Micro-net / Business Portal for Micro Entrepreneur Women

Micro-net / Business Portal for Micro Entrepreneur Women

Turkey
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Micro-net Business Portal Project aims to support low-income women in improving their entrepreneurship capacity and economic participation. Within this scope; women with micro scale initiatives/initiative ideas are given free and on-going counseling, information and communication services on the web based Micro-net Business Portal. The Portal can be seen on www.girisimcikadin.com.

About You
Organization:
Foundation for the Support of Women's Work (FSWW)
Visit website
Section 1: About You
First Name

Sengul

Last Name

Akcar

Country

, IST

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

Organization Name

Foundation for the Support of Women's Work (FSWW)

Organization Phone

0090 212 292 26 72-75

Organization Address

Istiklal Cad. Bekar Sok. No: 17 Beyoglu - Istanbul

Organization Country

, IST

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, IST

Innovation
What makes your idea unique?

Micro-net Business Portal is an alternative tool which transforms low-income women’s entrepreneurship capacity and technology skills into sustainable micro-scale businesses. It acts as a social network as well as business support center. On the Micro-net Portal low-income women;
- Consult volunteer experts about their business ideas/problems and benefit from their knowledge and experiences free and one-by-one counseling service,
- Find new ideas and means to improve their initiatives and products,
- Meet with other entrepreneur women to share their experiences and problems,
- Introduce their initiatives and products to the world, through internet.
On the other hand, women are being supported to become active users of the Micro-net Portal. They benefit from the free computer literacy trainings.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

Through the Micro-net Business Portal;
- Women reach free and one-by-one counseling which is given by corporate volunteers from various sectors on their business problems, ideas,
- Women access information on marketing, business trends, financial resources, issues relevant to women’s rights,
- Entrepreneur women communicate to each other through sharing experiences and towards potential future partnerships,
The Micro-net Portal now has;
- 464 micro entrepreneur women members,
- 43 corporate volunteers providing counseling,
- Served the entrepreneur women members app. 3000 times through counseling and informing services,
Besides; app. 350 women has been supported to use the Micro-net Portal actively.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

Women employment has been a priority in Turkey as in the world. While the global economic crisis has been increasing the unemployment rates for last 2 years, women’s already existed disadvantaged position has caused them to be effected from the global crisis more. The main reasons of women unemployment are their low education level, gender discriminative practices, traditional and socially-accepted roles and responsibilities as child care, housework. And this situation force women to work in low-paid, temporary jobs without social insurance or to raise income through alternative ways in informal sector. There are app. 6 million people in informal sector n Turkey and 1/3 of them are women; half of these women are home-based working women. And these micro-scale initiatives are very important tools in struggling with the poverty.
There is increase in programs, projects developed and implemented by various public/non-state organizations to support women employment. However, these efforts seem to be far from creating concrete and permanent solutions. They mostly focus on handcraft skills training which don’t meet the market needs or don’t provide capacity to sustain a business. Therefore; it is needed to create need-oriented and sustainable support mechanisms. At this point, the Micro-net Portal created by FSWW comes up as an important tool where women can access free and one-by-one counseling, information; share experiences and create common solutions, become visible and promote their initiatives/products.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?

The target group mostly consists of women without computer skills. Therefore, the portal was designed with women; the colors, buttons, font of the Portal were decided with entrepreneur women. After the portal was established, representative group of women entrepreneurs tried the web portal.
The success of the project is women’s becoming active users of the Portal and benefit from the services. In order to provide this; following 2 points are considered as essential;
- Supporting women in using the Micro-net Portal;
Encouraging women to use the Portal and providing them access to the computer/internet are very important for the success of the Portal. The first stage is introducing the Portal to the women and explaining them to the positive changes/benefits to occur in their lives/business. The second stage is providing women space and support to learn to use the Portal. Within the framework of the project, in 22 cities women are given basic computer/internet usage trainings and also provided facilities where they can access computer/internet.
- Coordination of the Micro-net Portal;
The Portal is being moderated by FSWW. The counseling service, the memberships are continuously monitored and revised as to the feedback of both the entrepreneur women and counselor users.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

In 2010, it is aimed to serve for at least 1.000 micro-entrepreneur women on the Portal. Women would counsel the experts and communicate with each other.
In 2011, it is aimed that the number of the beneficiaries would increase and the Portal would be a platform where women can form business partnerships with each other or 3rd parties. Besides; by this year the impact of the counseling service would be assesses and the success stories will be shared with the users.
In 2012, “the Portal” and “micro entrepreneur women” will be known together, the Portal would be a reference for micro entrepreneur women where they can solve their problems by counseling to the experts or to other women, communicate with each other and reach new business ideas/trends or news. And the number of the beneficiaries will increase.

