. The findings leave UNDP with no choice but to bring to a conclusion its partnership with the Limak Foundation. The details will be agreed in coming days in UNDP’s discussions with its partners. 

UNDP remains fully committed to the principles of equality and women’s empowerment embodied in “Engineer Girls of Türkiye.” It is actively putting these principles into practice, currently with a focus on expanding the educational opportunities available to young women in the earthquake-affected region.