Bedriye Hulya

Ashoka Fellow
Turkey,
Fellow Since 2012

Citation

This profile was prepared when Bedriye Hulya was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Bedriye uses the b-Fit health and sports center as a medium for female empowerment—which she believes requires women’s access to physical and mental space free from their traditional gender roles and male pressures; to discover their bodies and potential as women. b-Fit launched in 2006 when Bedriye, a female entrepreneur struggling to exist in Turkey’s male- dominated business world, came up with the idea and leveraged resources from five women entrepreneurs in various fields, including public relations, psychology and fitness, to make her idea of a women-only sports and health center a reality.

Within eight years of creating her first “by and for women” b-Fit, thousands of women have come together as a result of Bedriye’s work. They have left their homes, enjoyed their bodies through sports, developed self-awareness, and attended trainings on a wide-range of issues including nutrition, hygiene, sexual health, communication, leadership, and entrepreneurship. In addition, b-Fit enables hundreds of women to enter professional work and gain economic citizenship.

Today, b-Fit has become the largest and most widespread health and recreation center chain in the country, significantly transforming a sector that is largely dominated by male-only billiard halls, weightlifting saloons, and football fields. It has also formed a community of empowered women entrepreneurs who are shaping attitudes toward women’s capabilities as leaders and decision makers, especially in the traditionally male-dominated fields of entrepreneurship and the sports industry. Co-owned, franchised, managed, and used by women only, the b-Fit model combines a gym with a community center to form alternative spaces where women of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to develop a range of essential life-skills. Having impacted over 90,000 women in 200 centers in Turkey, one in Northern Cyprus and another in Germany, b-Fit plans to expand to the Middle East and apply its model to benefit the elderly.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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