How does Social Trust affect the Covid-19 Response in Turkey?

The Human Development Monitor (IGM) research, carried out in collaboration with the INGEV Center for Social Studies and Istanbul Bilgi University Faculty of Communication, examined the perceptions and attitudes towards common good in Turkey and how it affects the response to Covid-19.

Although compliance with coronavirus measures may seem like an individual choice at first glance, it is actually a socially adaptive behavior that moves in parallel with the behaviors of others. Knowing what priorities and sensitivities others have affects our own behavior. Within the scope of Covid-19 measures, we wear our mask in a way that covers our mouth and nose in closed environments. In doing so, we feel that we are protecting ourselves and others from spread of the virus. Because we are so sensitive to their health and the common good of society, we think that others will be equally sensitive towards our health and thus we feel safe. However, the extent to which this dynamic will play out depends on the level of trust among individuals in the society as well as the similarity of their understanding of what constitutes common good.

Authored by Professor Halil Nalcaoglu (Dean, Istanbul Bilgi University, Faculty of Communication), the white paper based on the Human Development Monitor examines the relationship between trust and understanding of common good in Turkey, and presents an assessment on how these affect the response against Covid-19.

Please click on the link below to view the report…

Two Big Barriers to SME Digitalization: Budget and Information Gaps

The period of physical distancing enforced by the Covid-19 outbreak has led to profound changes in certain aspects of business life, especially with respect to the transition from face-to-face to remote interactions as well as the increased difficulties regarding management of supply chains. Even though digitalization offers solutions to address such issues, various research studies, especially those aimed at SMEs, point out that the impact of the pandemic has varied depending on the circumstances of the company in question: while the pandemic triggered the initialization of digitalization processes in some cases, it sometimes caused the opposite effect, leading to contractions in new investments.

With this study on the private sector, INGEV assessed the digitalization level and needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”) in Turkey. The study aimed to reveal the extent to which companies can access the benefits of digitalization, especially during the ongoing pandemic period. The findings on possible gaps and areas of improvement are discussed in the study report.

While the study showed that tools such as e-mail usage, corporate social media account ownership, and internet banking, which might be called “basic-level” tools, are prevalent among the host community SMEs in general, more advanced elements of digitalization such as automation or virtual assistants, which offered crucial increases in productivity, had a very limited recognition and prevalence.

Furthermore, in companies founded by Syrians, even the use of basic level tools is limited.

The research findings not only examine the underlying causes of these findings, but also offer recommendations on possible action steps. In order to overcome these obstacles, it is recommended that the private sector, sectoral associations, civil society organizations, and public institutions take joint action. You can access the reports on the research findings by clicking on the links below:

Click to For Host Community Enterprises
Click to For Enterprises Established by Syrians in Turkey

Young Entrepreneurs came together at Climate-oriented Start-up Weekend!

Young people from all parts of our country met at the “Young Initiatives Against Climate Crisis and Disasters” Start-up Weekend on September 25-26 to find solutions to the global climate crisis and environmental disasters.

On the first day, young entrepreneurs sought solutions to global problems together with the teams they formed under the guidance of facilitators and mentors.

On the second day, the groups appeared before the jury with their training on presentation techniques. A total of 18 groups, which made 3-minute presentations to the jury, competed to receive the grand prize.

As a result of the jury voting, the ranking was as follows:

1st Place Gel-Götür: with the idea of delivering products with an expiration date approaching, conveying the product to other people’s usage to prevent food waste.

2nd place Scavengers: with the idea of organizing science workshops using working parts of electronic waste.

3rd place “Hurmaco”: with the idea of coffee from date beans.

3rd place TOFI: with the idea of collecting ancestral seeds to support local seed and refugee employment in agriculture.

Start-up weekend was realized together with UNDP Turkey and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, attended by 100 Turkish and Syrian young people from different cities.

 

ActHuman IV’s Focus: “Green Business and Green Economy”

In its 4th year, #ActHuman Social Inclusion Initiative, conducted in cooperation with the Sabancı University Istanbul Policy Center (IPC) to influence decision processes and policies in Turkey, focuses on “From Employment to Production: Integration to Climate Policies” focuses on green business and green economy.

At the workshop held on September 22, answers were sought for three critical questions. Key sectors for a more inclusive climate policy, the skills required for green work, the needs of SMEs and vulnerable groups for better integration.

The final report will be finalized in October and announced to decision makers and the business world.

In the past three years, ActHuman Social Inclusion Initiative has carried out studies on “improving the contribution of refugee entrepreneurship to the Turkish economy and employment”, “digital governance opportunities for local governments,” and “strong cooperatives for social solidarity economy.”

Support for the Restructuring of SMEs: “SME Growth Programme”

SMEs are important actors of the Turkish economy in terms of economic growth, exports, and job creation. One of the fields of activity carried out to improve the capacities of SMEs is restructuring.

Within the scope of the “SME Growth Program” carried out in cooperation with ILO Turkey Office (International Labor Organization), small businesses will be provided with support to contribute to their restructuring processes through business development and financial support.

