On October 23, 2011, the Van earthquakes rocked eastern Turkey leaving more than 11,000 buildings with sustained damages and at least 60,000 residents homeless. This devastating event spurred a disaster preparedness initiative entitled “Business Disaster Resiliency Program for Turkey” (or “Sağlam KOBI” in Turkish) which was developed by the World Economic Forum, Corporate Social Responsibility Association of Turkey (CSR Turkey), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and The UPS Foundation.
Sağlam KOBI aims to engage the private and public sector and civil society organizations to work together to identify best practices to enhance the resiliency of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Turkey. This collective effort aspires to provide SMEs with a suite of resources designed to assist them in becoming more resilient to disasters and business interruptions.
“The faster businesses can recover after a disaster, the more quickly the community can recover,” said Marc DeCourcey, Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber Foundation. “For five years, the Chamber Foundation has been proud to work with The UPS Foundation, the World Economic Forum, and CSR Turkey to help ensure SMEs are prepared if a disaster strikes and strengthen communities in Turkey for the long-term.”
Sağlam KOBI was publicly launched on September 17, 2013. As the fifth year of the program comes to a close, Sağlam KOBI has scaled its impact through not only continuing the direct trainings for SMEs but now also offers Train the Trainer sessions to educate more trainers to help SMEs prepare a disaster preparedness plan. In the last five years, nearly 2,500 SMEs have participated in more than 65 trainings from 25 cities across Turkey. Additionally, there have been 90,000 individuals who have accessed the free resources available on the Sağlam KOBI website.
“Our mission has been to enhance community resilience initiatives which will not only help build stronger and safer communities in Turkey, but can also be leveraged to enhance preparedness of the international business community on a global scale," said Eduardo Martinez, President of The UPS Foundation. "As part of our Humanitarian Relief & Resilience Program, we look for opportunities to build relief sector capacity by engaging with thought leaders like the World Economic Forum and the U.S. Chamber Foundation."
Tools originally created for Sağlam KOBI have since been adapted and translated into Resilience in a Box which is a resource used in several countries around the world including Haiti, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. In partnership with the UN’s Connecting Business initiative, Resilience in a Box has been shared with Disaster Risk Reduction platforms globally.
On the 7th Anniversary of the devastating Van Earthquake, UPS Turkey Country Manager Mr. Burak Kılıç gives the following message to emphasize the importance of the resilient businesses in the society, "After any earthquake, it is quite a tough process to relieve people and businesses and ensure a quick return to daily life. As part of the community in which we continue to operate, UPS Turkey believes that the resilient SMEs too will support the society for relieving people and business in the recovery phase of a disaster. The UPS Foundation will continue to support SMEs for a disaster-resilient society."
No one hopes that another disaster like the Van earthquakes happen again. However, it is not a question of if a disaster is going to happen but when. Through the preparedness efforts of Sağlam KOBI, the Turkish private sector has become more resilient and will be better equipped when the next disaster does strike.