Özyeğin Rural Development Model engages with all development issues from a basic human rights perspective; from a standpoint that people are entitled to resources for sustainable income, education, and opportunities for social capacity building in order to lead fulfilling lives. This perspective regards development as an integrated and ongoing economic, social, cultural and political process and envisions development as a process of rebuilding and revitalizing lives of poor rural communities.
The Özyeğin Model also rests on the idea that development can be attained through empowerment and providing populations with more options and opportunities. The program places the local communities at the core of its project implementations and listens to their needs, ambitions and dreams, and provides them with the tools to resolve their own problems and achieve their aspirations. The whole design of the projects from the planning and implementation of field activities to the necessary revisions of the project involve the active participation of the local community members and stakeholders.
The Vision of Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation Rural Development Program is to provide a voice for the rural poor while also contributing to the larger, international field of rural development through its approach to rural development as a process of transformation aimed to eliminate social injustice and improve the life standards of rural populations.
Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation Rural Development Approach is based on a model, which is built on a set of primary components that can be adopted to the unique conditions of a given project. This model embraces a holistic approach to rural development and includes different aspects of intervention areas.
Economic Development: The villages where Özyeğin Foundation implements its rural development projects are among the poorest villages in the country. Therefore, it is the priority of the program to strenghten the people economic capacity of the individuals and communities living in these villages. Having a community-based development approach, the Foundation designs and implements its project activities in such a way that benefits the whole target community. The principal method for identifiying and designing income-generating economic activities is to ensure the maximum contribution of the beneficiaries.
Physical Infrastructure: Özyeğin Foundation’s approach to solving the infrastructural problems of the project villages is two-folds. On the one hand, the Foundation uses its own resources to quickly and effectively solve the most urgent infrastructural problems in the villages, while on the other hand, it carries out lobbying activities with the local community to channel public funding to the project villages.
Social Development: Özyeğin Foundation understands that if poverty eradication measures only aim to strengthen the economic capacity of the villages then the gains will not amount to real prosperity and overall wellbeing. The fight against poverty requires an integrated approach to development. Thus, it is crucial to approach social and economic capacity building as two processes that streghten each other. Social capacity development component of the program includes activities designed to incorporate children and youth to the development process.
Women’s Empowerment: Strengthening the economic and social capacity of women is one of the most important goals of the project. With the support of the Mother Child Education Foundation, women in the villages have participated in literacy classes and women’s support trainings. Through various economic activities such as handicrafts production, bee keeping and decorative flower production, the program has enabled hundreds of women not only earn an income but lead these initiatives themselves.
Environment: Environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources as well as the transfer of environmental values to future generations constitute an integral part of the Kavar Project. The project respects the traditions of peasants who have been living ecologically for centuries while also making an effort to prevent those practices that harm the environment.
Partnerships and Collaborations: The multifaceted needs of a complex process such as rural development requires cooperation between many institutions both local and national. Therefore, from the design phase of the projects to the implementation of project activities, Özyeğin Foundation engages in multi-partner collaborations. The partners for these collaborations include first and foremost local beneficiaries themselves in addition to public institutions, civil society organizations and corporate funders.
- Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry
- Ministry of Education
- Ministry of Development
- GAP and ÇATOM
- Fiba Group of Companies (Fiba Factoring, Fiba Retail, Fiba Factoring)
- Development Agencies
- Özyeğin University
- The Marmara Hotels
- Nar Gourmet
- Mother Child Education Foundation
- Marks and Spencer
- GAP and Banana REpublic
- Embassy of Japan
- Young Guru Academy
- Bitlis Education and Promotion Foundation
- Istanbul Technical University
- Technical University of Munich
- Prepare Network
- Development Foundation of Turkey
- Local Governments
Rural Policies: One of the missions of Özyeğin Foundation is to influence rural policy making by developing models, creating discussion and advocacy groups, publishing relevant materials, and participating in international forums on rural development. The Foundation aims to create channels for an ongoing discussion of rural development ideas and practices among civil society organizations, public institutions, and universities, while also trying to attract the attention of the private sector.
One of the strongest aspects of the Rural Development Program is its monitoring and evaluation system which is developed to determine the measurable impact of the field projects. The outcomes of this monitoring system have already proved to be a valuable source for other rural development projects and rural policy makers. Designed by a development economist with a PhD from Oxford University, the monitoring system makes use of the quantitative differences-in-differences methodology to measure the change between the project and control villages over time. The system has a qualitative component which aims to measure more subjective qualitative indicators of change in project villages.
Hosted by the Özyeğin Foundation on 17th of November in Istanbul “New Approaches and Practices in Rural Development Conference” has brought together representatives of the public and private sectors as well as the civil society.
The opening speeches of the Conference were made by the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry M. Mehdi Eker and Hüsnü M. Özyeğin. The minister talked about the problems encountered within the field of agriculture and animal husbandry in general and rural development in particular. He also emphasized the progress that has been made in these areas and thanked the Özyeğin Foundation for its work on rural development. The Chairman of the Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation, Hüsnü Özyeğin expressed the sense of responsibility that the Foundation feels towards the rural populations living in poverty and its commitment to strive to eradicate rural poverty as a civil society institution.