Hosted by:
UNDP & Koç Holding

BOOST: Women Innovators | Turkey

Submission deadline:
March 15 (Deadline extended)


BOOST: Women Innovators is an open call for women-led startups in Turkey to scale innovations that leverage the power of emerging technologies and digital tools to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

In the Europe and Central Asia region, women’s entrepreneurial opportunities remain scarce. Women innovators and entrepreneurs face multiple challenges – from lack of access to training and mentoring to limited initiatives promoting women in STEM & business careers. Moreover, the limited access to capital remains one of the leading obstacles for women-led or women-founded startups to scale. In Europe, only 2% of investment capital goes to women-led tech companies/start-ups.  

To help close the gender gap in innovation and entrepreneurship, UNDP and  Koç Holding launched BOOST: Women Innovators in Turkey to boost women-led startups with powerful innovations that can change our future and strengthen the startup ecosystem of women innovators. Investing in women’s empowerment and diversity will fuel innovation, improve business performance, and unlock growth and economic opportunities.

10 women-led startups will be selected to participate in the BOOST innovation acceleration program, and compete for equity-free capital of USD $10,000 upon graduation. Apply by March 15 (deadline extended)!

FAQ (in Turkish)

Selection criteria (in Turkish)

GDPR (in English)

What we're looking for

The call is open for tech-driven innovations in any industry, such as consumer electronics, e-commerce, education, energy, finance, health, logistics, manufacturing, retail, transportation, or others. Innovations should harness technology, including but not limited to: artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Internet of things (IoT), Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud computing, blockchain, wearables, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), robotics, cybersecurity, fuel cell, battery technologies, nanotechnologies, and material technologies. Start-ups working on innovations addressing challenges related to gender inequality are encouraged to apply.  

Eligibility criteria

  • Company registration: The applicant must be a startup registered in Turkey.
  • Innovation stage: Idea, minimum viable product (MVP), pre-or-post revenue stages.
  • Women leadership: Women-led or women-founded startups are eligible to apply.
  • Language skills: Due to the requirements of the program, the participants should be proficient in English. 

Selection criteria

  • Innovation novelty: Technological novelty and/or use of technology to create repeatable and scalable impact. Business model innovations and social innovations are also eligible as long as technology is used or developed. 
  • Sustainable development impact potential: Business models that can help accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  
  • Management: Established team with clear roles and responsibilities. Experts with technical backgrounds to develop prototypes or products must be present in the team. The start-up should demonstrate it has the capacity to implement the innovation within 6-9 months.  
  • Viability and scalability: Innovations that can be feasibly implemented and are scalable within or even beyond Turkey. 


February 1
Open call
March 15
Application deadline (extended)
May 5
Selection announcement
May 9 – July 28
BOOST program
July 28

Who can apply

Type of applicant:
List of eligible locations:


Gender equality


BOOST is an intensive 16-week online acceleration program that includes a series of training modules, workshops and individual mentoring sessions led by international experts, experienced in leadership, organizational and business development, digital transformation, and impact measurement and management.  

The program is designed to help selected start-ups to strengthen innovation, technology, and social impact in their business models. Participants learn how to implement impact-driven innovations, increase reach and impact of their businesses, attract alternative financing and other resources, and establish and nurture partnerships. The program aims at strengthening impact-driven capabilities, improving business and digital skills, investment readiness, and soft skills. It enhances the businesses’ visibility and helps them access wider business networks and investors. 

BOOST Journey

1 Applications open until March 15
2 10 startups selected
3 Needs and digital maturity assessmen
4 Module 1: Sensemaking
5 Module 2-4: Leadership, business development and entrepreneurship
6 Module 5: Learn to launch a crowdfunding campaign
7 Module 6: Behavioral insights
8 Mentorship sessions and getting pitch ready
9 Demo day – pitch in front of investors


MODULE 1: Sensemaking

Sensemaking is a strategic tool that enables the generation of learnings, identifies connections between different actors, and results in systemic-level insights. BOOST participants are taken through a sensemaking exercise to gain a broader understanding of the ecosystem in which they operate, and what inherent yet unseen interconnections can be leveraged between different innovations within the cohort. The exercise helps to reveal what resources and capabilities each innovation is bringing to the common challenge, and nurtures partnerships between the participants throughout the program. 

MODULE 2: Business Development

A step-by-step roadmap to building enduring business models, using best practices and input from successful entrepreneurs from across the globe. The module includes sessions around design thinking, value proposition, business model innovation, branding strategies, and more. 

MODULE 3: Digital transformation

The module consists of a personalized journey through a series of workshops and mentorship guidance, helping organizations define, assess, and manage their digital strategy. The module helps participants establish a framework and assess their current approach to digital technology and how a digital strategy can transform their impact. 

MODULE 4: Impact measurement and management

In this module, startups are supported with capacity and needs assessment, gap analysis and identification of impact vision and strategy. The assessment is followed by the design of a theory of change built on the ‘Business Lean Model’, and selection of relevant matrix and indicators toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

MODULE 5: Crowdfunding

BOOST offers access to UNDP’s Crowdfunding Academy, which builds the capacities of participants to diversify their funding sources by designing and running crowdfunding campaigns. Through online lectures and hands-on exercises, participants learn how to create the key elements of a successful crowdfunding campaign so that they can launch their own. 

Module 6: Behavioral Insight

This module introduces the participants to behavioral insights and its applications, looking at human behavior and the various cognitive and behavioral biases that drive this behavior. Theoretical material is complemented with real-world examples of how different institutions use behavioral insights to nudge individuals to make beneficial decisions for themselves and for society. 

Apply today for the BOOST: Women Innovators program!
Join our growing network of changemakers across the region as we build resilience and shape our future.
Submit your innovation

Key partners

About Koç Holding


Koç Holding is the leading investment holding company that focuses on sustainable and profitable growth in Turkey and international markets. Believing that strong and stable communities are vital foundations for building successful business, Koç Holding focuses on driving large-scale programmes that target widespread change. Koç Holding has been a first-mover in supporting many community investment initiatives over the years. In order to use its scale and trigger positive change, Koç Holding also mobilizes its Group companies to create momentum with their employees and partners.


Accelerator Program Implementation Partner: KWORKS


Koç University Entrepreneurship Center (KWORKS) serves as a hub of entrepreneurship activity in Istanbul, assisting tech startups grow into sustainable, scalable, successful ventures. KWORKS connects technology entrepreneurs to valuable resources, experienced mentors and potential investors to set them on the right path. KWORKS also contributes to the growth of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Turkey by offering various programs and trainings, aiming to facilitate innovation and digital transformation in established organizations.