Züleyha Özcan with Derin: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora


Züleyha is an engineer who founded an HVAC company in Ankara 14 years ago. She is part of a small percentage of women at the head of engineering companies in Turkey. She had desired to be an engineer since she was a child, but the road that took her to Derin was not an easy one. After graduation she started working in the private sector until she had her first child. “I was the only woman in that environment, which did not make things easy for me. As soon as I had my first child, mobbing began from other colleagues and superiors because they thought I could not possibly combine work and family life. So I decided to quit and establish my own company.”, she says with a proud look in her office in the district of Cancaya in central Ankara. Züleyha created her own company without any financial assistance from the State, and thinks that the scarcity of economic support put in place for especially women entrepreneurs is one of the major difficulties to overcome. “You all too often must create your own business without the relief of forms of public or private support schemes. This is especially true in the case of schemes for maternity.”, she explains.

In her opinion, gender discrimination means today that women have lower opportunities than men, even when they are at the same professional level. She wishes that both maternity and paternity leave could be longer in Turkey, in order to allow women entrepreneurs and their husband to combine work and family life more easily. “We made progress in the last fifty years of course, but women still need to be given more opportunities if we have to reach a state of true equality. Beginning with salaries.”, she says. The efforts she had to make over this past fourteen years though made her proud of what she built on her own: A strong team of both men and women, which she supervises and guides, helping each others and working together towards a common goal.


For more information: http://www.derinmuhendislik.com.tr/[:]

[:en]Yvonne Field with Ubele Initiative: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


The Ubele Initiative (‘The Future’) was established in 2014, as a social enterprise which supports the sustainability of the African Diaspora communities through intergenerational leadership initiatives, community enterprise and the development of community spaces or assets. Ubele’s national research, ‘A Place to Call Home’ 2015, identified the need for a new generation of leaders who help can create sustainable community spaces. As a result, Ubele offers direct support to individuals, as well as groups and organisations to help them develop the next generation of community based leaders, organisational governance and community and social business models. The Founder and Managing Director has over 40 years of experience in working with communities– her original profession in Community Development and Youth Work and she now also teaches this discipline on a part time basis at Goldsmiths, London University. Prior to establishing Ubele, she ran a successful ‘for profit’ business within the social sector. The Ubele team consists of 1 full time member of staff, 12 part time associates and volunteers. The majority of the team are highly skilled and have more than 25 years’ experience in community and youth work, social work, social action and social change business development strategy, communications and evaluation in the not for profit and for-profit sectors. Ubele have a range of projects which operate at local, regional, national and international levels. For example, the national Mali Enterprising Leaders programme supported 6 different Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) led organisations in London and Manchester.

Ubele provided an organisational assessment,tailor made consultancy support, new leadership development opportunities and access to national and international learning and networking opportunities. They also produced the first national toolkit on BME Community Business, which helps organisations explore Governance, their Community Business Model and their Social Impact. .The majority of programmes include international elements which allowed participants to engage in mobilities thereby widening their horizons, increase their social networks and overall understanding of issues and concerns panEurope. Ubele does not experience a conflict between profitability and the vision as it is a business with a social purpose. There is quite a lot of support for this particular growing business sector in the UK. Others should try and access it giving themselves 3-5 years to grow their business as it takes this amount of time, dedication and sheer hard work for business to really take off!


For more information: www.ubele.org[:]

[:en]Yuliana Topazly with OutSpace: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


My OutSpace was established in February 2012, specialising in supporting parents and women into employment and business via training, mentoring, one to one support and introduction to networking opportunities. It also helps companies to support their own employees better via mentoring schemes, peer to peer support networks and well being services. They launched a tool for companies to support their back to work employees: www.buddywith. org.uk It also offers free services to parents and ensures every family has an opportunity to become financially sustainable. Their team works with over 300 families each year and in the last 12 months it has created 127 jobs and helped to set up 48 businesses. Yuliana came from a family business background, and completed a Business Studies degree, and an MSc. She then became an academic lecturing in Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship across several universities in the UK; worked supporting entrepreneurship activities and spin out companies in the universities. However she says ‘….all the time on the journey I knew I wanted to start my own business, which will make a real difference in the society’. Yuliana also says that ‘…it is very rewarding to see families become more financially sustainable and happier. Those we support very often are coming back to support others. There is a great sense of community among parents especially those experiencing similar issues.’ My OutSpace is accredited under the Good Employer Charter, as they are committed to recruiting locally and paying The London Living Wage. They also ensure they employ parents, provide access to those with disabilities and offer flexible working arrangements. Employees can go on to become advisers, facilitators and trainers in the employability and business training and support sectors. Yuliane has experienced many challenges from the time she started the business, from funders not believing in my idea, landlords not granted the leases because they did not want children around, through to building a customer base and securing tenders with local authority.

