Hüsnü Özyeğin RA 63 Shows Social Impact Takes Many Forms

“Business and social enterprises will have to collaborate more meaningfully.”

One of the titans of the Turkish business world, Hüsnü Özyeğin believes his real legacy is the impact generated by the social enterprises he founded or supported. Özyeğin shares his perspective and advice on how social impact can make life more meaningful and society a better place. 

“I am often described as a serial entrepreneur in Turkey, as I have created and invested in dozens of companies across fourteen countries. Although I am very proud of these business successes, it is, in fact, the social enterprises I have founded or supported - such as Özyeğin University, Hüsnü Özyeğin Foundation or Mother Child Education Foundation – that have given me the greatest fulfillment.

"Together with my wife Ayşen, we began our giving as soon as we were financially able. This sense of responsibility was ingrained in me first by my family and then by my school Robert College. The opportunities we were bestowed with at RC such as theatre, sports, and student politics were the foundations of my future endeavors. This education and social awareness set me apart from my peers in business. Since my own life opportunities were directly influenced by my education, I have chosen education as my mission in social investments and entrepreneurship. I am very proud that through our social investments we have touched the lives of close to a million and a half people in Turkey.

"Encouraging entrepreneurship is a unique aspect of Özyeğin University. We decided from the outset that we would emphasize social entrepreneurship. Every student takes classes in social entrepreneurship and has opportunities to take part in our Foundation projects such as rural development in Bitlis or teaching children English. Our award-winning Center for Entrepreneurship also runs incubators, accelerators as well as seed funding for students who set up social start-ups. This awareness and engagement not only make for a well-rounded individual - sensitive to diversity, more tolerant, and socially conscious - but also opens up different career pathways.

"This notion of giving back or social entrepreneurship can take many forms; it is about finding what is right for you. It also depends on your passion and capabilities, but it should always be rooted in the need. Giving back to Robert College fulfilled all these principles for me. I wanted students at RC to engage in social issues, discuss solutions and act and their efforts be recognized and celebrated within RC. Thus, I established the Hüsnü Özyeğin Social Entrepreneurship Award*. I am delighted with the recipients of this award.

"We need a more cohesive and integrated approach to ensure that we have a sustainable and just world for today and future generations. Business and social enterprises will have to collaborate more meaningfully and learn from each other. As companies embrace and are assessed on the ESG (Environment, Sustainability, and Governance) Agenda, I believe there will be even more opportunities for social entrepreneurs to impact business policies and practices."

Published February 2022

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