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An International Entrepreneurship Conference was held jointly by Borsa İstanbul and University of California, Berkeley

23 October 2014 - 15:43

As part of its efforts to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem and thereby increase the number of entrepreneurs and angel investors, to expand the ecosystem, and to create employment and innovation, Borsa İstanbul has held an international conference entitled “Building Bridges through Entrepreneurship: Turkey’s Rise as a Startup Nation in Regional and Global Perspectives” jointly with the University of California, Berkeley, in İstanbul. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan also participated in the Conference.

In his speech,
Ali Babacan underlined the importance of entrepreneurship in overcoming the crisis of 2008-2009, and said, “We will attach special importance to entrepreneurship starting from December 1, when we will assume the G 20 Presidency”.

Borsa İstanbul Chairman & CEO Dr. İbrahim M. Turhan
stated that Borsa İstanbul initiated the Private Market with a view to tackling financial difficulties; realizing entrepreneurship, which set its roots firmly in a period of 9 thousand years, and established itself as a chain of values through the guild organization; and to realizing the potential.

Pointing out that they attach special importance to their cooperation with prestigious academic research and training institutions such as University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Turhan added, “I do hope that this conference will become a standing one, and set the basis for strategic partnerships and collaborative work”.

The international conference entitled
“Building Bridges through Entrepreneurship: Turkey’s Rise as a Startup Nation in Regional and Global Perspectives” organized by jointly by Borsa İstanbul and University of California, Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East, with the contributions of the Turkish Airlines and Turkcell, was held at Raffles İstanbul Hotel on Thursday, October 23, 2014.

In his opening speech, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said that entrepreneurship has been one of the most important instruments in overcoming the 2008-2009 crisis. Countries that have succeeded in overcoming the crisis are those that performed well in terms of entrepreneurship, and added, “When we say growth and employment, entrepreneurship is the source of it”.

Mr. Babacan said that the global economy has still not been able to adopt a strong recovery trend, and while USA performs strongly, European and Japan economies are still fragile. Mr. Babacan added that the share of emerging markets in global economies will continue to increase.

Ali Babacan said, “Under these circumstances, Turkey will assume G 20 Presidency on December 1. During our presidency, we will work primarily on small and medium sized companies. Our partners in G 20 agree with us on this. Therefore, I would like to once more emphasize the importance of making entrepreneurship a special agenda item”.

Mr. Babacan emphasized the importance of small and medium sized companies for employment, adding that if growth will be attained through high technology, it will achieved through small and medium sized companies and young entrepreneurs.

Ali Babacan said that entrepreneurship has more widespread and better results in USA compared to Europe, and went on to say, 

“Especially Silicon Valley in California, Berkeley, is characterized by high technology and entrepreneurship. Our government has been attaching special importance to technology since 2002. Both Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister as well as ministers and I have paid visits to the region many times. We have a lot to learn from them about how we can use the potential in Turkey in a fruitful way. This is one of the most important subjects on the agenda. 

Our young and growing population is very keen on this. However,  I should note that, by entrepreneurship, we do not mean small startups only; large companies should be careful about maintaining their entrepreneurial spirit. Large companies that fail to renew themselves and offer new and different services to their customers grow ineffective in a short time. Maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit is very important in that sense”.

Ali Babacan mentioned that they established the angel investor system in Turkey, adding, “We have 254 certified angel investors. When an angel investor partners with an entrepreneur, 100% of the money he invests is deducted from the tax base. The second important subsidy is that, at the time of exit, the return on investment is fully tax-free”.

Ali Babacan also said that they certainly established a mechanism to monitor and control angel investors.

Entrepreneurial Culture in Anatolia 

Borsa İstanbul Chairman & CEO and University of California, Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East Advisor Dr. İbrahim M. Turhan said that one of the most important recent trends in Turkey is acting scrupulously; and among the basic principles, equity and fairness stand out.

