Turkey: Harnessing Sustainable Linkages for SMEs in Turkey’s Textile Sector


Although economic and social conditions in Turkey have improved rapidly in the last 10 years, the country still suffers from some key development challenges, including significant regional disparities and high unemployment among youth and women. Targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the textile sector, the largest and most labour-intensive sector in Turkey, this innovative Joint Programme assisted local businesses to develop sustainable competitiveness and improve working conditions, particularly for women in disadvantaged communities in poor areas.

The Textile and Apparel Sector (T/A) is one of the most important sectors in Turkey in terms of contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), employment generation and net exports. However, the industry needs to be more productive, innovative and responsive to the requirements of consumers in order to remain competitive.  

The programme collaborated with Istanbul Textile and Exporters Union (İTKİB) to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the textile sector in poor areas of Turkey in adopting an efficient, highly qualified and responsible management structure that will make them more competitive in national and international markets. 

The programme place a special focus on women entrepreneurs, and focused on two outcomes:

  1. Strengthening the productivity, innovation and competitiveness of SMEs in the Turkish textile and apparel industry through enhanced collaboration and networking, especially in poor and vulnerable areas such as Central and South-eastern Anatolia; and
  2. Promoting decent working environments by ensuring that sustainable development, corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles and gender equality are integrated into business processes and practices. 
Main achievements included:
  • An online Value Chain Management Platform, www.styleturkish.com, was activated by İTKİB to help T/A value chain actors improve productivity, networking, collaboration and competitiveness in international markets. At the end of the programme, the platform had 5,217 active members.
  • The capacity of national SME support and advisory institutions in the field of clustering and business linkage development was enhanced. Some 95 people were trained in cluster development, more than 100 SMEs participated in the cluster diagnostic studies, and another 26 in network analysis.
  • An assessment report on CSR in Turkey’s textile and apparel industry was produced.  Five business models were studied and developed within the scope of the report.
  • A CSR-based management and reporting tool for Turkish SMEs in the textile and apparel sector was piloted and made available to the local private sector.
  • The programme established a competitiveness network to be coordinated by Kahramanmaraş Chamber of Trade and Industry at the local level, with participation from all pilot provinces (chambers, regional development agencies, universities). The Sustainable Competitiveness Platform is a unique model in which İTKİB was involved and provides support for the textile sector outside Istanbul. If it proves successful, it could be replicated in other provinces.


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Turkey.



The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 07 Jan 2010 - 31 Dec 2012
Net funded amount $2,683,379
Participating UN agencies UNIDO, UNDP, ILO
National partners Ministry of Industry and Trade, General Secretariat of the “Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters’ Associations” (ITKIB) (tied to Prime Ministry Under-secretariat for Foreign Trade)
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