ICF Turkey is an experienced chapter for conducting pro bono coaching projects. Through our 14 years of experience we have developed a series of beliefs and understandings about what makes pro bono coaching effective:
- We believe that sustainability is the most important factor to see long-term impact of pro bono coaching projects.
- We understand that pro bono coaching has two purposes in society. The first is to support people who need coaching but are unable to afford the fee. The second is to introduce coaching into different levels of society.
- We believe that education is the most important criterion for developing countries like ours.
- We also believe there are three important components of education which are interconnected: young people, teachers, and mothers/parents.
Our first project, “Hand-in-Hand with Youth”, was dedicated to university students and ran 2007-2020. Focused on young people, this project received the ICF Chapter Award in 2010 in the category of Local Spirit Global Presence—Community Activism, and received a Gift of Coaching Award in 2016. Until 2015, our pro bono coaching projects were dedicated to young people, especially university students. For that reason, we partnered with different NGOs and public universities. We continue to provide coaching to university students by partnering with Soroptimist Turkey Federation and GDN Youth Platform.
While our 2007 project focused on students, in 2015, we introduced another project focused on teachers, the second component of education. “Support Education, Invest to the Future” is still continuing for 7 years.
To cover the third component of education (mothers), we started “Hand-in-Hand with Women” in 2016. As we developed this project, we aimed to empower women who are illiterate and work as unqualified workers. This is a group coaching project, and we work with women who do not know each other and who have different profiles (different ages, religions, education levels, and ethnicities). Confidentiality and equality are particularly important when working with such a diverse group. ICF Core Competencies (establishing trust and active listening) are especially important. During the debriefing session, one of the attendees told us that “nobody listened to me in my whole life like you listen”. In our sessions with these women, we are creating space for their self expression. When women experience these skills, they begin using them at home, and the social impact begins like a ripple effect.
Because we believe that sustainability is the most important factor to the long-term impact of pro bono coaching projects, we design them with that value in mind. The ICF Turkey project “10,000 Young Torches” is an example. We began on the 90th anniversary of the foundation of TED (Turkish Education Association) in 2018, dreaming to reach 10,000 young torches supported by coaching by 2028, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of TED.
The three projects above led our chapter to receive the 2019 Gift of Coaching Award, Portfolio Category from ICF Foundation. When we see the positive outcomes of our pro bono coaching projects, and experience the motivation of ICF Foundation awards, we set higher standards for our future pro bono projects.
Recently we designed a pro bono coaching project with one of the Rotary Clubs in Turkey with a reduced coaching fee. One coach provides coaching service to one Rotarian with a reduced fee and the same coach provides another person (Rotaract) with service free of charge.
To expand the impact of coaching we are aiming to introduce coaching to different levels of society. In 2021, we began a new project for blind university students. Our partner in this project is TÜRGÖK (Turkey Library for the Visually Impaired). They are lending to students books published in Braille alphabet and audio. Because the coaches provide coaching to the blind students on the phone, we named the project “From Voice to Heart”.
Since we are aiming to extend coaching coverage throughout Turkey, we initiated a group coaching project in 2021 for women agricultural workers who live and work in the Southern region of Turkey. The title “Hands with Henna” references the applying of henna which is a traditional ritual in rural areas.
Also as part of our dissemination policy, our “Strengthened Wings” project serves entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. We support entrepreneurs of the future in cooperation with two local partners– the university, and the innovation center of the city.
In conclusion I can say, experience has driven the design of our projects, and the success is getting around. We are receiving many pro bono project requests from different NGOs and our members. Building on lessons learned from prior work and adhering to our beliefs underpins our successes.
Nuray Akmeric spent the majority of her professional life in IT industry with management roles. In 2010, she started her company to provide coaching, consulting, and training based on her deep professional experience gained mostly in multinational companies – IBM, Software AG, SAS Institute. She has been awarded as the most successful woman of Turkish IT sector in 2005 by Dunya Newspaper. As a professional coach, she holds the certifications in Career Coaching (Certified Executive Career Coach) and Organization & Relationship Systems Coaching (Organization and Relationship Systems Certified Coach). She also holds PCC credential of International Coaching Federation (ICF) since 2016. She is the member of ICF Turkey since 2011 and currently she is the President of ICF Turkey.