WEConnect International certified women’s business enterprise Iglo Architects was founded in Istanbul in 2001 by two architects, Zafer Karoglu and Esen Akyar. Despite their limited experience in small architectural practices, within two years the firm already needed to employ more architects and an administrative assistant.
As the company grew, it soon became clear to managing partner Ms. Akyar that she needed to know more about contracts, business law, payrolls, tax calendars, managing cash flow, finding capital, etc.
“It is difficult for an architect to run a company. They don’t teach how to run a company [in architecture studies],” says Ms. Akyar. “An architect literally has no idea about taxes, financial statements, law, HR, PR–basically knows nothing about management unless they have a corporate background where they can learn these things.”
She tried learning everything on her own, but it proved too difficult. After struggling for years, in 2012 she came across 10,000 Women – an entrepreneurship program providing women entrepreneurs around the world with business management education, mentoring and networking, and soon earned a business management certificate.
A year later, through her connections at 10,000 Women, she discovered WEConnect International. Ever since, she attends all of WEConnect International in Turkey’s training events because she believes that participating equips her with better management skills and helps her to understand running a business better.
But for Ms. Akyar, the benefit of the WEConnect International network goes beyond training. In fact, through a network reference in 2014, she became one of the very first women business owners in Turkey to sign a contract with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Better still, the firm continues to provide architectural and design services in the RBS Istanbul head office today. Moreover, Iglo Architects signed another contract to relocate RBS offices in Levent/ISTANBUL and is also expanding to partner with additional global WEConnect International corporate members.
“It is a pleasure and source of pride for me to show my partner (who became also my husband two years after we founded IGLO) the support that comes from women making each other stronger as well as making the men around them stronger,” says Esen. “It’s not a man’s world anymore. Women are working together and getting stronger.”