Corporate Responsibility award entry

About Our Organizations

Yapı ve Kredi Bankası A.Ş
Opening its doors as Turkey’s first nationwide Private Bank and attaining many revolutionary achievements in banking since its establishment, Yapi Kredi Bank is a large institution that has pioneered many banking services and products familiar to us today and for the future. Our Bank is the fourth biggest private bank in Turkey and a leading company in a multinational group. With its 866 branches and approximately 19.000 employees across Turkey, it serves 91% of the country’s land mass, app. 13 million active customers. One of the 10 most valuable brands in Turkey, Yapı Kredi is a strong franchise with inherent culture of customer-centric core banking focus, innovative banking technologies and sustainable value generation. Yapı Kredi Bank consistently endeavours to fulfill its obligations in fostering society’s continuous development by financially supporting and providing volunteers to accomplish Corporate Social Responsibility projects: primarily for education, the environment, culture and the arts.

Yapı Kredi Banking Academy (YKBA), as the learning and development function of the organization took initiative in aligning its learning strategies with the business strategies. It is responsible for development activities for all employees of the Bank and its financial subsidiaries. Focusing on L&D activities under four areas; Banking, Personal Development, Leadership and Social Responsibility, it provides development programs designed and instructed by internal trainers, leading consultants and academicians to app. 19,000 employees, their families, customers, university students, with the vision of being the leader development center where best bankers of sector are cultivated. Social responsibility is one of the key pillars of YKBA since its foundation. Committed to giving back to the community, YKBA initiated several social responsibility projects within the organization.

Young Guru Academy (YGA)

YGA -Young Guru Academy- is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in Turkey in 2000. It aims to cultivate double winged youth – meaning both socially conscious and competent. Considerate of the problems of society they live in, YGA students develop international projects that would offer solutions. They become role models not just for the innovations but also for the culture of succeeding together in which innovations come to life.

The technology-based social innovations YGA students developed so far include:

  • My Dream Companion platform, facilitating the lives of 200 thousand people with disabilities
  • WeWalk, world’s smartest cane for the visually impaired
  • TWIN Science Kits, making kids love science
  • Know-How, the TV show that promotes science with entertaining experiments.

YGA has received 10 global awards in innovation and technology fields as of now

Project Development

As Yapı Kredi and YGA Volunteers, we believe that the most important thing that we should wish for a child to have is equal opportunity in education.

Science Migration to Anatolia is a social responsibility project initiated by Yapı Kredi Banking Academy in partnership with Young Guru Academy with the aim of reaching children across Turkey who are growing up deprived from science and technology and encourage them to learn and love science.

The project idea is first developed getting inspired by the success story of Prof. Dr. Aziz Sancar, 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, who grew up as one of the eight children of an impoverished family living in a small southeastern Turkish town. Based on his quote “Doing science is not a matter of genetics or intelligence, but of tradition”, the project aims to establish a tradition in embracing science in Turkey.

The project advisory board consists of internationally acknowledged scientists and experts such as Professor of Psychology Doğan Cuceloğlu, and Harvard University & MIT Professor of Biomedical Engineering Mehmet Toner, enriched the project with their guidance on their specific area of expertise.

The main goals of this project are;

  • transform the perception of science in children from difficult, complicated and out of reach to simple, accessible and fun
  • provide unprivileged students with access to same technological tools and resources that are easily available to students in private schools
  • enable children to become future’s pioneering innovators in fields of science

Project Details

Science Migration to Anatolia project targets 12-13-year-old students including children with visual impairments; Syrian refugee children; and students who live in Children Houses (special houses for children who live under state supervision as they lost their families or their families are not found suitable for childcare). The project’s final objective is to reach 5.000 children in 50 cities until the end of 2019.

The main activity in the project is science sessions. Yapi Kredi Bank employees visit various cities across Turkey and volunteer to work with disadvantaged children during 3-hour long science sessions. During these sessions, the children use a science kit called TWIN, developed by YGA volunteer engineers and designers.  TWIN Science Kits are made up of uniquely designed DIY Experiments. TWIN Science Kits use easily combined electronic blocks which are also compatible with LEGO and equivalent educational bricks, to simplify and explain how technological devices, that may at once seem complicated, actually work.

The twin kits offer hands-on playful learning tools and are simple to prepare and use during the science workshops. YKB volunteers assist children in setting experiments by providing them with the tools and by encouraging them to explore and mix these materials.

