Empowering Impact Entrepreneurs for Systems Change
We see the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the universal call for action to all fellow human beings. The SDG Impact Accelerator (SDGia) is a global accelerator built by a multi stakeholder platform focusing on empowering “systems entrepreneurs” and innovators who are providing impact at scale.
It aims to generate market-creating innovations initially for refugee populations and least-developed country (LDC) populations. Market-creating innovations will be executed not by focusing on a particular solution only, but by mobilizing different stakeholders to catalyze systems change.
As the partners of SDGia we are building a unique model for accelerating the discovery and market entry of solutions for the selected big problems related specifically to topics described below. We will do this by finding, mentoring, and funding founders and innovators in an accelerated time frame with the help of global investors mentors and partners.
If you are working on any technology, service or product offering a solution to a BIG problem of Poverty, Water or Sanitation or want to propose an innovative solution to the Sponsored Challenge Topics, we would welcome you to join us this summer in Turkey.
The founders we are looking for are Passionate, Productive and Patient.We are open for application from all international or local teams with a focus on commercializing their inventions and ideas and building sustainable business models.
The call is primarily open for teams, but individuals with a proven track record may be accepted as well. Established companies and their spin offs, startups, research teams, university basedresearch groups and as well as commercial arms of universities are also encouraged to apply. Current NGOs that are willing to dedicate time to test social business models inside their organizations or build outside spin-offs would also be eligible to apply to the pre-accelerator. The applicants having an already existing product and service in preferable challenge areas such as the Digital ID infrastructure for refugees, or a prototype that focuses on providing a non-sewage portable toilet and sanitation solutions, will be evaluated with priority.
The teams will be granted cash upto 14k$ and also in-kind resources at the beginning and end of the pre-accelerator and accelerator programs.
Building a sustainable business requires many functions to operate together. SDGia will be bringing mentors from each expertise area for founders and innovators to allow them to get guidance from
Adapting a product to a specific market requires frequent contact and clear understanding between the solver and the beneficiaries, operators and overseers in the target communities. Therefore, field visits are a critical part of the SDGia. The purpose of these visits is not only to talk to users and main actors in the field and test the solutions but also increase the level of participant teams’ understanding of and empathy with the circumstances of the beneficiaries.
The challenges we are looking solutions for, requires a lot of information and support from all stakeholders and partners. SDGia is built by strong partners and support network looking forward to help the inventors, innovators and startups.
The SDGia, is building an impact fund to be allocated to the accelerator graduates. An investment offer upto 100k$ could be made available to graduates of the startups, with terms and conditions to be discussed at the end of the programs.
SDGia focuses on getting the projects live on the field and get startups and inventors partner with multiple stakeholders to accelerate the solution implementations.
The SDG Impact Accelerator (IA) has been initiated by the Government of Turkey together with the funding of UNDP, Bill & Melinda ...
We’d love to hear from you
If you have an idea and feel that it will contribute to the impact accelerator, contact us.
Mustafa Osman Turan
Co-Chair of the Project Board (MFA)
Mustafa joined the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1992 following his studies in international relations at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. As a career diplomat, he worked in Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Austria, Afghanistan and Belgium. He was Director of the International Media Centre at the G20 Summit in Antalya. Now he serves as Deputy Director General for Multilateral Economic Affairs. He has a Masters degree in European politics from the College of Europe in Bruges.
His passion is to bring creative people together in inspiring places and to host meaningful conversations. InnoMate Entrepreneurship and Innovation Meetup Group, which he initiated in Brussels in 2013, expanded in Luxembourg, Milan and Istanbul. In 2015 he co-founded InnoCampus, a non-profit entrepreneurship training programme. In 2017, he launched TACT Agora, a global platform for co-learning through curated expeditions and experiences. He has now put all his talent and experience into the SDG Impact Accelerator.
