Women entrepreneurs in need of support following earthquakes in Türkiye: New study


A new study by KAGIDER and UN Women Türkiye indicates the greatest need of women entrepreneurs in the earthquake zone is grants and staff support.

The Women Entrepreneurs Association of Türkiye (KAGIDER, for its acronym in Turkish) and UN Women conducted a rapid assessment after two major earthquakes occurred consecutively on February 06, 2023, in and around Kahramanmaraş in the South of Türkiye. According to the research, the greatest need of women entrepreneurs in the earthquake zone are grants and staff support. The vast majority (88%) reported that their businesses remain interrupted a month after the earthquake, while 70% highlighted the increased burden of care responsibilities for children, elderly and people with disabilities.

Conducted via phone between February 27 and March 8, the survey reached out to 120 women entrepreneurs and managed to get in touch with a total of 73. Some of the women entrepreneurs couldn’t be reached for the survey. Additional rounds of assessments will be conducted in the coming months to understand the evolving needs of women entrepreneurs and to advocate for their full inclusion in the recovery process.

The biggest need is grants

According to the research, the biggest needs of women entrepreneurs in the earthquake zone are listed as follows: grants (25%), staff (18%), equipment (16%), venue support (9%), promotion/market support (9%), management/counselling support (6%) and other financial support (5%). 5% of the participating women entrepreneurs also expressed the need for psychosocial support.

Approximately 88% of the women entrepreneurs who participated in the study have interrupted production or service. More than 50% of those who took a break, state that they could not start new product production or service again after the earthquake. The majority of those who answered "No" to the question "Did you restart production/service after the earthquake?" state that their premises and equipment were heavily damaged.

While 49% of women entrepreneurs engaged in production activities stated that they have stocked products, the majority of stocked products are in the manufacturing, handmade, gift, textile and food sectors. More than 50% of the women interviewed lived in Gaziantep and Hatay provinces before the earthquakes. 22% of the women stated that they had to undertake the family's livelihood alone. While 5% of the women entrepreneur stated that they would not return to the earthquake zone, 6% stated that they haven’t decided on this issue. 19% of the entrepreneurs are planning to move their companies.

In the aftermath of the earthquakes, 70% of women entrepreneurs reported that their care obligations have increased, and these obligations are care for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, respectively. For those entrepreneurs that stated they would move their businesses, the preferred provinces for "temporary accommodation" after the earthquake were Istanbul, Mersin, Ankara, Antalya, Kocaeli, Izmir and Sivas, respectively. The most common sub-sector/product range in the responses was ready-made clothing/children's clothing, handmade and gift products, hygiene and cosmetic products, furniture, wood products, agricultural pesticides, fertilizer and seed production, wholesale, and local food products.

Evaluating the results of the research, KAGIDER’s Chairperson of the Board, Emine Erdem said: "After the earthquake, it is important to identify the needs in order to quickly heal the wounds and revitalize the local economy. Women have important responsibilities in the recovery process. Their potential and dynamism constitute the basic power that will bring the economy back to life. If women's entrepreneurship and employment recover, the economy will also recover. In other words, if women stand up, the economy will also stand up. In this respect, it is of key importance for the success of the process that the state, the business world, non-governmental organizations, and responsible individuals join hands and provide support. The work we have carried out with UN Women clarifies what needs to be done and the road map. KAGIDER will continue to do its part to support women’s entrepreneurship and employment in the region."

Asya Varbanova, UN Women Türkiye Country Director said: "Women’s entrepreneurship is a driver for economic growth and sustainability. Global studies show that women entrepreneurs tend to reinvest up to 90 per cent of their earnings in their families and communities thus linking inclusive economic growth directly to development. It is critical that the recovery process following the earthquakes is based on the needs and priorities of women entrepreneurs. This rapid survey provides valuable information on what women entrepreneurs in the affected region need for the continuity of their businesses. We encourage all public, private, and international partners to fully consider and address these needs in the recovery process. We will continue working together with KAGIDER on future assessments and initiatives to support women entrepreneurs to play the central role they deserve in in building back better. Women's active role and leadership in the post-earthquake process should be one of the cornerstones of recovery."

Read the Women Entrepreneurs in the Earthquake Rapid Needs Assessment here.