Women’s cooperatives thrive thanks to digital tools

June 7, 2022

UNDP, Visa and Habitat expand support to 26 Turkish cooperatives

Istanbul, 7 June 2022 – The 14 women’s cooperatives that received support in digitalization during the first year of a joint programme organized by Visa, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Habitat Association achieved remarkable results that were presented yesterday at an event in Istanbul: 86 percent reported increased sales and 93 percent forged new partnerships. Buoyed by this success, the organizers announced the inclusion of another 12 women’s cooperatives for the programme’s second year, bringing the total beneficiaries to 26.   

The Women's Cooperatives Support Programme, launched in early 2021, is the latest iteration of the long-running “I Can Manage My Money” programme funded by Visa and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Habitat youth organization. Launched in 2009 as the first financial literacy initiative in Turkey, the programme has since provided training in the basics of finance and banking to almost 2 million people in seven targeted categories: children, youth, adults, retirees, young entrepreneurs, farmers, blue-collar workers and women's cooperatives.

“At Visa, we believe that economies that are inclusive will uplift everyone everywhere,” said Merve Tezel, Visa Turkey General Manager. “Over the past two years, we have seen how digitalization can mean the difference between survival and failure for businesses. This is why we are focusing on women's cooperatives. The outstanding results from our first year encourage us to continue helping cooperatives to harness the transformative power of digitalization.”

Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme for women’s cooperatives focused on all aspects of e-commerce, including creating a website, accepting digital payments, building brands and visibility, and handling logistics. Each cooperative received a computer and assistance in setting up the infrastructure for e-business. Support was also provided to help cooperatives promote themselves in online marketplaces and communicate on social media.

Every lira invested in the programme yielded a “social return” of double that, according to an analysis conducted by Big Cat Research. Within a year, 76 percent of participating cooperatives were engaged in e-commerce, 71 percent had diversified sales channels and 47 percent were targeting exports. Cooperative members were buoyant, saying: “Our world has changed”; “We achieved in one year what otherwise would have taken three”; and “We prospered.”

“Cooperatives offer an attractive format to address the low participation rates of women in the Turkish economy,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “But often we see cooperatives struggling to find a market for their products. This is why we are so pleased to be able to provide timely support on how to use digital tools to reach a bigger marketplace.”

“Women's employment is vital for sustainable growth and economic development,” said Sezai Hazır, Chairman of the Board of Habitat Association. “Thanks to the training provided by our programme, cooperatives from all over Turkey are enjoying better sales and therefore better incomes. Listening to the stories of the women who are benefitting reinforces our confidence that financial literacy and digital tools are a winning combination ideal for further expansion.”

Note to editors: You can find on open.undp.org, detailed information on the UNDP’s all development projects in some 170 countries and territories worldwide. open.undp.org is a component of UNDP’s implementation of International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) to which UNDP is a signatory. Click for info on: Visa Europe | I Can Manage My Money

For more information: Faik Uyanık, UNDP in Turkey, faik.uyanik@undp.org

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. tr.undp.org.

Visa (NYSE: V) is the world's leading company in the digital payments industry. It enables payment transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government agencies in more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network; to enable individuals, businesses and economies to succeed and grow. We believe that ubiquitous economies are making everyone better everywhere, and we see access as fundamental to the future of the money movement. For more information, you can visit visa.com.tr.

Habitat Association is a non-governmental organization working in the field of sustainable development. Aiming for young people to play an active role in sustainable development, Habitat was founded in 1997 by young people who came together for the Copenhagen Social Development Summit in 1995 and the United Nations Habitat II Summit in 1996. Habitat, whose initial vision was to establish a communication bridge between the youth of the world and the youth of Turkey, has developed many projects and programmes in order to develop the capacities of young people and establish international partnerships in line with this vision. www.habitatdernegi.org.