The volunteers ensure that the sessions take place in a safe and supportive environment, giving students the chance to take risks and learn from their mistakes. At the end of the sessions, children create simple machines such as autonomous cars, reading lamps, and alarm clocks. With the support of Yapı Kredi volunteers the children realized basic science ideas and how these apply regularly in people’s daily lives.

The essence of the project is not only teaching disadvantaged children the basics principles of science but also creating a shift in their mindsets. The activities are designed to tackle children’s prejudices towards science and help them to improve their self-confidence and assertiveness.

Project Management Team

This project wouldn’t be realized without valuable efforts of the project management team. The core project management team consists of app. 20 volunteer professionals from YKB and YGA.

YGA Team: 5 professionals were specifically selected for this project within YGA. This special group is responsible for establishing and managing relationship with Children Houses, arranging the science sessions across Turkey, managing relationship with Yapı Kredi Bank. They also manage relationship with YGA volunteers who participate in Science Sessions to support YKB Volunteers, and prepare all volunteers technically and psychologically via TWIN science kit and psychological trainings both on-site and online.

Yapı Kredi Team: Yapı Kredi Banking Academy selected a professional team of volunteers from HR Department dedicated themselves to the project management and development activities. Approximately 15 HR professionals with various roles and titles promote this project through managing communication with various internal & external stakeholders, recruiting new volunteers, working as main point of contact for volunteers’ questions, preparing and presenting regular reports on science sessions, and finding new social responsibility project ideas for the sake of sustainability.

These two group teamed up and started to work cohesively from day one.

YKB team has a good division of work, where individuals volunteered to own responsibilities. YKB meets regularly every week to monitor the progress and focus on continuous improvement. Since the bank has several locations where volunteers are based, meetings are organized both physically and online.

Similarly, YKB team stays in close contact with YGA mostly through online meetings, and both group is unified in project management process.

Learning to Achieve Together for a Better World

This project established an innovative way of volunteer working. Usually, CSR projects are managed by professional teams within corporate organizations. While there might be certain advantages in this strategy, we believed that intrinsic motivation to manage a project will create greater impact on the project goals and the organization. Therefore, our organization enabled a group of volunteers in HR department with various roles own and manage the project activities. YKB team is responsible for a number of regular tasks to ensure the project activities are running in a correct and timely manner. Similarly, YGA team coordinates several activities. These two groups work in close partnership and in a harmonious way, despite the fact  that they are from two different organizations and in remote locations. This creates a golden opportunity for both groups in learning how to achieve together for social good.

As we implemented an open communication strategy, all volunteers periodically receive information from the voluntary project management team about the project milestones. We ensure that every single individual involved in this project feel as an important part of this project with their valuable contributions. At the end, we hope all our efforts will help to reach a better world.

The impact of Science Migration to Anatolia project on the target group of children is invaluable. Additionally, we are thrilled to observe the benefits of this project on our Volunteer CSR Team as well as on the whole organization.

Benefits to our Team & Organization

  • Increased employee engagement and boosted employee morale: We observed several positive effects of this project on work engagement and job satisfaction of volunteer project management team. First of all, working on this Project give our members that invaluable feeling of making a difference in society. Especially, being a part of a project which aims to reach disadvantaged children and help to change their prejudices towards science makes the whole experience more powerful. Here are testimonials from our team members on being a part of this team:
    -It’s such an amazing experience. It’s an indefinable feeling to make a difference in children’s lives with what we do in this project.
    -The project is very meaningful. Working together as a team for this meaningful goal is invaluable…
    -I have never experienced this in other team works.
    Additionally, with a brief survey we asked our project members in YKB “Is being in this team improve your engagement to the organization?” 90% agreed.
  • Improved internal communication and synergy across the Business Units: YKB employees with different roles and titles in HR department teamed up during the project management activities. This volunteer experience became a great way for us to work together outside of the office, regardless of our titles. Similarly, we managed to build new relationships and improved cross-business unit collaboration. The project helped our team to establish friendly and long-term connections. In our survey, 100% of the respondents agreed that working with this team in this CSR project, improved their business communication and relationships.
  • Cultivated professional network: Working with YKB volunteers participating in science sessions, the project management team built and cultivated their professional network. For instance, a number of our team members who are in junior positions in the organization received thank you calls and emails from Branch Managers and Directors for their efforts in organizing science sessions. Similarly YGA volunteers had the opportunity to build fruitful relationships with working professionals of YKB.
  • Enhanced or newly obtained skills: The project has been a developmental experience for our team where they obtained new skills or enhance current skills such as time management, working under time pressure, decision making, event management and so forth. In our survey, we asked if working with this team in this project help them to obtain new skills. 100% agreed. They also shared that they learn how it’s possible to take initiative in this project regardless of their title within the organization.
    All in all, by being a highly motivated and benefited voluntary CSR Team, we believe all these written above will first improve the success of our project, and indirectly impact our goal which is achieving together for a better world.