Pointing out to the fact that these concepts have an important part in the entrepreneurial culture, Dr. Turhan went on to say,

“As you are aware, at the time that the Ottoman Empire was founded in the 13
th century, there were three basic elements; namely, politicians and soldiers; scientists and practitioners of law; and finally, tradesmen. Şeyh Edebali, father-in-law of Osman Gazi, the founder of the state, was a man of heart, a man of Sufism, and at the same time, the leader of a trade guild. The guild organization was the mortar that brought together trade with heart; rationale with emotion; profitability with ethical values; and manufacturing with fairness, without making any discrimination in terms of religion, language, race or religious sect. This partnership is far beyond one of commerce and profits; represents the law of brotherhood, and is based on fair and equal sharing”.

Dr. Turhan said that it is no coincidence that such a structure was born in the land of Anatolia, where the first exchange of the world was established. “Anatolia”, said Dr. Turhan, “is one of the first settlements of humanity, and the cradle of trade, entrepreneurship, and market, therefore the base of entrepreneurial culture”. 

“We initiated the Private Market”

Dr. Turhan said, “According to the European Commission’s research body Eurobarometer’s survey, the ratio of those who want to start their own business stands at 37% in the EU, compared to 45% in USA, 56% in China, 63% in Brazil, and 82% in Turkey”.

According to another study, Turkey is the leading country in that 59% of the small and medium sized companies expect to employ at least 5 people in the next 5 years, said Dr. Turhan, and went on to say,

“Borsa İstanbul initiated the Private Market with a view to tackling financial difficulties; realizing entrepreneurship, which set its roots firmly in a period of 9 thousand years and established itself as a chain of values through the guild organization; and to realizing the potential. In the Private Market, startups, that is, new enterprises, will directly meet investors and have access to finance. Emerging Companies Market, on the other hand, is an initiative of Borsa İstanbul to financially support new entrepreneurs and small scale companies. Of course, we should note the government’s tremendous support in this respect. I do hope that we will harvest the fruits of these steps and create an environment where the traded companies have access to better financing options and the number of traded companies increase. In this respect, we attach great importance to the cooperation we have with prestigious academic, research and training institutes such as UC Berkeley. I do hope that this conference will become a standing one, and set the basis for strategic partnerships and collaborative work”.

Professor Robert Price, University of California, Berkeley Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, expressed their pleasure for the cooperation with Borsa İstanbul regarding entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa.

Prof. Price said that most universities do not consider making connections between encouraging development and policies, adding, “We created programs at the UC, Berkeley in order to support entrepreneurship. These programs are aimed at creating a culture of innovation in entrepreneurship. This cooperation was structured to bring brand new ideas to the sector, and to create industrial and commercial bonds. Today, every sector needs support for entrepreneurship. We have brand new ideas for that”.

Prof. Dariush Zahedi, Director of the Program on Entrepreneurship and Development at the University of California, Berkeley said that the visionary leadership of Borsa İstanbul Chairman & CEO Dr. İbrahim Turhan has played an important role in the cooperation  between the two institutions.

Prof. Zahedi said that Turkey has achieved significant economic success, reduced poverty by half, and improved her economy, but nevertheless suffers from unemployment, and added, “this is  where entrepreneurship becomes important”.

University of California, Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East

Borsa İstanbul Chairman & CEO Dr. İbrahim M. Turhan is an advisor of the University of California, Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East Program. The Program attempts to answer the question, “How can majority Muslim countries build and sustain open societies, polities, and economies?” by examining the relationship between private enterprise, equitable growth, and democratic development. Through a series of conferences, seminars, and courses, the Program seeks to produce and promote relevant interdisciplinary research. Based on the results of this research, the Program seeks to devise policies to promote the growth and sustenance of democratic institutions and entrepreneurship in Middle Eastern communities and nations, and devise policies for the developed world vis-a-vis such communities and nations. Among the Turkish advisors of University of California, Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East Program are Turkish Presidency Assistant Secretary General İbrahim Kalın and the founding director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies Dr. Gönül Tol.