Seher Alacacı Arıner
Co-Chair of the Project Board (UNDP CO)
Seher Alacacı Arıner has been serving as Assistant Resident Representative responsible for the UNDP Program in Turkey since July 2017. She has been engaged in UN system since 2005 in different capacities. Throughout her career in UN, she had managed a series of Programmes that respond directly to social and political reforms in line with EC accession requirements. The main focus of her work had addressed targeted interventions to support national human rights mechanisms and transparent, accountable and efficient judicial systems for better access to justice. As a development practitioner, who started her career in working in South East Anatolia development projects, Seher Alacacı Arıner has more than 14 years of experience in development work in a variety of capacities, mainly in management, partnership building, resource mobilization, but also including programme and policy design, project implementation, advocacy and research. She has also strongly engaged with international community representatives and national partners in governments as well as loosely defined networks of non-governmental organizations and human rights advocates. She is also an active contributor of the integrated work of UN on human rights, democratization and SDGs. She was graduated from Bilkent University Department of Political Science and Public Administration and has an MA degree on European Integration, focusing on judicial and political ethics.
Alternate Member of the Project Board (MFA)
Diplomat, Head of Department for Multilateral Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. A team player, instigator, compassionate and visionary, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Business Studies from Trinity College, University of Dublin. She has served in Turkish Embassy’s around the world ( Oslo, Cairo, Dublin and Canberra) also as the Turkish Consul General in Sydney.
Having worked in the NATO and International Political Organisations Departments in the Ministry as well as in the Turkish Permanent Misson to UNESCO, she has extensive experience in multilateral affairs.
UNDP Portfolio Manager
Pelin Rodoplu began her career as a financial analyst and joined the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) after completing her MBA degree in Germany. She has led a wide range of UNDP initiatives on SME development, regional competitiveness, clustering, productivity, innovation, rural development, women’s empowerment, energy efficiency and renewable energy. She also took active role to scale up some of the best practices in Public Private Partnership and inclusive business models. She has a comprehensive collaborative network working with public institutions, NGOs, private sector representatives and academia. Since 2015, she has been managing the UNDP Inclusive and Sustainable Growth Portfolio.
Member of the Project Board (BMGF)
Co-Financing Lead, Middle East Relations, leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation engagement in Turkey. He oversees joint investments, research, and programmatic interventions across Turkey, Qatar, and Pakistan. Previously he worked for Oliver Wyman, a management consultancy, focusing on clients in Europe, Middle East, and Asia. He has worked in projects across financial services and public-sector reform. He has extensive experience working across government ministries in both strategic advisory and transformation roles.
He holds a BSc in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of Warwick.
Duygu Ercan Mörel
Alternate Member of the Project Board (Globesight)
Duygu Ercan Mörel is the Country Representative of Globesight in Turkey, a global development firm working collaboratively with innovative partners to craft solutions to the world’s most pressing social issues.She is part of a team that works to create social impact through strategy and advocacy work based on knowledge development and research.
She worked at the Ministry of Trade (former Ministry of Economy) for almost ten years, before joining Globesight, as a policy officer developing and implementing multi-stakeholder projects to holistically advance structural transformation in Turkey’s industrial production and exports towards a higher value added and more sustainable structure. Lately in her role, she focused on the facilitating role digitalization plays throughout this process and the impact of it on trade, also took part in nation-wide initiatives that formed strategic roadmaps for Turkey’s digital transformation. She worked collaboratively with stakeholders from diverse sectors and backgrounds at the intersection of technology, innovation and economic development.
She holds bachelor’s degree in economics from Bilkent University and master’s degree in international business and finance from Stockholm School of Economics. She started her professional career in London as a Capital Markets Analyst at RBC Capital Markets in 2007 and worked as a Research Associate at TEPAV, the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey before joining the Ministry.