A Diverse Project Management Team
Our team consist of members of a for-profit and a non-profit organization. This collaboration brought together diverse experience and knowledge to the project. We have a group of people with different titles, backgrounds, experiences and personalities. We established team rules in a way that everyone is encouraged to share their ideas, and applies their individual skills to advance the project. This mindset is highly innovative for our organisation, which is get used to hierachical communication. This mindset also enabled us to have a broader perspective, and create new project ideas.

The main responsibilities of our project management team includes but not limited to recruiting new volunteers, serving as a point of contact for volunteers’ questions, sending detailed information regarding to the science session visits, managing communication with YGA team and Corporate Communications department of Yapı Kredi Bank, and develop key ideas to improve volunteering engagement and effectiveness. Project roles and responsibilities were clearly defined and allocated in the very beginning. Each roles have back-up members so that we can ensure the project runs smoothly.

Volunteer Mindset in Project Management
Usually, official CSR teams manage project activities as part of their professional responsibilities in corporations. Our members has teamed up to wholeheartedly work in this project besides their professional obligations. This way of working brought several advantages to the project. Our team is driven by a common purpose and all members are willing to embrace their new unpaid roles.

Besides their project management activities, all our project team members also participated in Science Sessions. By doing so, we managed to understand what other volunteers experience and how we can improve their experiences.

Communication Strategy
One of our biggest strengths in this project is to encourage all to feel belong to this project. We employed an inclusive and transparent communication strategy inside the team and organization from the very beginning of the project.

Our team owns an email account which can be accessed by all members. This account is used as the main communication tool with volunteers and other business units such as Corporate Communications department. While there is an allocation of roles, we are all able to read and send emails with this account. Our team use a WhatsApp group to stay in contact throughout the day. This group is used for instantly updating each other and a fun way of working as a team.

After each science session visits, the project management team connects with the volunteers to receive their feedback and suggestions for the future implementation. Similarly, our project team share important milestones, recent achievements and new plans with all YKB volunteers periodically. Being involved in this powerful experience, Yapı Kredi Bank employees are inspired to volunteer and they are motivated to support educating the community.

The fact that  the team managing this project consist of also other volunteers within the organization, helped us to establish a genuine and non-hierarchical relationship with volunteers. YKB volunteers participating in science sessions cooperated with the project management team and openly shared their feedbacks for project improvement.

Sustainability mindset
Besides the main responsibilities of the project management team, the idea of having a consistent group of people with back-ups is an innovative step in our organisation. This kind of system enables the project run smoothly and continuously. In retrospect, there have been lots of social responsibility projects in our organisation, but they ended up just after the responsible person has resigned, or left his/her role for any reason. Therefore, sustainability mindset assists the team to have a memory of past projects, and encourages to have new and stronger ideas for future CSR projects, since the lessons are learnt.

Sustainability mindset is also valid for the future CSR projects for the team. Under this framework, we have decided to expand our target group to children in village schools as part of Science Migration to Anatolia project in 2019.

Science Migration to Anatolia Project is a source of inspiration not only for YKB Volunteers but it also touched several parties including our customers, employees of group companies, students and so forth. We have received a great number of support and thank you phone calls and emails. Besides appreciation of our efforts, the main theme in these reach outs was how they are inspired and motivated to volunteer.

Learning to achieve together is fun: As a team, in each step of this project we are learning how to achieve together. Every meeting is a source of enjoyment where we learn new skills but we also have fun.

We are motivated by our passion: In business life people have to be motivated to get the job done. For this voluntary project, all team members work enthusiastically under a common and meaningful purpose. This inspires our work environment, too.

We trust and believe each other: We are people who have no other intentions but to make the world a better place. In this sense, we are a project team without titles, and we have no career goals while working on this project. This creates the trustful environment that we need.

Our colleagues might implement a similar strategy to achieve a powerful CSR project management experience. Even if there are teams professionally responsible for project management activities, we suggest our peers to make sure that there are voluntary employees who support this team with their ideas and feedbacks.  This way teams can learn and experience the joy of achieving together for a better world.