It was the first Gala Dinner of the Entrepreneurship Foundation – “The Giveback Gala” with more than 550 distinguished guests in Istanbul.
You can watch the full video of the event here.
Sir Richard Branson was one of our guests – a big thank you for coming Sir Richard – he came between the Ankara and Istanbul bombings. He was not only supporting the entrepreneurs but also the people in Turkey.
March 16 was also the first time when “Inspired Istanbul” happened. A high level conference on entrepreneurship, organized by Sipahiler Events and the Entrepreneurship Foundation. We had a great line up of speakers – please find here the link to the program.
Sina Afra Keynote Speech at the Gala Dinner March 16, 2016 Istanbul
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome and hoşgeldiniz to Istanbul.
We’ve got some outstanding people here today who I think represent the promise of entrepreneurship not only in Turkey but around the world.
Allow me to make some points on entrepreneurship and why it matters.
All of you embody a spirit that we need to take on some of the biggest challenges that we face in the world — the spirit of entrepreneurship, the idea that there are no limits to the human imagination; that creativity can overcome what is and create what needs to be.
Across Europe and around the world, I hear from people, but especially young people, who are ready to start something of their own — to lift up people’s lives and shape their own destinies. And that’s entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship creates jobs and new businesses, new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing the world — it’s the spark of prosperity. It also helps citizens stand up for their rights,
Entrepreneurship offers a positive alternative to the ideologies of division that can all too often fill the void when young people don’t see a future for themselves.
Entrepreneurship creates opportunities for everybody.
Entrepreneurship means ownership and self-determination, as opposed to simply being dependent on somebody else for your livelihood and your future.
Entrepreneurship brings down barriers between communities and cultures.
Entrepreneurship builds bridges that help us take on common challenges together.
Because one thing that entrepreneurs understand is, is that you don’t have to look a certain way, or be of a certain faith, or have a certain last name in order to have a good project.
The challenge is — as so many of you know — it’s very often hard to take those first steps. The step from zero to one: It’s hard to access capital. It’s hard sometimes to get the training and the skills to run a business as professionally as it needs to be in this competitive world. It’s hard to tap into the networks and mentors that can mean the difference between a venture taking off and one that falls flat. And it’s even harder for women and young people as well as communities that have often been denied access to opportunities. You run into old attitudes that say some people, because of where you come from or what you look like, don’t have what it takes to lead or create a business.
And sometimes it’s sneaky. You go into pitch an idea and maybe the response you get might not be as enthusiastic as if someone else pitched the exact same idea.
Of course, the best answer to that kind of thinking is the example that all of you are setting — your success. And that’s why the Entrepreneurship Foundation is encouraging this spirit of entrepreneurship. Because one of the things that we have come to understand is that in order to create successful entrepreneurs, we need to let people know what entrepreneurship is: an alternative for your career choice. You don’t have to choose it but you should know that you can if you believe in it. In countries like Turkey, many young people do not know that entrepreneurship is an option for their lives.
The Entrepreneurship Foundation was founded two years ago in 2014. The objective of the Foundation is to develop an entrepreneurial culture in Turkey. And creating a culture is not easy and needs time. We are using inspiration and give back as the main tools to create this culture. It will take us maybe 5 years maybe 10 years but our belief in the importance of entrepreneurship is long term, and it is big. It is entrepreneurship which changes countries and societies, like Turkey.
First, we select the most talented young people to join the Foundation. We have a unique selection process and are able to select from 30 thousand applications which we have received in 2015 the right 50 fellows. With our fellows from our first year, the foundation has 80 fellows from 31 universities in Turkey. We believe that young people are the key for creating and changing the entrepreneurial culture in Turkey. Please meet them tonight – they are seated at every table.
Second, we connect the young people with with top entrepreneurs and business leaders. The connection between the young fellows and the top entrepreneurs and business leaders is the key for inspiration. I believe in role models and the power of bringing role models together with young people. Because one of the things every one of these successful entrepreneurs will tell you is that along with incredible successes, they’ve had some failures as well, and they’ve learned from them, but they haven’t given up. This initiates change and creates new entrepreneurs.
Number three, we’re stepping it up to support women entrepreneurs. Women are powerhouse entrepreneurs. The research shows that when women entrepreneurs succeed, they drive economic growth and invest more back into their families and communities. But if half of your team is not playing, you’ve got a problem. And in too many countries, half of the team — our women and girls — are not participating enough in this. Not only in Turkey but also in Europe and in many other countries. This is the reason why one half of our fellows are woman and we are very proud of that.
Four, we are living in times in which I strongly believe entrepreneurs who take from the society also need to giveback to their societies. This is what we call giveback. The best form of giveback is providing jobs – and new jobs come from entrepreneurs. This is how giveback culture and entrepreneurship are connected. And this is the reason why we believe in giving back. Like tonight.
We are truly excited – Entrepreneurship always changed the world and nowadays it is more necessary than ever.
Thank you very much.