Member of the Project Board (Eczacıbaşı)
Born in 1970, Boğaç Şimşir graduated from Istanbul Technical University as a Mechanical Engineer in 1992 and completed his graduate studies in Economics at University of South Florida in 1994. In 1995, he started his professional career as a Product Development Engineer at GM Delphi. In 1996, he joined Hyundai Motor Company as Assembly Plant Production Supervisor, and in 1998, Ford Motor Company as Body Engineering Supervisor. After five years at Ford, Şimşir joined Arçelik as R&D Specialist, where he remained until 2006, and then he became Founding Partner and Chief Engineer at “maybe design” till 2013. As the co-founder and acting Chief Engineer in his most recent post in “BOxER Design & Strategy”, Boğaç Şimşir currently holds the position of Innovation Director at Eczacıbaşı Building Products Division since February 2014.
Member of the Project Board (LİMAK)
Having earned his BA degree in Social and Political Sciences from Sabancı University, Melih Özsöz obtained his MA in European Studies from Boğaziçi University. He worked at the Economic Development Foundation (İktisadi KalkınmaVakfı – İKV) and its Brussels’ Representation from 2006 to 2016 in various positions. He joined Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Council (Dış Ekonomik İlişkiler Kurulu – DEİK) in February 2016 as Director of Corporate Affairs and Resource Development. From March 2015 to December 2015, Melih also served as the Sherpa at C20 Turkey (Civil Society 20), one of the 6 official engagement groups of Turkish G20. He currently works as Creativity and Innovation Manager at Limak Investments.
Melih has over 10 years of experience in international relations, foreign policy, foreign economic relations, Turkish politics, European Union affairs, and Turkey-EU relations, as well as on issues such as development, social entrepreneurship, and corporate philanthropy. He has worked at national and international levels with public, private, and non-profit sectors. He has broad knowledge of policy in the areas of social policy and employment, free movement of persons, migration, and economic relations.
Apart from his professional life, Melih has been actively involved in civil society. He was one of the 8 founders of Civic Involvement Projects (Toplumsal Duyarlılık Projeleri – CIP) at Sabanci University, an academic program designed to raise awareness on social responsibility and participatory democracy through hands-on involvement with basic social issues and to promote team work and leadership skills. He also did volunteer work for the ARI Movement, one of Turkey’s first platforms to promote participatory democracy and civic engagement among Turkish youth. Melih founded his own social business Çöp(m)adam on August 2008 in Ayvalık, Balıkesir. One of Turkey’s foremost social businesses, Çöp(m)adam was designed to be a different model for development projects – a model that focuses on providing opportunities for women while at the same time trying to promote individual environmental responsibility.
His work as a ‘social entrepreneur’ brought him the opportunity to serve as Member of the Advisory Board at Sabancı Foundation’s Fark Yaratanlar from 2011 to 2013. In 2012 he was granted fellowships to take part in Ashoka International’s Changemakers Program (Germany) and INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship Program (France). On December 2014, Melih spoke at TEDxWomen in Barcelona on women empowerment and leadership, being the only male speaker among a group of 8 inspirational woman entrepreneurs from the Mediterranean region.
On April 2017, Melih was granted with the Marshall Memorial Fellowship by German Marshall Fund’s flagship leadership program, bringing together 75 young leaders on both sides of the Atlantic
Member of the Project Board (WFP)
Nils Grede assumed the position of World Food Programme Representative (WFP) for Turkey in September 2017. Before arriving to Turkey he was the Representative in El Salvador.
During his tenure in Turkey, Mr. Grede managed WFP’s assistance to Turkey in running the world’s largest humanitarian cash transfer programme, the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN). The programme was reaching close to 1.7m refugees in 2019. Major recent changes to the programme included introducing a disability allowance, giving local government social workers more influence over the targeting process and preparing for a graduation strategy for some beneficiaries.
While in El Salvador and building on his experience as Deputy Chief of Nutrition at WFP Headquarters (2009-12), Mr. Grede dedicated a lot of effort towards continuing the progress of reducing chronic undernutrition. El Salvador is the first WFP country to implement an innovative model to distribute specialized food to pregnant and breastfeeding women through a voucher. El Salvador was also the first WFP country office to create a programme to work with vulnerable youth on arts and WFP’s first chef apprenticeship programme.
