The Middle East and Turkey are getting lots of attention in the media because of President Trump's recent trip and because of several conflicts in the region. One bright spot is Hanzade Doğan-Boyner one of the most popular and successful business people in the region.

When you think of Amazon, Alibaba or Rakuten, you think online shopping. Another to add to this list is Hepsiburada.com. Last year Hepsiburada.com hit 1 Billion dollars in sales.

She left Turkey in early 90's and obtained a business degree from the London School of Economics. After just a couple of years back in Turkey, she moved to the United States to earn an MBA from Columbia University. After graduation, Hanzade joined Goldman Sachs, but her true calling of making an impact on other people's lives made her return to Turkey and start her business. In 1998, Hanzade, together with her two sisters, launched a site, calling it 'Hepsiburada' - which means "everything is here" in Turkish.

The site took off, and today, Hepsiburada is the largest online retailer in the region - covering Turkey, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa delivering over 2.5 million products a month across 30 categories. The site gets 65 million visits, 7 million app downloads a month and is a leader in mobile, smart logistics, payment solutions, data & analytics.

"E-commerce wasn't an accidental choice of businesses," according to Hanzade. E-commerce is the one industry that allows her to empower people to provide for themselves. Today buying and selling online cannot possibly exist without broad access to broadband networks and mobile communications. Through her company's technology investments, Hanzade widened Turkey's broadband access networks to rural areas, welcoming significant numbers of new consumers to get on board.

In comparison with regional players, Souq.com, a well-established competitor in the region, has 23 million online visits a month and sells more than 400,000 products, from televisions to perfumes a month was just purchased by Amazon. In March, Amazon Inc. agreed to buy the Dubai-based online company betting that e-commerce in the region is about to experience substantial growth. Souq.com and Amazon did not disclose deal terms, but Amazon beat out another bid of $800 million dollars.

Total retail sales across the globe will top $27 trillion by 2020. In a recent report, eMarketer expects retail e-commerce sales will increase to $4.058 trillion by 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending that year. Looking at worldwide growth trends both Amazon and Hepsiburada.com are bound to have lots of competition in the coming years as the e-commerce market in the region grows.

Another of Hanzade's passions and business strategies is to get women involved in the market. The participation rate of women in the workforce is an alarming 27.5% in Turkey. 92% of all entrepreneurs are male, with a mere 8% being women. Hanzade believes Ecommerce levels the playing field for women both in Turkey and across the region."Having our Hepsiburada platform structured the way it is, allowed thousands of new merchants to join the commercial opportunity, and the onboarding of these new merchants was one of the most fulfilling experiences." Hepsiburada has over 7,000 active merchants on its platform who now have the opportunity to participate in commerce and an economy, that otherwise limits their entry.

Doğan-Boyner, who's been named among Fortune's Most Powerful Women, and who speaks regularly at the World Economic Forum annual summit in Davos, finds the most passion and satisfaction from her philanthropic work. This week, Hepsiburada announced the launch of a new program that encourages women entrepreneurs to engage in e-commerce ventures. The program aims to graduate 1000 new women entrepreneurs by the end of 2017.

One of Hanzade's proudest accomplishments is a program she began five years ago in her role as Chairwoman of Aydın Doğan Foundation. Getting the government on board as a supporter, she started the "Dad, Send Me To School" campaign that aims to eliminate economic and cultural barriers in young female education across Turkey. The initiative has thus far provided 11,100 girls with scholarships, completed the development of 33 girls' dormitories, built elementary schools in 12 villages that had no schools before, and established 11 'village' schools for rural areas.

Hepsiburada.com was chosen as Turkey's favorite brand three years in a row. We will see if that brand loyalty will help fend off Amazon and other competition that is sure to put pressure on the company.

Published on: Jun 2, 2017
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