Women, who constitute 49.8% of Turkey’s population, represent only 14% of its entrepreneurs. This was the reason for the Turkish Confederation of Tradesmen and Craftsmen (TESK), the main SME organisation in Turkey, and its 24 Unions of Chambers of Craftsmen and Tradesmen (ESOBs) to initiate a project to increase women’s awareness of entrepreneurship and provide training and consulting for starters and established women enterprises. The project gained support from European Union funds. It was carried out in 2008-2009 by Ecorys Research and Consulting and its partners, including DIWA. Within the scope of the project, Women Entrepreneurship Support (WES) Centres were established in eight of the ESOBs. In these WES Centres training and advisory services were given according to DIWA’s Women Entrepreneurship Support Model that had been developed as part of the project.
The project was an overwhelming success, indicating there was a large need for it. The aim was to train 4500 women and provide a further 2500 with consultancy services. Despite the short time period available, over 6300 women attended one or more training modules and 11 000 certificates were awarded at the end of the project. Almost 3000 women received consultancy services. The project was widely covered in the media, providing a significant secondary effect. In addition to giving practical help, it created hope and confidence, as witnessed by many testimonials, some of them very emotional. Perhaps this was the most important result of all.