Social Research, Advocacy and Human Development

Vural Çakır
INGEV President

At INGEV (Human Development Foundation), we support human development by conducting goal-oriented research and implementation programs as well as advocacy. We aim to properly design implementation projects through social research.

We produce guidance reports on important issues in the pandemic environment through research such as digital governance opportunities in local governments, social media image, social perceptions on gender, pandemic-era needs analyses of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and non-governmental organization image. Access to informational-oriented online chats, which we call “INGEV Chats,” have exceeded 1 million people.

In 2020, we have focused on implementation projects aimed at income sources in particular. We place emphasis on entrepreneurship and employment development. Our efforts have intensified, especially for having asylum seekers achieve sustainable livelihoods.

Being a refugee, being forced to leave one’s homeland, is the hardest “job” in the world. Normal society has individuals whom we define as “disadvantaged,” and we try to support them in particular. We count these as the poverty-stricken, those with disabilities, women in need with no income the elderly, and various ethnic minorities. In addition to all these, being a refugee has exponential difficulties and disadvantages such as building a new life with no income in a country whose language and culture is not known.

Turkey is the world’s most altruistic and philanthropic country in terms of the refugee populations it hosts, but this sacrifice requires addressing a much larger issue than has been mentioned. Although foreign aid and funds have made significant contributions, we know that these are insufficient compared to the size of the economic resources required by this issue. The unemployment and economic troubles in the country also have the potential to create tensions that need to be taken seriously, especially toward Syrians. The best way is to be able to have Syrians present who have sustainable sources of income and who do this in a way that can contribute to Turkey’s economy as much as possible.

INGEV’s practices, especially for encouraging entrepreneurship, aim to provide services that reduce possible social tensions in addition to contributing to the national economy be creating sustainable livelihoods.

The number of initiatives in which we provide support to official establishments has exceeded 400 by the end of 2020. We have provided more than 1,500 consultancy services for legal, financial, and business development purposes. The call support center we established has answered more than 5,000 questions. Through the digital fair we organized in the environment of the pandemic, we have aimed at increasing entrepreneurs’ export potential, especially in Arabic-speaking geographies. With the opening of the Şanlıurfa Business Development Center in December, we have started contributing to the development of business life in Şanlıurfa.

We have provided grant support to SMEs, mostly for women, in order to reduce the negative effects of the pandemic period. We have also mediated grants to 150 SMEs to facilitate their Internet access and use. Our special area of effort is those with disabilities. We have collaborated with 117 people with disabilities to get them jobs.

We have learned many lessons from all these processes. Three of the most important are shared below.

The subject of our first lesson is enhancing fund efficiency. Funds from abroad in particular reach the final beneficiary by passing through many intermediate stages. Foreign donors prefer to fund an organization based on their own countries first, then the same organization opens its own office in Turkey; the process, which then flows in a way that maintains its course using subcontractors, increases administrative expenses. Here is an opportunity for process efficiency.

The topic of our second lesson relates to the goal metrics of support programs and the appropriate management of content quality. Content quality may remain weak while the bureaucratic requirements of fund systems and time constraints focus on goal metrics. The risk exists that activities such as grants, trainings, mentoring, and consultancies are ones that do not actually create the ultimate “beneficiary value” even if they achieve their goals on paper.

Our most important lesson, which indirectly makes the source for these other lessons, is our vital need for strong non-partisan civil society organizations that are able to work with a highly technical professional structure. Turkey has great need for these types of non-governmental organizations that are as reputable regionally and globally as they are within the country’s interior.

We must be able to support them and increase their numbers.

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