Monday, June 20, 2011

Yes She Can! TPF Joins Public-Private Partnership

By Ayca Ariyoruk

Can you imagine, at the age of 17, packing a back-pack for your wedding instead of your math class? That is not too far from reality for hundreds and thousands of girls, who are out of school in Turkey. Despite joining the Group of 20, the exclusive club of most powerful economies, Turkey ranks at 126, out of 134 on gender gap according to the World Economic Forum Report. Turkey is behind Iran (123) and Bangladesh (82). The vast majority of the worst-scoring countries are Muslim.

In order to help change this little-known unfortunate reality, Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF) joined forces with a group of public and private partners that have answered a call from President Obama for a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities. Following President Obama’s call famous Cairo Speech on June of 2009, notable organizations and companies such as Morgan Stanley, Cisco, Exxon Mobile, Intel, The Coca-Cola Company, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Case Foundation and Brown University have volunteered resources of money and talent to spearhead a new initiative properly entitled Partners for a New Beginning. So did TPF.

TPF’ s “Yes She Can!” will work with two local partners, Turkcell, the Turkish telecommunications giant and Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi (Association for the Support of the Contemporary Living), a not-for-profit dedicated to increasing the schooling of girls in Turkey. Together they will launch a mentorship program that will connect Turkish girls between the ages of 12-21 to professional women in the United States. The immediate purpose is to increase college enrollment that will in the long-term result with more women in the workforce, gradually improving gender equality in Turkey. Turkcell and TPF will also fund scholarships.

Yes She Can will engage at least 100 girls in its first year, and increase that number by 10 percent in the each following year, eventually reducing the number of girls not attending primary school down to half million by 2020, and to 300,000 by 2025.

Yes She Can is not the only public and private partnership in Turkey. For instance, Cisco’s SPARK for Women will provide economic opportunities to women In Turkey through information technology education and training. 120 women in six cities will become trainers and will each train additional 20 women, impacting 2,400 women in total. IBM will invest in $1.2 million and send its highest performer business and IT consultants to provide free consulting to local clients in Istanbul, Jakarta and Cairo.

Such public and private ventures are gaining popularity over traditional forms of foreign-aid. Simply increasing aid to the poor can do more harm than good, by creating dependency, feeding corruption and poor governance. The poor do not need charity but sound investments that spur economic growth and opportunities, create jobs and raise standard of living. That’s why the US is increasingly turning towards strategic partnerships with the private and public sector.

If you are one of the many Americans wondering why you should be concerned about the poor elsewhere in face of such economic hardship at home, think about the countless benefits to the increasingly connected global-economy. The women who will benefit from PNB’s education and training programs will in the long run help improve economic standards in Turkey. So by participating, you are not only being a do-gooder, but also making an investment for your own future in some little way.

Share with us your thoughts on public-private partnerships at Would you like to mentor a girl in Turkey? For more information on how you can participate in Yes She Can, contact us at


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hillary’s Smart Power and a "Golden Age for Philanthropy in Turkey"

By Ayca Ariyoruk

Hillary Clinton wants to put diversity into work. That’s why in May, she brought together hundreds of first, second-generation Americans or Americans-to-be at the Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum in Washington DC. If you are, like me, thinking, “We don’t want anything to do with the place we come from. They will never resolve their differences, and it is a waste of our time. We can’t possibly make any contribution,” as Clinton put in her own words, read on because Madame Secretary respectfully disagrees with you. She may convince you otherwise. She convinced me.

Currently, more than 60 million Americans are first or second generation Diasporas in America. America ranks first among countries with the largest number of international migrants, not a surprising fact given almost all Americans have immigrant roots further back. 60 million is a lot of people, makes up a population comparable to that of a mid-size country. A “potential” as Secretary Clinton calls it and a key tool in America’s national strategy of employing smart-power. Harvard Professor Joseph Nye defines smart power as the strategic use and choice of hard power –military, economic means or soft power –culture, values, policies and institutions, for a winning strategy. In other words knowing which power to employ and when.

“Using people-to-people exchange is the core of smart power” Clinton says, the Peace Corps, US Agency for International Development, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the State Department “all rolled into one.”

She is not kidding. $46 billion is the amount of remittances sent by US Diaspora in 2010, according to the State Department, almost twice the $28.7 billion US Official Development Assistant in 2009. The term ‘remittances’ generally refers to transfers in cash or kind from a migrant to household resident, in the country of origin, such as a worker’s remittance.

Yet it is not just about money and how much Diaspora sends back. The hearts and minds engaged for the good of the people in the homeland, also known as the Diaspora Philanthropy, counts more. Let’s not forget, philanthropy is different from charity. Philanthropy refers to seeking out the root causes of problems and solving them. It is transformational giving aimed at bringing about social change and influencing policy. Now-a-days, you can’t win wars only through military means, nor can you build peace-loving democracies with healthy economies solely on foreign aid. That’s where Philantrophy, or smart-charity as I would like to call it, comes in.

For instance, Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF) offers leadership, skills and networks to increase access to education in Turkey and to empower women in exercising economic control over their lives. TPF does that by connecting members of the Turkish-American Diaspora community to innovative causes in Turkey. More than your money (simple in-cash donations are always welcome), TPF needs your ideas and your skills. As the only speaker from the Turkish-American community at Secretary’s Diaspora forum, Ozlenen Eser Kalav, TPF’s president explains TPF’s unique model on giving: “TPF does not approach Diaspora philanthropy as a matter of quantity. We pay special attention to donors’ involvement…”

The Turkish-American community is a predominantly immigrant community. Only 25 percent of the Turkish-Americans living in the United States are US-born. Bonds to Turkey still fresh, we are conscious of our ethnic ties. Most of us came to the US from middle-income families to advance in our educations, not out of desperation. We reached a point where we can think about giving back to larger communities in Turkey, having an impact beyond the small family unit. That’s why since its inception in 2007, TPF was able to grant over $10.4 million to Turkish and US non-profits. Over 1,200 students, women, children and their families have benefited from TPF funded programs.

Turkey’s growing economy makes it a perfect place to invest in new ideas and networks, the bread and butter of philanthropy. The economy is ripe and can produce wealth and nurture entrepreneurship, innovation, paving a path for which Michael Green describes as the “golden age of philanthropy” in Turkey. He has a point. A decade of robust growth placed Turkey among the top 20 economies of the world. Yet, like many other countries, Turkey is unevenly affected by the forces of globalization which is for the most part responsible for this notable growth. While some populations in the society are moving ahead and are placed above the curve, some are falling behind considerably.

If you are now a new convert, like me, who thinks making a difference in Turkey is possible, write to us, about your ideas, your passion, and together we will find ways to be smart about it.

Ayca Ariyoruk joined Turkish Philanthropy Funds as Director of Communications and Outreach in May of 2011. She will be a regular contributor to TPFundBlog bringing you stories on philanthropy and global development.

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