How many people will your project serve annually?

1001‐10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

The project proposes a model for all public institutions as well as other organizations implementing programs/projects for women. Different than the most of the women economic empowerment programs, it considers barriers of women (time poverty etc.) and sustainability in terms of the support given.

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?

No

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?

No

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation

This project is being implemented with the support of Sabanci Foundation and in cooperation with various associations and women cooperatives. These partnerships are very important in reaching the target groups, providing them access to the computer and internet facilities.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

The Micro-net Portal is financed under a grant program of Sabanci Foundation. After the project is completed, FSWW will provide financial sustainability of the Portal.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Women employment has been a priority in Turkey as in the world. While the global economic crisis has been increasing the unemployment rates for last 2 years, women’s already existed disadvantaged position has caused them to be effected from the global crisis more. The main reasons of women unemployment are their low education level, gender discriminative practices, traditional and socially-accepted roles and responsibilities as child care, housework. And this situation force women to work in low-paid, temporary jobs without social insurance or to raise income through alternative ways in informal sector. There are app. 6 million people in informal sector n Turkey and 1/3 of them are women; half of these women are home-based working women. And these micro-scale initiatives are very important tools in struggling with the poverty.
There is increase in programs, projects developed and implemented by various public/non-state organizations to support women employment. However, these efforts seem to be far from creating concrete and permanent solutions. They mostly focus on handcraft skills training which don’t meet the market needs or don’t provide capacity to sustain a business. Therefore; it is needed to create need-oriented and sustainable support mechanisms. At this point, the Micro-net Portal created by FSWW comes up as an important tool where women can access free and one-by-one counseling, information; share experiences and create common solutions, become visible and promote their initiatives/products.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

Sengül received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Yildiz Technical University in 1976. After studying English in the UK, she returned to Turkey where she obtained a Master's degree in Public Administration at Bosphorus University in Istanbul and launched her foundation.

In the early 1980's, the feminist movement began to grow rapidly in Turkey. Although Sengül participated in activities of Turkish feminist groups in the early 1980's, she understood that it was necessary to empower the majority of women who were often excluded from elitist feminist circles. She was determined to establish an organization which was outside the scope of the existing women's groups in Turkey. She understood that for people to lead quality lives, those women who had no voice and were living in poverty, needed to gain a platform for active participation in society. She launched her foundation with initial financial support from family members and from the local municipality.

Sengül was one of the first to start an NGO after the 1980 military coup.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Email from Changemakers

If through another source, please provide the information

Sarah Mintz

ICRW
Does your project address any of the following barriers to women’s technology access and use?

Women’s time poverty, Social norms, Economic or institutional constraints, Women’s lack of involvement in the technology development process.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how.

The project is planned by considering the women’s – especially entrepreneur women’s – poverty in time. Therefore it aims to serve women by a web based portal. And this tool is designed by the involvement of the beneficiary women; as a result it becomes user-friendly. And as stated above, the portal addresses the social and economic constraints of women, because the women entrepreneurship is a tool which leads a change first in their house then in thee community life.

Does your project involve women in one or more of the following stages of the technology lifecycle? Identification of the problem the technology will solve:

Technology design, Technology training, Creation and maintenance of market linkages for women's economic outputs, Assessment and evaluation.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

The Micro-net Business Portal involves women in the planning, the beneficiaries are the women and it is being revised as to the feedback of the users. As given in details above, the portal aims to support women’s economic initiatives.

If women are a focus of your project, how did this focus evolve?

The project focused on women from its conception..

Which type of women will your project reach directly?

Rural, Peri-urban, Urban, Low income.

In what ways does your project team/leadership involve women?

It is led by a woman/women from a developing country., The core project team includes women from developing countries..

Has your organization formed any new partnerships in response to this challenge? If so, with what type/s of organization/s?

Non-profit/NGO/community-based organization, For-profit, Women's organization.

Has your project leadership had prior experience with the following?

Working with women, Working with technologies, Working to increase women's economic empowerment through technology, Working on innovation.