Berkeley Crowdfunding Startup Renklikoy Empowers Women

As a child, Haas MBA 16 student Sevda Gundogan witnessed the impact of domestic violence on her friends and their mothers. Raised by her grandmother in Turkey, she saw how abuse in many forms (physical, financial, sexual, and psychological)  as well as the practice of child brides destroyed women’s lives, sometimes leading to femicide. Through her teens, she became increasingly alarmed by the statistic that 50% of women in her country experiences domestic violence at least once in their lifetimes.

As an adult, she wanted to do something significant to combat the problem. Employing her training as a top tier consultant, she interviewed a range of people in the ecosystem and quickly identified two problems. First, demand for shelter space outstrips supply—only 2% of women can be admitted, even with short stays of one to six months. Second, even women lucky enough to gain access to a shelter do not always receive the psychological, vocational or housing support to transition successfully back into society as a single earner.

Gundogan founded Renklikoy with these two challenges in mind. The NGO partners with local shelters to identify “graduates” who may have few housing prospects, but who are motivated to either employ or learn farming skills. Program participants will receive up to two years of counseling, job training, mentoring and support from their fellow residents.

In turn, Renklikoy (Turkish for “colorful village”) will grow and sell locally sourced food via a subscription model to busy professionals with disposable income and a need for healthy convenience. Food will be farmed and distributed by the residents, creating a virtuous and sustainable cycle that respects the land, nourishes community members and decreases the stigma of being a domestic violence survivor.

Gundogan and a range of teammates (Brigid Warmerdam, Emanuele Rusina, Elisse Karen, Rodrigo Pagianotto) continued to refine Renklikoy in last week’s Social Impact Discovery class. During the intense 48 hour class, the team conducted additional customer discovery and pitched to a panel of social impact investors and entrepreneurs. In addition to be selected by the panel as one of the top three concepts, the team gained an additional insight around raising awareness. “We need to elevate the conversation and let it be known that domestic violence is not an acceptable part of being a woman,” says Gundogan.

Renklikoy was also selected as a member of the initial cohort of Berkeley Crowdfunding. Learn more and support social impact ventures by making your tax deductible contribution here until October 15: