ISTANBUL - The third "Female Entrepreneur of The Year" competition, organized by Garanti Bank, weekly Ekonomist magazine and the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey, or KAGİDER, ended with a ceremony Thursday.
The top award was won by Ebru Çerezci, the founder of Hiref Tasarım, an exporting company, while Şebnem Karasu, the founder of Steamlab Systems, a pasteurizer, won second prize. Aytül Kaya, founder of Demkay, a textile company, was given the third prize, while Berin Yıldız, founder of the private Cappadocia Museum, received the "social entrepreneurship" award.
The award ceremony in Istanbul was also attended by Nimet Çubukçu, the state minister in charge of women and family affairs. Speaking at the gathering, Çubukçu said supporting women entrepreneurs would "change the social status of women, their traditional role models and perspectives of life."
"Women constitute 49 percent of our population, but their representation in the total workforce is only 25 percent," said Ergun Özen, chief executive of Garanti Bank. "This means that they are not receiving their fair share from the wealth pie. To have a voice in the world of today and the future, women entrepreneurs should be active in every area."
Applications for the competition is rising each year, Özen pointed out. "This shows we are on the right path. As Garanti, we will continue to mobilize our means for women entrepreneurs. We believe that women should be stronger in every aspect to strengthen democracy, reach sustainable development and create a healthy society."
Speaking at the ceremony, Rauf Ateş, editor-in-chief of Capital, Ekonomist and Pcnet magazines, said Turkey learned entrepreneurship only in the past two decades. "After 1980, more than 800,000 companies were formed," he said. "Women, in essence, joined the ranks of entrepreneurs and became productive in this period. Thus, we cannot underestimate the 83,000 female entrepreneurs today, out of a total of 1.3 million."
This year, 2,119 female entrepreneurs took part in the competition. The winners were selected on criteria, such as "merging creative and productive ideas with capital," "a strong and sustainable financial structure," and "planning toward foreign markets and preparing growth strategies."
Garanti Bank also announced at the ceremony the launch of a new Web site, www.garantikadingirisimci.com, aimed at guiding entrepreneurial women.