UNDP invests in women entrepreneurs to spur economic recovery after Türkiye earthquakes

November 8, 2023
A representative from Swedish Embassy telling something to UNDP Türkiye Resident Representative Louisa Vinton while both are sitting on chairs in a conference setup.
Photo: Bora Akbay

Grants enable 257 women-led businesses to reopen or expand in Kahramanmaraş

Kahramanmaraş, 8 November 2023 – 257 women-led small businesses, including restaurants, shops, textile firms and pharmacies, have reopened or expanded in the earthquake-scarred province of Kahramanmaraş after receiving cash grants averaging US$2,000 from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Nine months after devastating earthquakes struck 11 provinces in southern Türkiye, UNDP and the Kahramanmaraş Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KMTSO) came together today to recognize the accomplishments of local women entrepreneurs who have reopened businesses that now offer goods and services vital to restoring economic activity for a community of half a million people.

Funding for the initiative comes from a US$15 million contribution by Sweden to earthquake recovery.

“Beyond providing financial support, this grant program aims to foster a sense of community and solidarity among women entrepreneurs,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton at today’s event, attended by several hundred local business leaders and a delegation from the Swedish Embassy in Ankara. “Supporting women-led small businesses is crucial for the sustainable recovery and economic development of the region, and at UNDP we are dedicated to continuing our support.”

“The resilience and determination demonstrated by women entrepreneurs in Türkiye is commendable,” said Nasrin Pourghazian, Head of Development at the Swedish Embassy. “As a partner in this initiative, Sweden is pleased to see firsthand how women entrepreneurs in the region have not only revitalized their businesses in the wake of the earthquakes but also emerged as powerful symbols of hope and resilience.”

The joint initiative, part of UNDP’s early recovery activities, provided financial support worth a total of US$550,000 to 257 women entrepreneurs in Kahramanmaraş, one of the four provinces hit hardest by the earthquakes. Women-led businesses with up to ten employees were eligible, and grants ranging from TRY35,000 (US$1,300) to TRY200,000 (US$7,400) were awarded early in August. Recipients included small manufacturing companies, shops, restaurants, pharmacies, and beauty salons. Awardees also included dentists, financial services advisors, real estate agents, law offices and service consultants.  

“Today's event is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of women entrepreneurs who have demonstrated remarkable strength and determination in the face of adversity," said KMTSO Vice President Hikmet Gümüşer. “We are proud to witness their success and hope it sparks a wider recovery.”

During a panel discussion, grantees shared how they used the UNDP funding to buy the necessary machinery or raw materials for getting back into business. Esma Alagöz, the owner of a textile company, highlighted how the grant enabled her to invest in new equipment and keep her workforce. Not only has she managed to revive her business; she has expanded since the earthquakes to include export activities.

The Kahramanmaraş grants program for women entrepreneurs is the first phase of a larger US$10 million program covering all 11 earthquake-hit provinces. In total, 22,824 applications have been received, and UNDP expects to award grants to around 4,500 small firms by the middle of November.

For more information:

Esra Özçeşmeci, Communications Associate for UNDP in Türkiye, esra.ozcesmeci@undp.org