Agriculture has an impact on everything. It's the basis of human civilization, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. Being in the middle of a global pandemic, witnessing destructive wildfires and floods all over the world that are leaving people without a home or a farm might be the tip of the iceberg. Climate change has reached a place where farming and agriculture face serious difficulties, not only through environmental conditions but also through water conservation and keeping a healthy supply chain. From sustainable agriculture to water conservation, ecological packaging to agriculture drones, we have designed a program together with Türkiye İş Bankası that aims to touch and improve all aspects of agriculture, to create a better future. In the scope of Türkiye İş Bankası’s Workup program, we are joining forces for WorkupAgri.
WorkupAgri is a 6-month accelerator program that aims to provide solutions in agricultural technology. The program will include a partnership opportunity with İş Bankası and their network, exposure, and access to business opportunities. To raise awareness surrounding the program, we hosted our very first Agritech Online Meetup on August 31st. The speakers of the event were İş Bankası executives Şahismail Şimşek, H. Mete Güneş and Kerem Akıner, along with Kaan Akın.
Hackquarters founder and CEO Kaan Akın kicked off the meetup by explaining the scope and details of the program, like the aim of WorkupAgri, the verticals the program will cover, the time frame, and the benefits the program will provide for all parties involved. He touched upon one of the most valuable aspects of the program, which is the mentors. Ranging from executives in not only İş Bankası, but other companies like Baker McKenzie, Coca Cola, Migros, Nestle, GE, John Hopkins Technology Ventures, and government-funded foundations like Enterprise Singapore, Business France, and Gov.UK; the program supplies diverse expertise and scaling opportunities through all of its mentors.
Akın invited Türkiye İş Bankası’s Deputy Chief Officer Şahismail Şimşek to take the stage. Şimşek began the address by emphasizing how agriculture has many different components. As a bank, they are very aware that improving agriculture and all its processes and outputs go beyond just financial support and digitalization. He continues with, "Today is a wonderful day for us. In just two years, we've expanded our support for agriculture from a competition we held to an extensive program such as WorkupAgri."
The meetup went on with a panel between Kaan Akın, H. Mete Güneş, Türkiye İş Bankası, Digital Banking Division Head and Kerem Akıner, Türkiye İş Bankası, Department Manager of Agricultural Banking. Akıner pointed out that "As a bank, we are ready to provide all kinds of support and opportunity that might contribute to the program, whether it's technology, human resources or business connections." Güneş explained the scope of Workup, how they are learning so many new things and implementing that vast experience to increase Türkiye İş Bankası's impact on the startup ecosystem. While mentioning how Maxis, İş Bankası's very own Venture Capital Investment Fund, was founded with the mission to support entrepreneurs; Güneş added, "All of our learnings and our country's maturity level in this area help support our progress. We have thoughts on implementing our experience into different verticals or expanding existing verticals."
The Agritech Online Meetup concluded with a very engaging and interactive Q&A session, where people who have applied to or are considering applying for the program got the chance to get all their questions answered, directly from the Hackquarters team, and Türkiye İş Bankası executives.