Prior to joining WFP, he was Director of International Recruitment Marketing at Boston Consulting Group (2008 and 2009) and Principal Director at Boston Consulting Group in Los Angeles, California (2001-2005).
Mr. Grede is a German national and is fluent in eight languages. He is working on improving his Turkish. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern Sciences received from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Grede has also received an MBA from Stanford University.
Independent Member of the Project Board (pro bono)
Başak Saral is responsible for the design and pilot execution of the Systems Lab of SDG Impact Accelerator. Besides, she is a Chief of Party at Building Markets and a Co-founder of DCUBE. Building Markets is an INGO that creates jobs and encourages economic growth in crisis-affected countries by connecting local small businesses to capital and supply chains. DCUBE is an R&D cooperative that facilitates circular economy solutions.
Başak has worked towards sustainable development for the last fifteen years. Her work aimed to empower individuals as well as communities to actively participate in social, economic and political life as change makers. Thus, she has always prioritized capacity development for resilience, as well as sustainability and development.
With this perspective, she has designed, developed, led and monitored project-based partnerships with private sector, government and non-government organizations on sustainable development topics at institutions including Building Markets, Habitat and UNDP. These projects have addressed issues on digitalization and technology innovation; financial inclusion and education; enhancement of entrepreneurship ecosystems; green, inclusive and socially responsible business creation and development; circular economy solutions; livelihoods support for refugees as well as local governance, community empowerment, active citizenship, youth empowerment and gender equality.
Başak is an active member of the TOBB Youth and Women Entrepreneurship Boards of Turkey and the national Network on Checks and Balances. She serves on the board of directors of various companies and social enterprises as a founding partner. Previously, Başak sit at the executive board of the World Academy for Local Democracies of UCLG-MEWA and served as the Vice Chair of the Advisory Board on Youth of Council of Europe.
Başak holds a BA degree from Koç University, and two LLM degrees from Marmara University and Nottingham University. She is also the PFP fellow of the US State Department; she has completed her fellowship at the Global Accelerator MassChallenge in Boston.
Nouf Mohammed Al-Kaabi
Member of the Project Board (QFFD)
Finance and Management information system by degree, development analyst and project manager since 2016 specifically managing projects from a donor perspective in MENA, Europe and America regions, and a member of Climate change working group in Qatar Fund for development. Moreover, a Board member of Intilaq initiative created initially by Qatar.
Alternate Member of the Project Board (QFFD)
Fahad Al-Dehaimi is a researcher and programme manager serving at the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) across the fields of both development and humanitarian aid. His role in the International Organisation Unit calls for frequent engagement in field missions and the development of country strategies across Africa and the Middle East. At the centre of these exercises his passion is direct communication with affected persons, local governments, and NGOs to ensure inclusive and locally-driven collaboration. Fahad currently sits on the QFFD Climate Change Working Group, the Global Financing Facility Investors Group, and the OCHA Donor Support Group.
Sun Gil Kim
Sanitation Consultant (BMGF)
Sun Kim is a Program Officer on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He joined the Foundation in 2014 and supports the Foundation’s effort to provide access to safely managed sanitation to the 4.5 billion people currently without it. As a member of the Transformative Technology Commercialization team, Sun manages philanthropic investments in the area of international standards, reinvented toilet, omni-processor, and omni-ingestor working with a number of universities, non-profit organizations, and companies. He also chairs ISO Project Committee PC 318.
Before joining the Foundation, Sun was an Associate Technical Fellow at Boeing Commercial Airplanes working for 28 years on pressurized doors structures, mechanisms, and systems design, analysis, build, test, and validation. His areas of focus were safety, certification, reliability, functionality, ease of production, reduced weight, reduced costs, and value to the customer. He was also an Authorized Representative of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration interfacing with regulators from the U.S, European Aviation Safety Agency, United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority, Russian, Chinese, and other national aviation authorities.