Program will also aim to increase the use of local and global networks and the digital transformation of selected businesses to maximize productivity, competitiveness, and working conditions.

In the first phase of the SME Growth Program, mentoring service will be provided according to the needs of the enterprises to determine the areas of business development / digital transformation. Thirty mentors will provide 180 hours of mentoring service to 30 businesses in Istanbul. The digital transformation areas to be determined will be financed after the mentoring service.

In the second leg of the program, financial support of up to 30,000 TL will be provided to 8 businesses.

Istanbul Labor Market Research: Changes Caused by the Pandemic

The social, economic and political consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have profoundly altered the society both the macro- and micro-economic levels:

Inequalities have deepened and the economic downturn has been experienced especially harshly by disadvantaged groups who were already economically vulnerable even before the pandemic.

Based on the unexpected and profound economic changes brought on by the pandemic, Save the Children Turkey and INGEV decided to update the 2019 Gender-Sensitive Labor Market Assessment for Istanbul.

Access to the labor market and job opportunities in Istanbul by economically vulnerable youth from among the Syrian and Host communities have been re-examined in light of the changes created by the pandemic. This updated study was conducted from February to April 2021.

Access the report by clicking on the link below:

https://ingev.org/reports/STC_INGEV_lma_Report.pdf

İNGEV-DRC Event Organized to Enhance Business Network Between SMEs İn Şanlıurfa

“Business Networking Event” was organized by INGEV and DRC on August 12 to enhance the business network between SMEs and entrepreneurs, promote the services of local stakeholders, and huddle SME owners and stakeholders together.

In the event, both new entrepreneurs and business owners attended, projects and support packages that entrepreneurs in Sanliurfa can benefit from to start their business and enhance their current businesses were introduced. Participants became aware of the different opportunities in the market by listening to the experience of companies that were established, improved, and continued their services for a long time by benefitting from grant support. Universities’ support mechanism for entrepreneurs to develop university and industry collaboration was shared in the event.

The university provides both field and information support to companies that want to carry out innovative studies in their area was one of the most exciting topics among the participants. The owners of successful enterprises shared their experiences about the collaboration of university, industry, and non-governmental organizations on their innovative works. They explained the curative effect of the know-how and opportunities of the university on their businesses. Entrepreneurs were encouraged to consider alternative cooperation opportunities in consideration of these narratives.

Although different stakeholders develop different business networks in each economic ecosystem, companies are either unaware of these networks or consider these associations only as registration authorities or document-providing institutions, which is a prevalent case in the market.

In this regard, associations and unions stand out as essential stakeholders in promoting the products and services of companies and developing their supplier and customer portfolios. As companies increase their knowledge of the benefits of associations and unions, they have realized that being in connection with the right business networks is essential in reaching their growth targets in fast and secure ways. It was emphasized that the widespread entrepreneurial spirit in different sectors in Sanliurfa and the development of solid cooperation between businesses would significantly contribute to both the new generation entrepreneurs and the capacity of existing companies.

The experiences of successful entrepreneurs in food and textile, their best practices, challenges, and problem-solving strategies were an essential roadmap for the companies participating in the event to find a solution when they encounter similar situations.

Women entrepreneurs explained their gender-based obstacles when they faced establishing their businesses, and they shared their struggle strategies.

The stands opened by 25 companies established with the support of INGEV and DRC working in sectors such as textile, food, wholesale trade, service, and construction to promote their products and services attracted great attention from event participants and stakeholders. Companies had a chance to explain their goods and services in detail to customers, contact representatives of associations and institutions to enhance their business network, and hare their business cards and brochures to potential customers and suppliers.

80 companies from different sectors that want to take part in Sanliurfa’s economic ecosystem were established within the project’s scope, and they participated in the event to develop their business network. In addition, the investment environment in Sanliurfa and university-industry cooperation subjects were evaluated in the event. Participants kept informed about local grants and incentives, the small tricks of developing collaboration between companies, and the company enhancement strategies.

“Business Development Event” organized with the contributions of Harran University, Sanliurfa Chamber of Industry and Trade, Sanliurfa Chamber of Craftsmen and Artisans, KOSGEB, Karacadag Development Agency, SURIAD, the Women Entrepreneurs Supreme Board of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, Cevahir Han Restaurant, Texture and Orkniza companies was held with strong participation of 60 people consisting of stakeholders and SMEs.

In the event, Turkish and Syrian companies that have just started their commercial activities in different sectors, especially in the food, textile, and wholesale trade sectors, in cooperation with INGEV & DRC, came together with business world organizations, sectoral associations, financial support organizations and Sanliurfa SME representatives.

INGEV is creating a digital map of SMEs!

INGEV TAM (Social Research Center) has just launched a study that will regularly measure SMEs’ current digital capacities and their priority needs. The study aims to create a digital map of SMEs by including Syrian businesses and local companies.

“SME Digital Monitor” will measure the current digital capacity of SMEs in a wide range from financial applications used by companies to data storage methods, online marketing applications, to information management systems.

Within the scope of the research, the perspectives of SMEs on the digitalization process, the areas where they most need digitalization, and the supports they want to receive to accelerate their digitalization processes will also be taken into consideration.

