Making our world a more livable place is not only a duty of states but also of all of us as citizens and companies. Undoubtedly, it is not possible as an individual or a company for us to develop such an inclusive plan on our own. For this reason, 17 global sustainable development goals (SDGs) have been determined, signed by hundreds of countries under the umbrella of the United Nations, so that our world will have better conditions by 2030. Within the scope of this program, states, NGOs and companies report their work on sustainability in line with these 17 objectives.
With the acceleration of entrepreneurship in recent years, we witness that entrepreneurs create great value in terms of sustainability. Moreover, these startups do not need to be non-profit social enterprises. Well, even if many entrepreneurs venture business for profit, they can still contribute a lot towards the 17 sustainable development goals.
A significant part of these startups is established by women entrepreneurs. As in the world, there are many women entrepreneurs working for sustainable development goals in Turkiye. While creating serious economic values with the technologies and business model innovations they develop, they also make the society and the world more livable.
In this article, I will describe Turkish women entrepreneurs and their startups that contribute to 17 global sustainable development goals (SDGs). Undoubtedly some startups may be related to more than a development goal, but I will categorize them for development goals where they stand out more:
SDG 1: No Poverty: Established by Zeynep Elinc, Varsappoffers a marketplace service where you can safely rent your unused second-hand goods, thus eliminating the need to own resources and ownership, facilitating equal access for everyone.
SDG 2: Zero Hunger: The vision of Guru Healthy Food, the startup of Academician Aslı Zulug, is “Healthy food in the light of science”. The startup, which provides access to safe food, is also the producer of Pacha Chips brand, Turkey’s first natural collagen and protein chips. Kybele’s Garden, Turkey’s first Bioponic Agriculture startup of Aygen Savaş Alkan, also builds carbon negative, sustainable food and vertical farming systems by combining the abundance of Anatolia with the technology of the future.
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being: Biochemist Hulya Dagotturen’s startup, Umayana, produces specially formulated gels and creams that heal cancer patients’ wounds that occur during chemotherapy and for which no solution has been found so far. The startup, which has no competitors on a global scale, has also made patent applications. RS Research, the startup of Rana Sanyal, an academician at Bogazici University, continues its studies with the aim of developing drug candidates that can reduce the negative effects while increasing the effectiveness of chemotherapy. They also proved their success once again with an investment of 12 million dollars they recently received. Nanomed, which is the startup of Emine Sarac, another successful female entrepreneur working for this goal, develops mobile compatible biosensors that can diagnose infections and infectious diseases within minutes. The startup succeeded in developing high-purity antibodies for use in the diagnosis of covid -19 shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.
SDG 4: Quality Education: Diagnosis Time, founded by Kubra Kablan, developed the Medical Case Study Platform to accelerate the professional development of medical students.
SDG 5: Gender Equality: Mina Ilkoz’s startup, UP School, is an educational technology platform established to raise role model women in technology. It provides women with the opportunity to start their careers by providing them with technical knowledge and self-confidence.
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation: Elif Turker reduces the use of disposable plastic bottles by developing new generation water filling units at Step2water. Thus, access to clean drinking water becomes easier and less plastic bottle waste is released into the environment. Hulya Tomak develops smart technologies that prevent water waste at the Blueit.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy: Humeyra Ergin’s startup, Lightway, produces floor covering materials that can charge itself. It reduces electricity consumption by eliminating the electric lighting in many places. Dilek Kazan offers advanced bioprocesses for producers who want to produce biofuels with fermentation processes at BacPolyZyme. Thus, it contributes to reducing the need for fossil fuels in energy.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth: Yasemin Oguz’s startup ,Pusula.ai, uses artificial intelligence technology to ensure production efficiency by using data collected from production lines in vital industries. Optiyol, the startup of academician Tuba Gozbasi, provides fuel and time savings by optimizing routes with artificial intelligence technology in supply chain management.
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: Tea Networks, the startup of Gul Ceylan Tok who has an academic background, is able to manage wifi efficiency and quality by optimizing the user experience in wireless networks thanks to its artificial intelligence-based programs. The venture has succeeded in selling services to many of the world’s leading internet operators. Pınar Oncu’s startup, Atlas Space, has been working on the virtual reality technology required by the Metaverse world, which is very popular these days and is currently developing new services for many companies in the metaverse world.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities: B4AFC, founded by Fatma Akgun, eliminates inequalities in society in terms of the socialization of older people. Thus, it increases the quality of life of older adults by responding to their professional, physical, spiritual and social needs.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities: Lal Polater’s startup, Hergele offers electric scooter services in cities. It contributes to the formation of a sustainable transportation system that does not pollute the environment. Yagmur Gomurlu provides recycling of waste in cities thanks to its startup, Biriktirapp.
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production: Ayse Yılmaz’s startup, Ottan, transforms the waste products of the food and agriculture industry. Soygel, founded by academician entrepreneur Senem Seven, makes it possible to use water resources more efficiently by developing a material that keeps the water used in agricultural production in the soil for a longer time.
SDG 13: Climate Action: Bionova Tech, founded by Ayse Sultan Kurt, focuses on bioethanol production to reduce fossil fuel consumption by recycling industrial food waste. Circula, founded by Turkiye Simge Goorany, designs and produces recyclable furniture with a 3D robot printer. It contributes to reducing environmental pollution by using environmentally friendly biocomposite material, which is a combination of cellulose-based wastes and plastics in its products.
SDG 14: Life Below Water: Huriye Goncuoğlu’s “Female Fishers of Turkiye” startup provides training to many women fishers, contributing to their personal and professional development. Thus, it supports the development of a sustainable fishing ecosystem in Turkiye.
SDG 15: Life on Land: Vaha Smart Garden, founded by Nehir Boyacıoğlu, develops systems and technologies where you can produce your food products without soil with zero-waste.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: Youth Re-autonomy Foundation of Turkey, founded by Guney Hastemoğlu, aims to reintegrate children related to juvenile crime into society by supporting them at all stages of the judicial system.
SDG 17: Partnerships for Goals: Powerful Kindness Platform, founded by Ravzanur Eken, is a social enterprise that produces awareness content, works to strengthen social psychology, and designs good deeds in line with sustainable development goals for a more livable world, with the slogan “Kindness will save the World”
I think you felt a strong sense of hope and admiration while reading all these examples – as I did while writing this article. However, when we turn our heads to today’s realities, we realize that unfortunately, as a country and society, we have not been able to give women the value they deserve, not only in Turkiye but also in many countries around the world. As a society, many problems that cause women’s grievances, such as the right of girls to access education, the prevention of femicide, and gender-based wage inequality, are waiting to be resolved. Women entrepreneurs are working hard to make our world a more livable place. We, as a society, need to show the same devotion and support to women because nothing good happens where there is no woman.