Entrepreneurship Beyond Borders (2012)
Armenia and Turkey have had a tumultuous relationship. Disputes over interpretations of their shared history and border have led to tension between the two countries. Furthermore, the Armenian and Turkish communities that reside near each other on the border lack the positive encounters necessary to build more peaceful relations. Crippled economies further exacerbate issues between Turks and Armenians. While unemployment is high in both countries, women have a significantly higher level of unemployment and earn less than men. Turkish and Armenian women own and manage fewer firms than other countries in the region. Furthermore, many registered female-owned businesses are actually run by their male relatives, with the woman having little or no involvement in the enterprise.
In spite of these barriers, women entrepreneurs in Armenia and Turkey strive to become active in their local economies. However, there are obstacles for these ambitious women on both sides of the border. Many women lack the training and knowledge necessary for successful entrepreneurship. Tension between Turks and Armenians limits mobility and business prospects. Surveys in both countries show that women entrepreneurs face additional challenges, primarily related to making business connections and prevailing stereotypes about women. An environment filled with tension, competition, lack of resources, and strong stereotypes makes it difficult for women to fully participate in the labor market.
The success of Turkish and Armenian women as entrepreneurs in their communities is a central aspect of addressing the aforementioned issues. Based on the foundation of HasNa’s unique experiences providing professional training to ethnically diverse groups in both Cyprus and Turkey, this program built upon past successes training five diverse groups of Turkish women in microbusiness. Empowering these women entrepreneurs has given them greater status as individuals in their families and their communities. Furthermore, the cultural exchanges between Armenian and Turkish women has created a personal and professional support network that will serve the additional purpose of breaking down stereotypes.
To foster positive relationships between women entrepreneurs from Armenia and Turkey for the purpose of:
- Creating long-term and sustainable connections between Armenian and Turkish women entrepreneurs.
- Highlighting the advantages of cooperation between Turks and Armenians.
- Equipping Turkish and Armenian women with the professional skills and organizational knowledge necessary to succeed in entrepreneurship.
- Team-building and professional skills training for ten women; five from Armenia and five from Turkey
- Training will take place in Washington, DC to provide a neutral ground for building trust in October 2012.
- Training on communication and negotiation to promote positive personal and professional encounters between Armenians and Turks
- Training on organizational management to equip the women entrepreneurs with the knowledge needed to run a business: strategic planning, leadership skills and human resources, documentation and bookkeeping, budget and transparency, evaluation, and organizational development
- Trainees will develop a support network to fortify the entrepreneur’s business endeavors when they return to Turkey and Armenia
- Follow-up support by HasNa’s partners for the women entrepreneurs in Armenia and Turkey
While in DC, the women participated in activities including:
- Conflict Resolution Training with experts from the Center for Dispute Settlement
- Intensive entrepreneurship Training with six different experts in the DC area
- A site visit to JMA Solutions
- An overview of the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) with experts from the US Trade Preference Program
- Site visit and roundtable discussion with representatives at the US Chamber of Commerce
- Site visit to Return on Investment (ROI), Inc.
- Lunch with Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF)
- Strengthened the ability of Armenian and Turkish women to become successful entrepreneurs in their communities
- Created a cross-border network of women that can share experiences and support each other in common interests across borders
- Established a platform for cross-cultural understanding to reduce stereotypes between Turks and Armenians
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