Arzum Meleksoy

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Arzum Meleksoy was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
In the underdeveloped and underfunded Turkish citizen sector, Arzum has designed an entirely new mechanism for building interest, awareness, and citizen support for Turkey’s most innovative social projects. Her Internet platform links Internet users and businesses with Turkish citizen organizations (COs) in a way that directs corporate money to projects or organizations of an individual’s choosing. With it, Arzum is establishing a habit of support for the citizen sector that she anticipates will result in increased giving and engagement with the sector through channels other than the web.
In Turkey, since there is neither much citizen or business awareness and support for Turkey’s best COs, the large majority of funding for the sector comes from government. People are often unaware of social projects taking place in their neighborhoods, and do not know what avenues would enable them to contribute even in the smallest ways. Arzum is harnessing the power of the Internet to give people a choice about which citizen groups and projects receive support, and to build an online community of socially committed citizens. Arzum’s website gives users a way to direct corporate money to the organizations of their choice just by regular online activity like e-shopping through Amazon or sending e-greeting cards. In this way, citizens give without having to make an additional financial contributions, and corporate donations go where there is a significant citizen demand for support. 
As the number of Internet users grows in Turkey—especially among the young and educated—the success and scale of Arzum’s website will only increase. Turkish citizens living in the U.S. and Germany are among her more than 1,500 members, along with thousands more that use her e-cards. Arzum would like to reach 15 million users in ten years, and in doing so, help shape a new citizenry in Turkey that feels responsible and engaged in the work of COs.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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