Özyeğin Foundation Rural Development Programme 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.

Özyeğin Foundation adopted a holistic and integrated approach to rural development with seven fundamental elements such as economic development, social development, infrastructure, women’s empowerment, organization and sustainability, environment and partnership and collaborations. Ultimately, it is aimed to influence rural policies.

Rural Development Final Report

Kavar Basin Rural Development Project

Kavar Project was launched in November 2008 in Tatvan, located in southeastern Bitlis province, which is among the most impoverished areas of Turkey according to socio-economic indicators. The project area includes 6 villages and 5 hamlets. Özyeğin Foundation completed the project with intensive field activities between 2009 and 2015; it continues its support with the consultancy service it provides to the Kavar Cooperative.

Bitlis Kavar Pilot Final Impact Evaluation Report

Ravanda Basin Rural Development Project

In 2012, Özyeğin Foundation started the Ravanda Basin Rural Development Project in the 8 impoverished villages of Kilis Province where 2.200 people lived. Ravanda Basin Rural Development Project, completed in 2019, was shaped as a woman-oriented rural development experience. Özyeğin Foundation continues to provide consultancy services to the Ravandalı Women Association.

Ravanda Basin Impact Evaluation Report

Students from Tokaçli village in Kavar have become “pen pals” with children from the low-income uptown neighborhood of Chicago through a joint project titled “Bridge: Chicago-Kavar Pen Pal Project.” The children exchange letters to form cross-cultural friendships.

The mission of Özyeğin Foundation is to develop models that focus on empowering rural communities in the field, to steer rural development policies and contribute to their formulation and to support this process with academic work and with partnerships.


Özyeğin Foundation believes that sustainability of the project depends on the fact that the beneficiaries have a say in the process of formulation and implementation of project activities. It is this participatory process that ensures the ownership of the project by the local community. The Kavar Agricultural Development Cooperative, which was established in 2011 after extensive community discussions, field trips to see best practices in other regions, and various trainings, is a typical successful example of this participatory approach.

For more information about the Kavar Cooperative please visit: https://www.kavarkooperatifi.org/


For the last two years women from Ravanda villages have been organizing with the constant support and encouragement of Özyeğin Foundation to establish a women’s association. As a first step, the women attended capacity-building sessions on community organizing. Some of the topics included, “the importance of organizing,” “mutual trust and openness,” “participation,” and “success and failure in community organizing.” While the sales of products continue on the association’s own website, it also receives orders through Good4Trust.




  • Aiming to increase capacity building in public, private institutions and NGO’s operating in rural, local and regional development field, the Rural and Local Development Certificate Programme has been organized since 2014.
  • Kavar Basin Project is One of the Best Rural Development Practices in Europe. The European Association for Information on Local Development (AEIDL) selected Kavar Basin Rural Development Project as one of the “25 Most Innovative Local Development Projects” in Europe.
  • The Foundation is a monitoring committee member of IPARD – Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for Rural Development.

With the EFSE fund of Finance in Motion, Germany which is one of the world’s leading impact asset managers the trainings have been held on the management of an organization, accountancy, good agriculture practices, and new agricultural and marketing techniques in all project villages.


Economic Development

  • 50 % increase in revenue
  • Ensuring specialization in at least one crop in the basin
  • Decrease in seasonal migration for work
  • Increase in the use of new agricultural technology


  • Provision of a sound sewage infrastructure
  • Provision of clean water for all households
  • Improvement of intra-village roads
  • Establishment of community spaces (village rooms)


Environment and Protection of Natural Resources

  • Increase in awareness and protection of biodiversity and natural resources
  • Protection of pasturelands and preservation of the ecosystem in Kavar
  • Preservation of traditional and natural means of production
  • Increase in eco-friendly farming practices

 Rural Policies

  • Establishment of an independent monitoring system for impact-evaluation
  • Creating dialogue on rural poverty and rural development among NGOs, governmental agencies and academia
  • Attracting the attention of the private sector to issues of rural development and rural poverty

Social Development

  • Increase in literacy ratios
  • Provision of early childhood education services
  • Increase in primary school graduation ratios and increased enrollment in secondary education
  • Increase access to basic health services
  • Decrease in prevalence of infectious diseases.

Women’s Empowerment

  • Increase in women’s literacy
  • Increase in the rate of visits to the hospital during pregnancy
  • Increase in hospital delivery rates
  • Increase in the use of vaccination registration cards
  • Increase in the regular use of modern methods of birth control.


Partnership and Collaboration

  • Doubling the project budget through public and third-party investment in Kavar
  • Increase in cooperation and partnership between Kavar community and the local government.