Empowering Women’s Entrepreneurship

While globally, female entrepreneurship is rapidly growing; locally, development gaps reveal. As a global fintech leader with local expertise, we use our benefit of seeing the global picture and action on these insights tailored to the local needs.

Change is here, and it is here to stay. Women entrepreneurs represent a rapidly growing division of global entrepreneurship and are finally receiving the attention they deserve. 


The importance of female entrepreneurship has won its robust place on the social agenda. The results vary from academic research to entrepreneurial education and financial support programs and various tools whose objective is to diminish the gender gap once and for all. 


Women entrepreneurs are increasingly being seen as essential promoters of the economic growth of a country (particularly in emerging markets) — nurturing social inclusion and overcoming poverty and discrimination. Nevertheless, the number of women who decide to follow an entrepreneurial path is still significantly lower than their male counterparts. The gap is even more pronounced in countries in different development stages.  (Source: Women Entrepreneurship, Cardella, et al., 2020)

Financial inclusion in emerging markets

At PayU, we are proud of our local heritage — we are born local and operate globally. Strengthening our local expertise is at the core of our business, and caring for our local communities is at the heart of this strength.


A few years back, the PayU family proudly welcomed a new member: iyzico, a digital payment services provider and one of Turkey’s most hotly-tipped fintech start-ups. When joining forces with other fintech players, it is not only the numbers we care about. Up and foremost, we care about the personalities behind the business: their ideas and spirit, their motivation and vision.


In the face of iyzico we have a strong supporter in fulfilling our vision of a world without financial borders where everyone can prosper. Enabling prosperity means enhancing financial inclusion and extending access to finance to everyone. To move the needle on these large-scale changes, our actions are based on profound local knowledge, which we keep enhancing.


Last year, iyzico teamed up with PAL (Policy Analysis Lab) in creating the Digital Financial Inclusion report—a study weighing the economic impact of increasing financial inclusion in Turkey by putting fintech in the spotlight. 


Read on to explore a few of the essential findings and our main action points.


Financial inclusion in Turkey

Increasing financial inclusion in Turkey needs a strong focus on SMEs and households, and particularly the inclusion of women in financial systems:


  •       29% of SMEs in Turkey report access to finance as their biggest challenge. (Source: Digital Financial Inclusion report, p. 4) In comparison: in Europe and Central Asia, only 10% of SMEs report facing this challenge. Turkish SMEs contribute to 73% of the employment in the country while having a share of 28% in commercial loans.


  •       Turkish households face barriers to financial system access. Lending is widely taking place outside of financial systems: 28% in Turkey as compared to 13% OECD countries average (Source: World Bank Global Findex Database, 2017)


  •       Account ownership is one of the most fundamental indicators of financial inclusion. Data shows that in Turkey, lack of account ownership is particularly affecting women. While OECD women’s account ownership average is at 94%, in Turkey, 65% of women lack an account, stating that “someone in the family has an account” as a reason. (Source: World Bank Global Findex Database, 2017).



What can we – as fintech leaders – do to contribute to financial inclusion as well as to GDP growth? The following graph, which was compiled by PAL visualizes the suggested impact of fintech.

Increasing financial inclusion through women’s entrepreneurship and fintech

The impact map clearly shows how harnessing the potential of fintech can contribute to increasing access to financial services. 


Account ownership is just one realm where fintech can play a big role in enhancing women’s involvement in the financial system. A compilation of recent World Bank Global Findex data featured in the Digital Financial Inclusion report further shows a strong correlation between the level of female workforce participation and account ownership in OECD countries. (Source: Digital Financial Inclusion report, p. 15)

Access to funding is the main challenge women entrepreneurs face

Despite all the progress made towards gender equality, it is still common for female-led businesses to be rejected access to funding due to gender and cultural biases—many institutions still tend to prefer funding male-owned businesses. 


Recent findings of the Women in Fintech 2021 FT Partners research, support this overwhelming fact and state that although female-led businesses in the US have doubled in the past 20 years, female entrepreneurs struggle to access funding. The research further notes that “male investors and more likely to invest in male founders.” The crushing result: 72% of female founders report lacking access to funding as the main obstacle to starting a business. (Source: Women in Fintech 2021, FT partners, p. 22)


The entrepreneurial landscape in Turkey bears no surprise: the percentage of women receiving financial support through microcredit programs remains very low. 



Supporting Women Entrepreneurs – iyzico’s Women Entrepreneurship Program

Being an active facilitator of change rather than reacting to a changing environment is a mindset PayU & iyzico have in common. Based on the insights gained through the report and empowered by the potential a fintech leader has in supporting women entrepreneurs, this summer iyzico successfully launched their Women Entrepreneur Program. The explicit goal of the program is to democratize financial services and increase their accessibility.





The “iyzico Women Entrepreneur Support Program” is a joint venture between strong business partners such as Google, Good4Trust, IdeaSoft, Paraşüt, and Mükellef. All companies provide program participants with benefits, including financial and marketing support, training, and special discounts. 

iyzico Women Entrepreneur Support Program Benefits

  • Increasing access to funding: Iyzico provides female entrepreneurs with financial support in the form of zero commission for the first six months. (up to 100,000 TRY transaction volume in single withdrawal payments)


  • Social Media support: Products and offerings of the participating female entrepreneurs will obtain greater social media visibility through social sharing via iyzico owned channels on a weekly basis.


  • Free digital marketing training: Together with Google, access to free training in digital marketing and online sales is granted to participating women entrepreneurs.


  • Meaningful discounts for meaningful change: a promoter of the prosumer economy, Good4Trust supports women entrepreneurs by giving them sale and product uploading rights indefinitely and at no cost for the first six months on its social initiative platform. IdeaSoft provides a discount package for women entrepreneurs who want to start an e-commerce website. These are just two examples of the many discounts and initiatives provided by iyzico partners in support of women’s entrepreneurship.


Believing in a better future with empowered women in all areas, PayU & iyzico will continue to “#StandBytheWomenEntrepreneur” until equality is reached.