If she started the business again, she would probably do more research and networking prior to starting a business as well as trying to make quicker decisions and being more specific in her networking. There have not been any real serious challenges but she has set up a social enterprise from scratch – it is not a charity. She suggests that measuring social impact is only possible if you have a sustainable model in place. She says, ‘I did not want to rely on funding and constantly ‘begging’ for money. We managed to secure contracts with universities and local authorities and reinvest money back into social value to develop a large portfolio of free services we can offer’. Her best advice would be to choose your team wisely as it is her greatest resource. She recruits new people via local council recruitment services, social media and recommendations. She likes her employees to show commitment, adaptability and an eagerness to learn, knowledge of the social problem they are trying to resolve, e.g. unemployment among parents with younger children, lack of flexible working opportunities etc. She also suggests the need to do robust research, to plan well, but also to learn to make quick decisions, as if you take too long, someone else will get there before you! She also suggests the need to be aware of your Intellectual Property rights. In order to remain relevant, My OutSpace do a lot of work via social media engagement, PR, speaking opportunities and produce case studies. They are launching 2 new services: – online mentoring platform to manage mentors and mentees and reporting on all activities; – buddywith.org.uk – an online platform to help organisations to support their employees and increase staff retention.


For more information: www.myoutspace.co.uk[:]

[:en]Yeşim Belli with ANGIKAD NGO: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


Yeşim has been the owner of a pharmacy in Ankara since 2009. She is the mother of two children, whom she takes care of in balance with a busy and satisfying working life. After completing a BA in pharmacy she decided to open up her own business because she felt the need to be autonomous in the daily exercise of her job. “I always wanted to be independent. This is why I worked hard to open up my own pharmacy in Ankara. I like the idea of being able to take decisions for myself, and to use my professional knowledge as I think best”, Yeşim tells us in her office on the upper floor of her pharmacy. She looks proud of what she built with her efforts. She describes her career path as a hard-won one, mainly due to the lack of governmental support in Turkey for women entrepreneurs. This affects business women particularly at the initial stage of their economic activity, when start-up resources are fundamental. “There are financial support schemes in place in Turkey for women entrepreneurs like me. However, banks are reluctant to grant loans unless you are able to guarantee some property as a form of insurance, and in this country men are usually the owners of property rather than women. This means that in practice it is very difficult for a woman to get funding”, Yeşim explains. Another barrier she had to overcome as a business owner since the beginning is the fact that women entrepreneurs in Turkey tend to have lower access to social networks within their own business sectors. This is true because the majority of business owners and CEOs are men, with the result that women colleagues tend to be excluded from gatherings and meetings which could be of relevance to their businesses. “Social norms about genders are still very strong in Turkey, with women expected to take care of children and the household and men to bring money home.

As a woman who opened up her own business I had to overcome some of these socio-cultural barriers and challenge pre assumptions about what I could or could not do in terms of my professional life”, she says. Yeşim, however, could count on the continuous support of her family which encouraged her both financially and psychologically. Her efforts and will power helped her pursue her career aspirations despite some initial limitations, to the point that she gradually gained the support of other male entrepreneurs in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, Yeşim is President of an Ankara-based NGO called ANGIKAD, which provides direct support to women entrepreneurs through the creation of a network made by “women for women”. “It is very important to offer the support of such a group to other women, especially those who are just beginning their journey into self-employment. ANGIKAD has helped me, and is still doing so for many others.”, she explains. Maybe leadership qualities perceptions here?


