Gülendam is a rural woman from Turkey, who combines entrepreneurship, passion and tradition to create a niche and built livelihoods in Eldivan, a Turkish town. Her village is located in central Turkey. Though the country has a growing economy, several women lack opportunities to earn for families.
The woman entrepreneur lives in a country where only 39% of women attend high school or beyond and 30.3% participate in work force. Turkey has a mixture of modern industry and traditional agriculture. As a kid, she dreamed of studying law; however, she couldn't attend high school. Later, she found it difficult to take care of her own family. However, things have changed now. Gülendam now provides for her family as those of others.
“Now it is time to build something for myself,” says the Turkish woman, who has transformed from housewife to entrepreneur.
Inspired by her garden and backyard, Gülendam planted fruits and vegetables after undergoing training sessions held by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Combining passion and business skills, she founded the Eldivan Women’s Cooperative in 2016. The group that has grown from 7 to 50 women members in the first 6 months produces pastas such as the traditional tarhana (a dried soup) and manti (ravioli). The women use their produce to make jams, pickled and canned vegetables and vinegars.
“We make traditional stuff,” says Gülendam, talking about items produced in cooperative’s solar-powered kitchen. “We do noodles, jams – cherry, tomato, which is popular,” she adds.
The cooperative society sells products under their own name trademark Külçe. They have had tremendous success, earning around $7,000 from sales. They now want to open their own outlet.
“We work to train women like Gulendam in how to start, build, and run their businesses, equipping them with tools and knowhow to create sustainable, green energy-friendly livelihoods,” says Hana, Online Community Manager, UNDP.