ITU Hosts WeRin Workshop and Pilot Testing Event

Breaking Barriers and Unlocking Horizons: Inclusive Entrepreneurship 101 WeRin Workshop and Insights from Women Entrepreneurs of the Day

In September 2023, Istanbul Technical University (ITU) started the pilot testing stage of the WeRin project in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences Münster, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Münster Technological University, and the University of Zagreb.   

They hosted a workshop, where academic partners collaborated with non-academic partners to unleash the barriers to women’s entrepreneurship. ARI Teknokent and İstanbul Technical University worked together to set up the workshop. The target group of the Breaking Barriers and Unlocking Horizons workshop was Entrepreneurship Educators, Entrepreneurship Program Managers, Female Students, and Women Entrepreneurs.

The focus group discussions with women entrepreneurs in the workshop in Turkey were fascinating, and full of knowledge, discussions, and experience sharing based on topics ranging from setting up the company to reaching the investment as a women entrepreneur.

Elif Ererdi, Gülşah Çakır, and Tuğse Baş were the guest speakers of the day. We talked and discussed the barriers and inclusiveness of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Turkey with Dr. Zeynep Erden Bayazit from ITU.

Elif Ererdi is the co-founder of the company called Cool Car. It is a startup company that develops NFC-focused digital business card technologies. Mrs Elif talked about the journey she went through while she was setting up her business. The most interesting comment she made was about the reaction of her family members. “One entrepreneur is enough in one home.” We realized that in Turkey mostly men are recognized as entrepreneurs among the family members. These discussions made the implicit bias to explicit to us and the participants in the workshop.

Testimonial from Elif Ererdi;  

“Yesterday I was at ITU ARI Teknokent where we were speakers with Gülşah Çakır and Zeynep Erden Bayazit at a special workshop for women entrepreneurs. In the interview, we talked about all the difficulties and ways to overcome on the path of entrepreneurship. We ended our interview by agreeing on the continuity of the organization. Thanks to everyone, especially ITU ARI Teknokent.” 

Gülşah Çakır is the co-founder of the company called X Mind Studio. It is a startup company that gives support, training, and mentorships to business owners, investors, corporations, and acceleration programs within the expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem and has over 17 years of industry experience. She talked about the hardship she went through financially and mentally during her business setup period. The lesson that I have learned is that we need to be determined and decisive in our decisions and not quit the first time we fall off the ground and keep continuing.  Once we do that all the others who are against our decision start to come into an alignment and support us even if we fail in the first instance.

Gülşah Çakır (In the Middle) – Elif Ererdi (On the Right)
Gülşah Çakır (In the Middle) – Elif Ererdi (On the Right)

Testimonial from Gülşah Çakır, 

“I participated as a speaker at the WeRin workshop specifically for women entrepreneurs organized by ITU ARI Teknokent. We reminded each other of our experiences in the adventure of life, our reasons for motivation, and why we are in the positions we are in now.”

Tuğse Baş is the co-founder of the company called Baby Cord. It is a start-up company that turns textile waste into fabric by hand-weaving without using electricity, water, or chemicals, and it produces upcycled quality products suitable for ready-made garments with these fabrics. They also have awareness, mission, and responsibility towards creating a more sustainable future. As a women entrepreneur, she mentioned that she didn’t face the barriers but starting up the business by herself was a bit difficult. While she was working on the product side she found herself a male business partner who worked on the marketing side of it.  Normally production seems like a male-perceived job. In their case it was vice-versa, she was creating the product, and her male partner was dealing with the marketing which was also perceived as a woman’s job. This also revealed the job perceptions towards the gender itself. These discussions made the bias explicit in our subconscious mind and agreed to extend these workshops to wider audiences in order to increase awareness of the ecosystem.

Tuğse Baş (On the Right)
Tuğse Baş (On the Right)

Testimonial from Tuğse Baş; 

“I am so glad that we had a nice conversation in the workshop held at ITU MAGNET, where I was the speaker, in order to inspire future female entrepreneurs and encourage them about sustainability.”

Learn more and download some of the resources developed during the project to support female entrepreneurs here.