Endeavor Entrepreneur Bedriye Hülya was awarded Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the World Economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation. Her company, b-fit, is Turkey’s first national chain of women-only gyms.
The Schwab foundation recognizes and supports 24 social entrepreneurs each year for their innovation and global impact. In receiving this honor, Hülya joins the foundation’s network of 234 social entrepreneurs from 59 countries. She is also invited to attend the 2014 World Economic Forum, where she will meet with political, academic, and business leaders from around the globe.
“Receiving awards like Schwab motivates us in our challenging emerging-market conditions,” said Hülya.
Hülya’s efforts have helped 25,000 women to collectively lose over 15 tons. With over 160,000 gym members at 220 gyms around the country, staffed by over 500 female employees, b-fit is a platform for the empowerment of women through exercise and education. Hülya has also enabled hundreds of women to own b-fit franchises and thus become entrepreneurs in their own right.
“Although b-fit is sometimes considered discriminative because of its women-only model, we believe that in order to close the huge gender gap in countries like Turkey, where there are neither quotas nor positive discrimination policies for women, we have to provide specific tools focusing on women’s development,” Hülya said.
Since selecting Hülya as an entrepreneur in 2009, Endeavor Turkey has helped her resolve licensing issues, execute a franchise financing strategy, and properly structure financial outsourcing and reporting. B-fit plans to expand throughout the country with the ultimate goal of having one b-fit gym in every Turkish neighborhood.