For more information: www.angikad.org.tr/uyeler.aspx# [:]

[:en]Paulette Williams with Leading Routes: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


Working in the higher education system Paulette Williams, was exposed to detrimental effect institutional racism was having on the Black Community. With a drive to do something about this she established Leading Routes in October 2016. She describes Leading Routes as ‘a black led initiative within the education sector, which aims to prepare the next generation of black academics by strengthening the academic pipeline for black students’. It is run by a group of people who have all had various levels of experience in higher education. Leading Routes, holds conferences and programmes for the black community to explore new ways to address the marginalisation of black people in higher education. Paulette lists the main purposes of Leading Routes to be; ‘to support prospective students to make informed decisions and navigate higher education at all stages. To provide a platform that celebrates black students and academics in higher education and a network that encourages progress in higher education. To strengthen, over time, the pipeline into academic careers for black students and are lastly, to inform and influence policies that affect the black student experience at a strategic level’. Leading Routes recognises that most pertinent issue in higher education is institutional racism. To support the black community through this issue, Leading Routes aims to fill in some of the gaps that exist between academia and the black community. Some of these gaps include; Informing the black community about higher education, direct contact with university representatives, dispelling myths about higher education and connecting black colleagues in academia. Leading Routes is very well supported by the community, this is reflected in the high attendance rate of events and the dissemination of information gained at the event via social networks. When asked what could have been done differently from the beginning, Paulette states that she should of ‘brought a team together from the start instead of attempting to everything independently’.

Paulette explains that it is not always easy and that she did experience a conflict of interest between profitability and charity work, which she is now working through by creating a model that allows us to charge for some services and receive funding for others. When asked what advice would you give to those who would like to create a business in the education sector, Paulette says she would tell people to ‘stay up to date with changes in the sector, not to over promise and to find your organization’s strengths and play to them’. Paulette explains that she believes that people are the most important resource for her business. She states that ‘funding is important but we can adjust the cost of an event based on available resources but having the right people is invaluable’. Paulette hopes for the future of Leading Routes is to consolidate their network in academia, to act as consultants to institutions within sector and to offer programs that provide solid opportunities for black students. Leading Routes plans to do their first regional event outside of London, next year.


For more information: http://leadingroutes.org[:]

[:en]Özgül Peker with SOIE Design: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


Özgül is an example of how passion can work as a strong driver in life. After working 15 years in the food industry for a private company, she decided that her love for fashion and design should become her profession. Despite she knew how challenging it would be, she founded her own clothes design company, Soie Design, 2 years ago and has not stopped creating ever since. We were lucky to interview Özgül directly at her boutique in Ankara, where she produces and sells a range of artistically conceived products, from clothes, to furniture and paintings. Recently, she started cooperating with a local painter, turning his works into patterns for her clothes, so that each piece is truly unique. She remembers going through considerable difficulties at the initial stages of her business creation, especially in terms of financial instruments to turn her dreams into reality. “The range of financial schemes available for women in Turkey is limited, and even when they do actually grant economic support, the amount is pretty low. The biggest problem is that State support schemes require some form of warranty as a prerequisite for funding, which means property, and property is mostly in the hands of men in Turkey.”, she explains.

This lack of support relates especially to the period of maternity, during which women entrepreneurs in the private sector are left alone in balancing between family and professional requirements.
Özgül found much more help in her family and husband, who believed in her potential since the beginning, allowing her to develop what is now a renowned fashion boutique in Ankara. “Being an entrepreneur in Turkey is a challenge, as much as becoming one. However, it is extremely rewarding and satisfying when you realize it is possible. Women are natural leaders, and excellent organizers given their experience as mothers. My only wish for the future is that our government can recognize our potential and create more support schemes for women like me.”, she tells us.


For more information: https://soiedesign.com.tr[:]

[:en]Oliwia Misztur, yoga instructor: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


