Every year, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress gathers together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries.

At the weeklong GEC, delegates make connections, gain insights, learn about new research, and leave ready to renew their programs, policy ideas or firm founder skills. GEC 2018 takes place in Istanbul, Turkey — a thriving startup hub that is both an economic and cultural cornerstone of Europe and Asia.

Endeavor Turkey, one of the co-hosts of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, has an important role of organizing the Congress. They made a great effort to be able to have the Congress in Istanbul.

Endeavor is a global network established in 1997 by Peter Kellner and Linda Rottenberg in central New York, supporting active entrepreneurs who unite founders and business people from diverse cultures and sub-structures for a common goal. The Turkish office was opened at the end of 2006 and so far, 56 startups have emerged from the network. Endeavor offers financial and moral support through a network of mentors, consultants and investors, consisting of local and international opinion leaders to accelerate active entrepreneurs selected for sustainable economic development.

We made an interview with H.Didem Altop, the Founding Managing Director of Endeavor Turkey, and talked about Endeavor Turkey, Global Entrepreneurship Congress, entrepreneurship and more...

First of all, could we recognize to Endeavor?

Endeavor has been operating for 10 years in Turkey. In fact, Endeavor is part of an international entrepreneurial support network. As of today, it operates at 45 locations in 25 countries and all of the developing economies. Our aim is that generalizes and promotes active entrepreneurship. This means is not the start-up phase, but the next step is to support companies that have developed innovative business models, especially in the innovative world. What we do best is to introduce intelligent people to intelligent people, we open the fronts, accelerate fifty percent of our work is done by individual entrepreneurs at the same time while we are working with entrepreneurs, we understand their crisis more detailed. At this time, we are working on improving the ecosystem. It introduces entrepreneurship as a career option and actually exploits entrepreneurial thinking skills.

What are you doing to make Istanbul a global entrepreneurship center?

Turkey's entrepreneurial eco-system has come to a certain point quite rapidly over the last 10 years. We are maybe 5 steps back from Europe but we are 10 steps ahead of the Middle East and Asia. We have an entrepreneurial election process that we regularly have done every year throughout 10 years. We have programs that selected entrepreneurs.

How many entrepreneurs did you support in the process?

We meet about 300 entrepreneurs every year. There are four stages of election process with different stages and programs. After the first meeting, we have at least 6 experts mentor that we call the second round meeting. After that, if they are ready they join the country jury and spend all day with another 6 people in the country jury. Then, we prepare election panel as a candidate for our country so; we determine our candidate from Turkey and we are moving in the international arena.

Does the government have any kind of assistance about entrepreneurs like legal regulation, support plan?

I think, Turkey has a steady and visionary policy of supporting entrepreneurs. We have different programs, strong tax exemptions and promotional programs that are ahead of many countries especially about development and research issues. There are encouraging to promote foreign countries. First, the entrepreneur is paying, then state gives back them. Maybe, this issue can be regulated in a good way.

Endeavor and Turkish Exporters Assembly have partnership. What is the contribution of TİM to you in this process?

We respect each other as our stakeholder. TİM support our mission and we also do the same. There are 39 entrepreneurs actively supported by Endeavor. 60% of them have sales offices in 21 countries and export to 91 countries. This is what TİM also wants to do. We are grateful to TİM doing this kind of things and we hope that they continue to do that.

Do you have projects for potential students in universities?

University students are our future. Global entrepreneurship week that was the worldwide campaign was actually an awareness campaign in November, especially an awareness campaign for university students. It introduces entrepreneurship as a career option and exploits entrepreneurial thinking skills. Our first university studies were with the Global Entrepreneurship Week. We have a program called “Case Campus” past 3 years as Endeavor Turkey. A case-based practical training program was launched and has 325 graduates so far in the sponsorship of Akbank. Formerly, 80% of the students at the university were Faculty of Management. Now, there are also Engineering, Medicine and Design students. We have a practical learning program that we are very proud of it. This program brings together most curious students, most experienced teachers, and the current content.

The Congress is a place where brings together 170 institutions such as Endeavor, TİM. We expect about 3000 thousand participants from 170 countries. There are also sharing platforms on the stage and on parallel-based speech. There will also be social events. There is content on four different platforms. We are excited to see everyone there.