Prior to Boeing, Sun worked in the oil fields of the Middle East as a geophysical test engineer for Schlumberger Wireline Services.
Sun was born in Seoul, South Korea, lived in Brunei from the age of 6 to 8, and then moved to Washington state with his family. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1984 with a BS in mechanical engineering.
Digital ID Consultant (WFP)
Houman Haddad, CFA, is the Head of Emerging Technologies at the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Houman is the founder of WFP’s “Building Blocks” project, which seeks to harness the power of blockchain to foster interagency collaboration and create efficiencies. Building Blocks is the world’s largest implementation of blockchain technology for humanitarian assistance, currently serving 106,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan. Blockchain technology also has the potential to empower the vulnerable through financial inclusion and digital identities. In 2010, Houman joined WFP as a treasury officer and prior to WFP Houman worked in Canada’s banking sector.
Global Business Strategy Consultant (Pro Bono) | Founding Partner & CEO, Edison International
Cheryl Edison is a global business development strategist and serial entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley with a successful track record of launching companies, products and services into new markets across 47 industries on 5 continents.
Her specialty is new category launches and pivoting business models to grow global sales through integrating innovation into reimagined daily life. To further engage business as integral to sustainable global good, Edison focuses on placemaking for startup ecosystem development by systematically upcycling properties left behind by the 3rd industrial revolution. Her first such endeavor, The Gate 510, gained international recognition in 2013 for SKB property developers, when its launch instantly reached 73 million viewers, expanding the borders of Silicon Valley and introduced what may have been the nation’s first smart-city makerspace —transforming a 24-acre 1940s automobile factory/shopping mall on the brink of foreclosure into the Valley’s largest incubator/accelerator. With 101 boundary-pushing art, technology and maker companies clustered collaboratively around a community-curated and resources-driven central square, The Gate 510 rapidly became a lighthouse for placemaking innovation in cities worldwide.
Born in Ohio, Edison lived on air force bases and Indian reservations until leaving home at 15. She tested in to university before purchasing her first suitcase with backpack straps, and flew to Europe, beginning her professional career in Barcelona helping to launch the now world-famous Llongueras salon brand in 13 countries. Scores of product and service launches later, including the launch of Revlon in Puerto Rico, Edison went on to ventures in California in the early days of the internet, raising funds to build business-to-business web services and engaging 100 modern-day icons to be judges (free of charge) for the then brand-new Webby Awards, including Robin Williams, Stephen Hawkins and Deepak Chopra.
Today, Edison advises Global 500 companies on innovation creation, investors on funding opportunities, and CEOs on business-model pivoting for greater value creation. She gifts one week each month — hosted by embassies around the world — to lecture at universities, provide keynotes at entrepreneurial conferences, advise corporate leaders and work with startups through accelerators, at coworking spaces, and in bootcamps.
Edison has dedicated her life to linking creativity, community and commerce. Her focus is to increase the joy in emerging economies by actively investing each day to leverage all resources to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Systems Lab Consultant (Pro Bono)
Dicle Yurdakul holds a Ph.D. degree in Business Administration and serves as an Assistant Professor of marketing and sustainability since 2015. She completed her Ph.D. in Business Administration at Izmir University of Economics in 2013 and conducted her doctoral research at the University of Texas. She did her post-doctoral studies on experimental research at Koç University between 2013 and 2015. She has published articles in leading international academic journals, including Marketing Theory, European Journal of Marketing and Journal of Macromarketing. Her work also has been featured in major business periodicals including Harvard Business Review and Fortune. Her main areas of interest include sustainability, social innovation and impact technologies.
Dicle has more than 10 years of experience in development, social and environmental sustainability, social innovation and entrepreneurship. She has been serving as a consultant and coordinator in projects carried out by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development (IICPSD) since 2014. She designed and led projects on Inclusive Business with UNDP IICPSD and UNDP Country Offices in different countries including Turkey, the Philippines and Brazil.