Her business is dedicated to raising body- and self-awareness through the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. She teaches Ashtanga Yoga method and her original method Fly/Flow (air yoga & creative movement) to groups and individuals, she does business yoga for companies and organises workshops and retreats in Poland and abroad. In our fast-moving world, people can easily get detached from themselves. They lose contact with their own bodies and suffer a lot of pain, because of incorrect sitting or moving habits, lack of physical activities and tremendous amounts of stress. They don’t know how to breathe anymore, suffer stiffness of body and mind. Unhealthy habits and mindsets affect every aspect of life – family, relationships, job. Regular yoga practice teaches discipline and consequence and – what’s more important – brings your ego down. While practising, you learn to breathe correctly and make your body strong and flexible. Physical aspect has an impact on our mental state. Yoga helps to release stress and has a very positive effect on the nervous system. Also, as a practitioner and teacher, she builds a strong community of people concerned about the healthy balanced living, sustainable growth and self-development. Apart from regular classes and workshops, she gets involved in many probono activities, teaches yoga for free outdoors and gets involved in charity events. The community of people practising and supporting yoga and healthy lifestyle is growing fast. More and more people are curious and want to learn more. That’s why she tries to organise many open events – like free yoga in the park. It happens very often that someone comes randomly and then stays for good. She is always very open and welcoming for the new joiners. Besides, she organises events and workshops for people with fewer opportunities, facing health conditions, financial situations and other obstacles.

She gets lots of support from students, but also from strangers, who just like the idea. People and companies invite her for events, offer new possibilities of growth and cooperation. She has been active, since early childhood, in physical activities such as dance and performance. She has got a degree for a dance instructor, practised yoga for 12 years and deepened her knowledge during the workshops and classes with well-known masters worldwide. She definitely considers hiring employees in the future – young teachers and people for administration promotion. She can see the future full of opportunities. She will definitely focus more on organising workshops and yoga trips abroad. She expands her business by preparing new website and appropriate visual communication. But the most important thing is a recommendation – people come to the class, like it and they tell others to join. That’s how they built the yoga community. Her advice: “Make sure you have long-term experience in any field you want to teach. You need to truly be there for the people and serve them.”


[:en]Melike Emiroǧlu YIlmer with MIR Izolasyon: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


Melike’s story is one of a kind, certainly an inspiration to all women out there wishing to become entrepreneurs. After a BA in Economics, and 2 years working for an insulation company, her professional ambition brought her to found a MIR Izolasyon, a company specializing in the production and export of insulating materials for industries in Turkey and abroad. She has been the product coordinator at her company for 14 years now, and she keeps thinking big, always looking for ways to increase her business and especially the impact of her daily efforts for the development of her country. She considers herself to be lucky because she could always count on the support of her family, particularly of her husband, co-founder of MIR Isolazyon with her. The presence of her family helped her overcome some important barriers during the initial stages of her entrepreneurial career. “The Turkish traditional system of values does not fully recognize women as subjects of leadership and self-development. Society tries to keep us [women] passive, and to not realize our potential. But if you work hard, there will be no barrier strong enough to prevent you from succeeding.”, she proudly tells us in her office in Ankara. Melike recalls having been especially puzzled by finding a balance between family life and work, as she often had to sacrifice time with her children in order to grow her business. “My job takes 60% of my time away, which means I often had to face the emotional stress of not being always there for my children, and for the rest of my family. Ultimately though I am working for their wellbeing, and to secure a solid future for them. I want them to understand they can be who they want regardless of their gender.”, she explains. Melike and her husband did not receive the State support they hoped, having created their company entirely from their personal efforts. When asked what she would modify of her working environment had she the possibility, she replies that bureaucracy to access financial assistance for women is too slow, and therefore making the process easier and less complex would help a great deal of women achieving their professional aspirations more readily. “I am definitely a lucky person, and I will never cease to thank my husband and family for believing in me. I know I will keep doing my best to develop MIR Izolasyon. It is a symbol of my fight for personal realization.”, she concludes.


For more information: http://www.mirizolasyon.com[:]

[:en]Lola Owolabi and Proud To Be Me: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