The research, which will create a digital map of SMEs, aims to collect data regularly and transfer the results as an index and thus follow the periodic developments and trends in the digital transformation of SMEs of different sizes in Turkey.

For more detailed information on the research: merve.yagmuroglu@ingev.org

“Friend” Project by INGEV Volunteers

Friend project, “Arkadaş” in Turkish, is a social cohesion project that improves the Turkish speaking practice of Syrians who have already stepped into the business world.

Within the project framework, while bringing together those who want to improve their Turkish, we meet in online “language rooms” and talk in Turkish on various topics with volunteers from the host community. We are especially careful in highlighting business topics in our conversations.

Thus, we have the chance to practice Turkish and get to know each other better with weekly online activities, which are entirely voluntary, without a teacher-student relationship.

The project improves the Turkish speaking practice of Syrians on the one hand and enables new friendships.

To become an INGEV volunteer, “To support and benefit from the “Friend” project, all you need to do is to fill out the registration form:

https://forms.gle/wDRmWFUnNHw2azRg8  (Click on the Link)

Fifth Season: Climate Policies of Turkey

“Are we changing?” platform held its first event online on the World Climate day

 

With the joint initiative of Habitat Association, INGEV, and TEPAV, “Are We Changing?”, which creates awareness for individual and institutional change in response to climate change and highlights the steps taken in this field. Platform’s first event, the webinar titled “Fifth Season: Turkey Climate Policies,” was held online on May 15, 2021.

The webinar started with the opening speeches of Habitat Association Chairman Sezai Hazır, İNGEV President Vural Çakır, and TEPAV Director Güven Sak.

In his speech, Mr. Hazır pointed out that humanity’s new order after the Industrial Revolution radically changed the global climate compared to previous periods. He also stated that human-induced crises, especially the climate crisis, are deeply felt.

Hazır: “Climate change concerns not only the creatures in nature but also human beings. The process of temporary and permanent relocation due to environmental changes creates the concept of “Environmental Refugees,” The necessity of displacement of people due to the effects of global climate change creates the concept of “Climate Refugees.”

Vural Çakır, President of İNGEV, started his speech by emphasizing that projects against nature are damaging nature beyond measure and negatively affect low-income people.

Çakır: “We need to live a life in harmony with the environment to prevent this and developed countries are primarily responsible for this climate crisis and that this change should not turn into a mechanism that stops and also contains developing countries. The new growth understanding combined with digitalization can be realized with a compulsory and expensive process, especially for countries and companies trying to adapt to the Green Transformation. First and foremost, adapting SMEs to green transformation should be one of the urgent plans ahead.”

TEPAV Director Güven Sak highlighted that climate change is at the center of the world agenda and that we are now at the stage of doing instead of talking.

Sak: “Recovery after COVID-19 will be accompanied by a non-carbon-based growth and related technological renewal process. Yet it is imperative to ensure fair competition, fair transformation, and a fair transition environment between countries, companies, regions, and individuals. Turkey should ratify the Paris Climate Agreement as soon as possible because the Paris agreement is the constitution of this new world. Based on this agreement, a declaration of intent to reduce carbon emissions based on a new economic program should be formed as soon as possible.”

Following the opening speeches, the event continued with a presentation on “World Climate Agenda and Turkey” by Bengisu Özenç, Director of the Sustainable Economy and Finance Research Association (SEFIA).

Özenç stated that the Paris agreement prioritizes limiting the increase in the average temperature up to 1.5 degrees. Underlining that Turkey does not have a long-term low-carbon strategy, Özenç emphasized that such a strategy should form the basis of the development plan.

Following the presentation, a panel titled “Economic Transformation of Climate Policies in Turkey” was held. TURKONFED Economics Advisor Assoc. Dr. Nazlı Karamollaoğlu, UNDP Turkey Climate Change and Environment Portfolio Manager Nuri Özbağdatlı and European Climate Action Network (CAN – E) Turkey Climate and Energy Policies Coordinator Özlem Katısöz were amongst the panelists.

Nazlı Karamollaoğlu, TURKONFED: “A critical transformation process has been initiated within the scope of the European green consensus. The carbon regulation mechanism will seriously affect economic relations, and that this mechanism can be used as a growth strategy, not an obstacle. The metal industry, cement, and electricity sectors are at the forefront, and that SMEs, who are the suppliers of these companies, will have to change their systems.”

She also stated that the Paris agreement should be followed at the macro level in adaptation to the green economy and that employment policies should be regulated.

Nuri Özbağdatlı, UNDP: “The policy development process regarding climate change should be done towards reducing inequalities. Climate change is an issue of inequality, and that deep poverty has emerged with the climate crisis. SMEs are one of the groups that will be most affected economically, and that an approach should be developed for them.”

Özlem Katısöz, CAN-E: ” All energy policies of Turkey are now coal-centered and that its exit from coal is yet possible. When the necessary data were examined, Turkey could get out of coal within ten years and that new form of employment should be created by transforming this sector. Countries such as Turkey, which lack strategy, should first intend.”

Click on the link to watch the event (Only in Turkish)