As well as her focus on development and sustainability, she is also deeply passionate about technology. She conducts research and consults for leading technology developer companies including Microsoft and Google on Tech4Good, Future of Work and democratization of technology. Dicle is the founder and managing partner of WeQ, a social enterprise focusing on research and consultancy for private sector on sustainability and Tech4Good. She is also actively involved in volunteer work with great enthusiasm and works and consults for several NGOs and their projects including Baslangic Noktasi, Turkey’s first platform for democratizing technological skills development, ECA (European Cultural Association) and CSR Turkey.
Systems Lab Consultant (Pro Bono)
Tuba Atabey envisions a just and sustainable world with people living in harmony with one-selves, others and nature. She is a firm believer that every actor has a role and responsibility to play in changing unsustainable practices in our societal structures to reach this vision. She aspires to empower others and connect people and the planet to cultivate this change. She is inspired to explore inter-relationships and diverse perspectives and believes in the power of dialogue and collaboration to foster intentional systemic innovations for a life in line with planetary limits. She is committed to stay open, observant and inquiring.
Tuba is the founder of SUSTAiNOVA Sustainability Consulting where she provides environmental and social sustainability advice to support transformation towards more sustainable business models. She designs and coordinates stakeholder engagement activities, supports development of strategy, outcome monitoring process as well as sustainability reporting. She conducts social impact assessments using theory of change and social return on investment (SROI) methodology. In 2014, SUSTAiNOVA hosted Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Sustainability Guidelines local launch event which enhanced the uptake of corporate sustainability reporting in Turkey. Prior to founding SUSTAiNOVA, she undertook environmental life cycle assessments at Thinkstep. Before that, she was a project engineer at the first biogas plant in Turkey.
Tuba has been selected as a GRI Stakeholder Council member for the period of 2020-2023. She has the certificate as lead environmental auditor for ISO 14001(IQ-IRCA).
She holds a B.S in chemical engineering from Bogazici University and has a master’s degree in sustainability from BTH in Sweden where she studied strategic sustainable development and systems thinking to navigate through complex challenges. Putting her learnings into practice, she designed strategic sustainable plan for a business incubator in Sweden. She completed Sustainable Value Chains Program at the University of Cambridge. She was awarded for the second place in nationwide (Turkey) chess competition among her age category in 1994.
The world is facing one of the largest crisis in history of humanity: More than 70 million people are displaced around the world due to wars, economic inequalities and climate change. This number is expected only to increase in the upcoming years.
Displaced people face a variety of livelihood challenges. These challenges are complex and their solutions are usually beyond the capacity of individual governments, corporations or international organizations.
The SDG Impact Accelerator was started with a belief in the power of entrepreneurs in providing solutions to the livelihood problems of displaced people by catalyzing cooperation between the relevant stakeholders in an action-oriented and solution-focused way.
We aim to accelerate the solutions by startups, spinoffs or research teams by making them to work together with relevant stakeholders in pre-determined systemic challenges. In Summer 2019, we open two challenges, supported by some of the most critical institutions in the respective areas:
Sanitations solutions – supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private donor institution and Eczacibasi Vitra, one of the largest sanitation systems producers globally
Digital ID solutions – supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and World Food Program (WFP)
The SDG Impact Accelerator is initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. More than 4 million displaced people live in Turkey, the country hosting largest number of refugees in the world. Turkey is an excellent place to explore new solutions to the needs of displaced people. The Summer 2019 programs of the SDG Impact Accelerator will support testing new solutions, which in turn would be scalable to other locations.
The program is also supported by Limak Holding, a Turkish conglomerate with investments in energy, health and transport in developing countries. A number of global technology luminaries support the program through the international advisory board.
If you are a startup, spinoff, a social venture or a corporate or research team that wants to be involved in the challenges, you can apply here.
If you are a corporation, philanthropic foundation, international organization or an impact investor that can potentially partner with the SDG Impact Accelerator, you can get in touch with us here.