Entrepreneur's Timesavers: Networking, Mentoring, and Consulting


In 2021, we hosted a session on the power of networking and met Selin Varol, Founder of Kaptan'ın Ceviz Çiftliği in our session. We kept in touch with Selin and she applied to the Women in Business Mentoring Program. This mentoring program is sponsored by the EBRD and managed by us, the TurkishWIN team. This year, we invited Selin to share her experiences and Bilge Sezer Kayaoğlu, Specialist at EBRD, to share the different EBRD programs supporting women entrepreneurs.  Melek Pulatkonak, TurkishWIN’s Founder, was the session host.


EXPO 2022 is organized by UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Yıldız Holding as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator supported by Mary Kay Inc. You can find more information about the Expo here.  Our session took place on Day 2, November 17th. 


This blog post is to recap our conversation and the lessons learned. Let’s get started with our key takeaway: 


Set your goals and be realistic about what you can or cannot do with the limited time you have. If you do not know have the expertise and time, it is consultant time! If the job is yours and you need guidance and motivation, then go find that super mentor. Networking fills all the missing gaps. We have to make time for networking all the time- just as long as we have our goals in our pockets. 



Selin Varol, Founder of Kaptan'ın Ceviz Çiftliği, and her story 


Selin is a Chartered Global Management Accountant certified by CIMA and worked in the finance sector for 13 years before Kaptan'ın Ceviz Çiftliği. 


In her quest to found a business to impact a local community and build a legacy for her daughter, she quit the world of finance and moved back to her hometown, Mugla in Turkey. Now she is the Founder of Kaptan`ın Ceviz Çiftliği, a family-owned, family-run farming business that grows local walnuts and produces gluten-free products.


She works with her family, her mom, and her sister,  to advance urban agriculture by helping women grow their own produce. They encourage women in the local community and help them to realize their own potential and opportunities.


Last year, when Selin attended the expo, she was working on her business plan, learning, and asking questions. After she attended the Power of Networking session by TurkishWIN, she followed the platform waiting for the EBRD Women in Business Mentoring program announcements- which was shared as an upcoming program she can participate in.  She applied to the program and was matched with her mentor, Gaye Göker, for a 6-month journey. Selin reached her mentoring goal and successfully finished the program. 

Selin’s mentoring tips are: 

  •  You get out what you put in.
  • Mentors may recommend that you contact someone, read a book, attend a networking event or change a course of action but they do not make the call for you, buy the book for you, take you to the event or specify the course change. All of it is up to you.
  •  Be upfront. Let your mentor know what your goals are and what you hope to take away from the program.
  • Be an active listener and learner, being open and honest.
  • Make sure you are giving back to your mentor. 
  • Be the driver in the relationship and follow up. 
  • Before presenting your idea anywhere you have to be prepared and precise. Being prepared is the most important thing that you will achieve with the help of a mentor.
  • İt is a long journey when you are an entrepreneur and success comes after a long journey. Make sure you enjoy the learning experience.



How do EBRD programs support women entrepreneurs? 

Bilge Sezer Kayaoğlu, a Specialist at EBRD, gave us a thorough overview of women in business programs. 


EBRD is an International Financial Institution to support sustainable market economies. Financial investment projects are at the center of EBRD’s business activities. At the same time, EBRD provides business advisory services to SMEs in almost 40 economies across three continents, from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean to Eastern Europe to Central Asia.


EBRD recognizes gender equality as an important component of the transition process of the countries and has been running dedicated programs for women-led enterprises in several countries since 2008. These programs are also called Women in Business programs. These programs build on the premise that women-led SMEs need both finance and advice to grow.


In 2014, EBRD Advise for Small Business team launched the Women in Business program in Turkey. We aimed to encourage the participation and integration of women into business with access to advice and finance. From 2014 to 2018, we reached more than 20,000 women entrepreneurs with our advisory, mentoring, networking, training, and business lens tools. EBRD also signed contracts with five Partner Financial Institutions in Turkey to provide access to finance for women entrepreneurs through sub-loans. 


Advice for Small Business Turkey team relaunched the Women in Business Program in Turkey in 2019 with non-financial business development services. EBRD’s non-financial business development services for women-led businesses are


  • Advisory services projects:  These are tailored projects for women-led enterprises in need of targeted advisory services. Advisory service areas can be categorized as strategy, marketing, organization, operations, Information technologies, engineering solutions, quality management, energy efficiency, environmental management, and accounting and financial reporting. These services utilize local consultants and international advisers as required.


  • Entrepreneurial skills development:  Training potential and established women entrepreneurs and training are provided in areas such as sales and marketing, financial management, and the use of information technology. These can be class training and online training. EBRD created an online training platform: www.ebrdknowhowacademy.com.


  • Mentoring:  Mentoring is designed to assist women-led enterprises to build the confidence and capacity to grow their businesses. To implement the program, we match a women business leader who has a specific target in her business with another women business leader who achieved that target, so that they can share knowledge and experience.


  • Business Lens:  is a free, online diagnostics tool. This tool helps women entrepreneurs to identify their needs for finance and know-how in order to establish or develop their businesses. This tool also generates performance reports in seven business management areas. The tool is available at https://ebrdwomeninbusiness.com/


When should we seek a mentor or consultant? What about networking? 


As the first step, set your business or personal goal before seeking a mentor or consultant. The more specific you are, the better your search or match. 


Consultancy is the practice of providing advice and expertise on a specific topic or problem. Here, the contribution of skills, qualifications, and expertise from consultants is expected which the beneficiary does not have internally on project scope in marketing, financial management, operations, etc. The consultancy deliverables and time commitment is scoped in detail for a specific budget. A consultant’s contribution can save you money and time and transfer know-how and skills you do not have. 


Mentoring is an experience sharing between a mentor and a mentee, where the mentor has been in a similar situation with the mentee sharing her experiences. Therefore, mentors can share what course of action they took in a similar situation, what worked, and what didn’t work.  Your mentor will not work with you on your objective. Her time commitment is limited to the mentoring session. Mentoring is one-to-one sharing and is a voluntary and unpaid contribution by the mentor for a specific period of time. 


If you are a mentor, this reading list of 10 books that will make you a better mentor is just for you. This short list of mentoring tips may be helpful in your mentoring journey.  


Set your goals and be realistic about what you can or cannot do with the limited time you have. If you do not know have the expertise and time, it is consultant time! If the job is yours and you need guidance and motivation, then go find that super mentor. Networking fills all the missing gaps. We have to make time for networking all the time- just as long as we have our goals in our pockets. 


Networking Tips 


We have had a blast sharing networking tips. Here are some pointers: 

  • Attend industrial meetings and public events 
  • Connect with your happy customers and ask for referrals 
  • Follow your competitors 
  • Live on LinkedIn for business and on your appropriate social media channel for your end customer 
  • Join women's entrepreneurship networks 
  • Join mentoring programs where you will meet an amazing mentor and fellow mentees 
  • If EBRD is not offering a mentoring program, check out Cherie Blair Foundation’s Women in Business Mentoring Program (in English) 
  • Always always remember to set networking goals to focus your networking search & match

If you cannot wait to find a mentor…


You can join the TurkishWIN Mentoring program by applying to become a member. Our membership application is online at this link. Our dues are annual and you can join us any time based on a 12-month  rolling subscription. You can always read about mentoring tips and programs on the TurkishWIN blog. We love sharing our experiences.   


We cannot wait to meet you shortly or at the Expo next year!

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