Proudtobeme was established on in 2012 as a social enterprise providing invaluable life skills via bespoke and practical classes for teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 18 years. It is a programme that responds to a growing number of distressed and disadvantaged young women that face an uninspiring future, often amidst a turbulent transition to adulthood exacerbated by drug and alcohol abuse issues, peer pressure, bullying and nutrition. Recent research suggests that 1 in 4 girls are clinically depressed before the age of 14 (Guardian 2017). There is a growing number of girls who are unhappy with themselves and feel less positive about life generally. Research has also shown that depression affects nearly 80,000 children and young people in the UK. With the sharp rise of social media, with its positive and negative effects, they aim to prepare these young women to rise against online bullying, and unrealistic media images, and perceptions. Proudtobeme aims to equip the young women with entrepreneurial and social skills with which they need to make the transition into adulthood. It offers positive support and empowering options that motivates the young women to confidently find their place in society, so that they can add value, and be equipped to be positive influencers in society.
After the workshop sessions: Young women report feeling more empowered to use their voices and make positive contributions to their communities Young women have increased health and mental well-being for them to be able to be more confident and a stronger sense of self. Young women have greater confidence/ well-being and self-esteem to achieve both their immediate and longer-term goals. Many of the previous participants go onto achieved much better grades at school; attend university and achieve good class degrees and / or secure employment and are contributing positively to society. The major difference is that the girls are better informed to make positive life choices which will impact them and their immediate community. They are more likely to fulfil their potential and become valued influential members of society. The community supports the social business by donating in kind and through advertising the service. Proudtobeme emphases the ethos of empowering others.

They aim to empower their volunteers, (who are often previous graduates), through coaching and mentoring by the Founder and Director of Proudtobeme. Their in-house training aims to build volunteers’ self-esteem and confidence by empowering them to empower others and through encouraging an atmosphere of ‘paying it forward’. Members of the social business have relevant experience and they also employ interns in: events, management, nutrition and health and fitness. As a not for profit sector business they would have liked more training in fundraising. Their advice to others who would like to create a business in this sector is to make sure that you network well and have accessed available training and have a disposable pot of funds if at all possible. In future, Proudtobeme aims to create a wide range of digital and other course content that will be an invaluable resource to young people, educational establishments and local authorities that wish to run the training courses. Proudtobeme’s future looks very promising as they have partnered with 2 schools who are interested commissioning workshops for their pupils. Their ultimate aim is to influence the UK schools’ curriculum via a programme of ‘wellbeing’ which empowers young women. They also plan to expand internationally, to develop an app and also design and introduce franchising materials.


For more information: https://proudtobeme.org/[:]

[:en]Magdalena Koźmala with Business and prestige: a success story enhanced by the project Pandora[:]


Magdalena Koźmala is the owner of the company named “Inspire Your Life Magdalena Koźmala” which is a website for business women. She is a master & team coach, business trainer, journalist and columnist, public relation & image building expert and Business & Prestige editor-in-chief. For many years she has been helping people to reach their goals. Since 2016 she has been successfully running the website Business & Prestige where business women, who are looking for some professional and lifestyle inspirations, can find interesting articles on different topics such as communication, sales, marketing, negotiations, body language etc. and interviews with top business people. Besides, Magdalena shows women how to “break the glass ceiling” in their careers. She takes part in several important conferences in Poland. Since 2017 Business & Prestige has been organizing an annual charity project called #ProjektPomagam. Every year Magdalena chooses one foundation for which she organizes the huge event and social campaign to raise funds for children in need.
If we think about the community of women in Poland, we can see that the situation at workplaces is developing, but very slowly. By showing many examples of stories and experiences of business women from Poland and from other countries, Magdalena supports those women that want more from their life, those that aspire to be better and better in their jobs, those who want to reach their goals in business and in private life. She teaches through workshops and she uses networking to connect women in order to create a space to work together and share their stories. She believes that she not only runs a successful website which is getting more and more popular but also helps women on many levels.

For instance, Magdalena as a coach writes a series of columns called “Mindcoffee by Koźmala”. She reflects on many questions of the meaning of life and shows by her own life experiences that women should believe in themselves, reach their goals, leave the past behind and be grateful for everything in their life because everything happens for a reason. The team had experience neither in media industry nor in charity. Magdalena and her group learn from each other and learn from other organizations and companies. They have this great opportunity that they can meet, talk and learn from the experts in their fields. As a team, they try to see what talents they have and figure out how to use it in the best way. The most important resources for the company are people – pointed Magdalena. Since the beginning of the year, she has had one word in her head: internationally. To connect and inspire people on the international level. “The most precious for me are: faith and love for what I’m doing, belief in purpose and rightness, passion in action, the uncompromising attitude in organization, ability to find solutions, class and being a person with a big heart and respect for others.”


For more information: www.businessandprestige.pl[:]