First clustering in the textile area
Another remarkable activity of the GIDEM Office in Adıyaman is "Clustering in the Textile Sector".
New Horizons - Already practiced in many industrial sectors in various parts of Turkey, the clustering process in the textile sector was first developed in Adıyaman in December 2004. We asked Sırrı Özen about the meaning and purpose of "clustering".
Sırrı Özen (S.Ö.): In this context, clustering means to form a chain of values in a certain sector in a specific region, by combining all the links in that sector and thus contribute to its development. What supports the textile sector is not only production; financing and technical infrastructure are also very important.
UNDP Turkey: Do public institutions join the clustering, too?
S.Ö.: Yes, banks and financial institutions, educational institutions and transport companies --in short, all establishments and enterprises, including the media-- which play a role in the sector are involved in the clustering.
UNDP Turkey: Is this activity directly related to ATEM?
S.Ö.: No. ATEM and 'clustering' are separate projects, but currently they overlap. Clustering covers a very large area and ATEM is the textile education part of it. Training is a vital link for the ready-to-wear sector. If you want to develop this sector you definitely need human resource. You cannot just push the button and make textile production without human labour. That is why ATEM became an essential link in the clustering process. This city needed such an initiative.
UNDP Turkey: So you started the clustering activity at the same time with the opening of ATEM?
S.Ö.: Yes, we opened ATEM, and on the same day we held a meeting with the representatives from the GAP Development Agency and the UNDP. We discussed the problems of the sector and everybody listed their concerns. The issues were evaluated and classified under different topics, and we developed 32 projects in 10 areas. Every project addresses a different problem. But the project list was flexible; later on we added some new projects and eliminated some others.
UNDP Turkey: What is the specific purpose of this clustering? To develop the sector or to open up to the outside world?
S.Ö.: To develop the sector. And that includes every thing else. First comes the overall development of the textile sector. We want to manufacture in all areas of the textile industry in Adıyaman. One of the factors hindering development in the region is insufficient socialization. In fact, one of our projects aims to enhance social exchange and increase cultural activities here. Technical staff who come to town to work soon become unhappy because of the lack of social activity, and they don't stay here for long. There are no cinemas, no theatres... This was one of the issues the local committee focused on. The local committee is only a pressure group, they don't have a magic wand to produce cinemas and theatres. But they can create a social pressure to encoure the opening of such cultural venues. As a matter of fact, as the textile sector grows bigger, we are having more and more visitors from outside. As a result of the demand by the businessmen from Istanbul who do business here, we now have direct flights between Adıyaman and Istanbul.
UNDP Turkey: How many companies joined the organisation?
S.Ö.: Currently there are 9 companies in the Local Committee. Also there are non-governmental organizations, university and KOSGEB representatives.
UNDP Turkey: Were there any companies which wanted to join but were refused?
S.Ö.: No. Our door is open to everyone, because this is a voluntary work. We want to have as many companies as we can get. We have an e-mail group among the Local Committee members and we are communicating closely.
UNDP Turkey: So you will probably start a website soon?
S.Ö.: Yes, that has become a must.
UNDP Turkey: What kind of activities did you carry out within the framework of the clustering?
S.Ö. We set up a local committee to discuss our issues and the ways of addressing them. Gaining the cooperation of universities and the industry was important for us. So we decided to invite students from universities' textile departments. During our last two meetings, we brought together textile company managers with students and provided them the opportunity to work in factories as intern personnel. Some 70-80 students came to us. In fact, one of these students said to one of the industrialists, "Before I met you all, I didn't picture this sector, the textile business and its businessmen like I found here. Now, I like my profession more." Those meetings opened up new horizons for students who previously lived in a small, closed world.
UNDP Turkey: Are there any participation from the governor's office, the municipality and the public sector?
S.Ö.: They don't usually participate in our meetings, but whenever we need their help, they readily offer it.
UNDP Turkey: In what stage are the projects which have been developed by the cluster? Were you able to get any funding?
S.Ö.: There are 32 projects in all, but not all of them are suitable to attract funding. We will ask for funding for 10 projects. The EU Commission is ready to fund those, because they all aim to improve the sector, create employment, reduce poverty and contribute to development, although there are a few problems we need to overcome.
Companies' point of view on clustering
What do the participating companies think about the clustering activities? Why have they joined in this work? Why do they spare time to contribute to these efforts? We wanted to learn the industrialists' point of view from Rıza Ceyhan, owner of Estetik Dokuma Tekstil:
Rıza Ceyhan (R.C.): We got involved in the project through GAP-GIDEM office. We were already in touch with KOSGEB and GIDEM before the project started. When we heard that they were going to develop such a project we volunteered to join, because we had a textile business in Ankara for 20 years, before we came here. I've been in Adıyaman for 6 years now. The reason that brought me here was social responsibility, the thought that we should return to our home town. Maybe because I previously worked in the education sector, my sense of social responsibity is strong.
UNDP Turkey: So what do you do? What are your project activities?
R.C.: When they first told me about the textile project in Adıyaman, I didn't have a too optimistic idea about it. Then when I found out that a similar project had been realized in Sultanahmet, Istanbul in the tourism area and heard about its positive impact, I began to believe it could produce some good results in Adıyaman, too. In Adıyaman textile has a self-developing structure. It's not an organized sector. It has developed by itself, as a field of occupation of people who did not know the business but had economic power. Therefore, a serious organisation was definitely needed in order to bring those people together and help them become more professional and successful. I believed clustering would create such an organization. We have already benefited from it. Human resource shortage in the textile sector is now being dealt with. We've had energy resource problems and some troubles with the industrial zone. Shortage of qualified workers is a major problem. Our employees are mostly women from poor or low income groups; poorly educated or illiterate. We have to overcome this problem. We need to create projects and build continuous training facilities. All companies try to create these conditions more or less, but these are individual efforts. With this project, we can set things according to the rules and in an official way. I am also a committee member in the textile division of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC). The president of CIC supported us on this matter and with the initiation of GİDEM, the project is finally realized.
UNDP Turkey: Was it difficult in the beginning to cooperate with the other companies in the sector you normally compete with?
R.C.: My position is a bit different. My firm is the only one which produces under its own brand name and sells to the domestic market in Turkey. We have our own styling workshop, our own cutting, fitting and sewing workshops. I market to 60 cities. For that reason, my company does not have much competition. On the contrary, cooperating in this project created one big advantage; it provided the opportunity for all uf us, all companies, to put an end to "stealing" qualified personnel from one another. We have formed a common sense. We created new ideas together and realized our common interests.
UNDP Turkey: But sometimes you have lecturers and listeners from outside, don't you?
R.C.: Yes, certainly. Civil society organizations join us, too. We've had some problems with the Turkish Electricity Distribution Company (TEDAŞ). We invited its General Manager to our meeting. We had some problems with the Postal Service (PTT) company, so we invited the Director . That's how problems are solved, because it's a social organization that they have to deal with. We are a social organization and we have a social problem. They wouldn't turn a deaf ear.
UNDP Turkey: To what do you attribute the success of your project?
R.C.: The only factor behind the success of this project is the sense of ownership of its stakeholders. If you don't have this feeling of 'owning' it or belonging to it, success would not come. There is no other Turkey, and no other Adıyaman, either. So, we have to do something. Almost all our friends and fellow businessmen in this sector carry the same mentality. That's how the project works so smoothly.