Founding partner and CEO of BigChefs that collaborates with 14 female local producers within BigChefs Gamze Cizreli has become the architect of a social responsibility project. Setting an intensive road map in the name of female local producers’ gaining their economic and social freedom throughout Turkey, Cizreli has our economy gain female local producers via her ‘From the Women of Land to Tables’ project.
They will reach 50 female producers at the end of the year
The story of 14 entrepreneur women from Manisa, Gaziantep, Ankara, Amasya, Antakya, Kastamonu, Balıkesir, Çanakkale, Bolu, Muğla, Düzce, and İzmir within the ‘From the Women of Land to Tables’ project inspires many. Some of them are cherry pepper producers, and some are peanut and artichoke. There are also green olive, einkorn wheat, and tomato producers among them. Supporting these producers presents another perspective in the name of introducing Turkey’s name and increasing the number of its products with registered geographical indications to the world. There are 10 thousand products with registered geographical indications in the world now. Although there are 2,500 products eligible for registration, only 337 products have been registered until today. The application process for 422 products is complete and waiting for approval. We had an interview with Gamze Cizreli about the ‘From the Women of Land to Tables’ project and the inspiring story of the 14 women entrepreneurs. Planning to increase the number of female producers that they work with to 50 until the end of the year and to provide the half of their supplies from the female local producers in 2021, Cizreli supports the female producers economically and undertakes a social responsibility project that encourages female entrepreneurs throughout Turkey.
Each story is different
Highlighting BigChefs as a brand with a spirit, Gamze Cizreli said, “We have presented our guests the dishes and the warmth of Anatolia by modernizing them with the West from the start. Our principal has always been to serve the freshest and natural products. This approach inspired us to create our new social responsibility project entitled ‘From the Women of Land to Tables.’ We have realized this project to thank the women suppliers for our fresh and natural products that are on our menu and to support the employment and entrepreneurship of women in Turkey. The annual cost of supplies provided by these producers is around 10-12 million TL.” Emphasizing that each woman’s story is different from another, Cizreli continued to her words, “Some of them were bored of the city life, and settled down in the countryside. Some were born in a village and kept producing, feeding, raising, and growing non-stop. Some of us are aware of that it is hard to deal with land. Nature has its own rules. We believe that those women have a way with soil. We traveled around Anatolia to find women who have a feeling for the land, and to listen to their true stories. We have reached to some of these women entrepreneurs through cooperatives. We have searched for the names that were registered with the chamber of commerce and industry. There were other names referred by our suppliers. It was not easy to reach the 14 entrepreneurs that met our standards for hygiene and health.”
Who are these women?
Rabia Yılmaz, one of the 14 women entrepreneurs that BigChefs collaborates with, produces cherry peppers and plants cotton in Saruhanlı, Manisa. Yılmaz, who has been farming since she was 10, is today 68 years old. The peanut farmer who lives in the Ticar Village of Gaziantep Gülter Açıkgöz is 43 years old. Açıkgöz has been taking great care of her peanut trees that grow in 15 years. Nilüfer Kart and İklime Yaşar, among the members of the Anadolu Bacıları Kooperatifi (Cooperative of the Anatolian Women,) have been producing the orange-carrot jam, which is a first in Turkey, in Polatlı, Ankara. Medine Alkoç from the Amesia Arı Kadınlar Cooperative makes delicious pasta in the Yolüstü Village of Amasya. The biggest goal of Medine Alkoç who is 41 is to reduce the unemployment ratio in the region where she lives. Hülya Altınöz becomes to prominence as a green olive producer in Hatay, Antakya. Two significant women entrepreneurs from Daday, Kastamonu are the founders of the İksirli Çiftlik (Farm) İksir Aydın and her daughter Ece Aydın. İksir and Ece Aydın, who had in mind developing Daday when they first started, plant einkorn and employ other local women in their farm and accommodation facility. Eda Çelebi, age 37, growing artichoke in Mustafakemalpaşa, Bursa, targets to grow pumpkin and romaine lettuce as well as cultivated mushrooms.
From asparagus to hazelnut and from tomato to goat cheese
Founders of the Soframda Ne Var brand Gülsüm and Hasibe Akın produces goat cheese in the Ida Mountains, Balıkesir. Ezel Temiz and Ayşe Kocagöz from Bolu’s Karaağaç Village bakes delicious sour breads. The biggest dream of the two is to introduce their farm bread made with a century old sour yeast to the world. The sisters, Suzan Mantar and Sezin Çetin from the Biga Women’s Cooperative and the Appreciation of Women’s Effort Foundation makes tarhana in Biga, Çanakkale. The two that also make desserts and pastries dream of a world where women produce more together. 43-year-old Hatice Havle Alptekin who lives in Fethiye, Muğla is a fresh and dried tomato producer. 45-year-old Aliye Akbulut who lives in Menemen, İzmir grows greens such as arugula, parsley, water crest, and dill. Graduated from ODTÜ’s Department of Business, 38-year-old Aslı Aksoy is the asparagus producer for BigChef. Producing within the Elibelinde Tarım brand, Aksoy targets to see Turkey among the asparagus exporting countries. The last one of the 14 women entrepreneurs is 63-year-old hazelnut producer from Düzce’s Soğuk Su Village Filiz Aynacı. Aynacı’s biggest dream is to have a flower garden.