Interview With A Female Entrepreneur In Turkey – Anne from Natura by Anne
Anne is a Norweigan expat woman and entrepreneur living in Turkey. She moved to Istanbul two years ago and here she talks about how she came up with the idea to start her own business in Turkey. She has a company Natura by Anne which develops and sells natural, unprocessed snacks.
Read her tips on doing business in Turkey, what she would like to change and what she wish she had known before starting a business in Turkey.
Here is what she says about herself:
I’m originally from Norway but moved to Istanbul 2 years ago to be with what is now my husband. In Norway, my life was quite different from here. I finished a business degree a few years ago and worked for a leading Software company doing business development. After struggling with several health problems and a lot of food intolerances I developed a passion for nutrition and exploring what a healthy lifestyle means, and eventually, I also started studying that to learn more! When I moved to Turkey I found no products that could support my new, healthy lifestyle, and in the end realized I had to make it myself. What was once something I made for me in my kitchen soon turned into a business here in Turkey!
My company Natura by Anne develops and sells natural, unprocessed snacks, and we now have 6 products in the market; 3 chia bars and 3 chia bites (small size). They only contain chia seeds, nuts, dried fruit and spices, and come in three delicious flavors! That snacks are perfect to bring with you while on the go and suits anyone with a busy lifestyle who still wants to take care of their body in a tasty way. We sell at about 100 different coffee shops, online markets, and organic shops, but can also be bought online at our website.
When did you move to Turkey?
I moved to Istanbul in January 2015.
How did you discover Turkey? What made you decide to come and live here?
I first came to Turkey on a weekend trip to visit one of my closest friends who was living here as an expat. On my first night in Istanbul we went out for dinner and some drinks, and my friend introduced me to a tall, handsome and well articulated Turkish man, who I’m now lucky enough to call my husband. After a few years of a long distance relationship, I was finally ready to make the leap of faith and move here so we could be together full time!
How was your experience with setting up and opening the company in Turkey?
It was a bit of an uphill journey of bureaucracy to start a company here. We quickly realized it would be easier to have a Turkish name on the company too, and hence my husband is a part owner. He helped a lot in the process of setting it up, and at the time, with little-to-no Turkish language skills, it would have been completely impossible for me to do alone. I know the government actually do provide a lot of support, especially to female entrepreneurs, but again the language can be a barrier, and you need to know Turkish to be able to go through the application process. Once the registration process was over, however, it´s been a fun journey!
What surprised me the most in day-to-day business life here is that most businesses are run on hand written invoices, printed papers and little or no software. That was hard for me to accept at first, especially coming from the software industry where we were working specifically to make everything paperless and cloud based.
I love that business here is a relationship based though, and in general, I’ve been accepted very easily as a foreign, female entrepreneur in Turkey. Today I run the company with my partner Fatma, and that has also opened a lot of doors as she has Turkish ancestors and knows the language and culture much better than me!
Would you recommend other expats invest in a business in Turkey?
I think Turkey offers almost endless opportunities! I would highly recommend it to anyone, but you have to be prepared to do business the Turkish way, and that there are some bureaucratic hurdles to get over. I think it´s a huge advantage to be a foreigner, as we can introduce concepts, products or ideas that we have seen work in other markets, but might not have reached Turkey yet. With a population of 80 million people, Turkey offers a huge market potential!
Is the business environment in Turkey different from the one in Norway? What would you change in the business environment in Turkey if you could?
Yes, in general, I would say it’s different. Norwegians are very rational and logic based in their way of doing business, meanwhile Turks are much more emotion and relationship driven. There are advantages and disadvantages to both! If I could change anything it would first and foremost be to modernize the business systems, get rid of everything papers and get systems so you can collect data and work seamlessly!
As a female entrepreneur in Turkey, how do you cope with mostly men environment?
This was one of my worries going into this, but I have to say it was completely groundless. I´ve been taken seriously, been respected and helped a lot along the way, and I have not once felt discriminated against. It´s to the extent where I almost think it´s been a benefit, as people who have heard my story, passion, and dreams have been very eager to help in any way they could! I have also encountered almost as many women in this business as men, so there is definitely room for us to do this kind of work in Turkey!
What advice would you give to anyone planning to set up his or her business in Turkey? What’s something you know now you wish you had known before about working in Turkey?
I wish I knew more about the culture, language and how to do business. Misunderstandings can easily occur, and people something perceive what I say the wrong way. The solution has been to always be open and honest, and discuss the fact that I’m from a different culture, and hence might to things differently from what they are used to. With an open and curious mind, most things can be solved!
Tell us more about your products and how did you come up with the idea for your business?
My products started in my kitchen, as I was making healthy snacks for myself to bring around. After one of my many weekend trips to Istanbul, before moving to here, I left some “energy bars” (as I called them) with my husband, as he was complaining about low energy and not having time to find good food. A few days later he had shared them with other friends who loved them too, and they all started saying I should turn it into a business. I knew working in the field of health and nutrition would nurture my life passion so much more than what I was doing at the time in Norway, and the idea started settling in my mind. Once I moved I had to find something else to do with my time anyways, and I also realized it was the perfect place to produce such products as a lot of the ingredients like apples, cherries, nuts and spices can so easily be sourced here. It felt like it was meant to be, and I started the long process of designing the perfect snack!
My criteria were tough; they had to be healthy, tasty and convenient, so product development actually took several months! I´m a perfectionist and did not want to compromise on anything. My product development was also hugely driven by my desire to make something that did not impact blood sugar levels too much. After studying nutrition I know uncontrolled blood sugar spikes are one of the main drivers for a lot of the lifestyle diseases we see today, and it was important for me to make products that would have balanced nutrition to avoid that!
Hope you enjoyed Interview with a female entrepreneur in Turkey with Anne from Natura by Anne.
Have you already tried these healthy snacks? Let us know in the comments.
Wish you all a happy and healthy day! 🙂