Social Impact: In conversation with Ahu Serter
Founder of ARYA Women’s Investment Platform (Headquartered in Turkey)
“I felt it was important to get involved because I don’t see a lot of female-led entrepreneurship around me… I wanted to inspire that change.”
Asked to explain the factors behind her success, Ahu Serter simply says: “Let’s just say I have surfed some macroeconomic waves.” A serial entrepreneur based in Turkey, Boca Raton and Portugal, she comments that throughout her career she has never shied away from making life-changing decisions to re-locate in order to pursue economic opportunities.
In 2002, she left her position as a Hedge Fund Manager in New York to join the family business, Farplas Group, as Chief Financial Officer. When she joined, Ms Serter was determined to introduce a new vision for growth centred on “doing the things that other
companies were not doing, and also being open to alliances.”
Within a decade, Farplas Group was positioned as a leading company in Turkey within the automotive, tourism and domestic appliance sectors. It is now a Fortune 500 company. “We grew from one to two, to ten companies – and in time, our revenue matched this success,
growing from EUR8 million to EUR250 million.”
“For me, every failure offers an opportunity to accomplish something more, just as much as success does. In 2006, I was put on a mandatory leave of absence for two years from the mother company due to some strategic disagreements with our family board.
In those two years, I created the famous art hotel brand Casa dell’Arte, which is now open in Bodrum and Lisbon, and I was re-invited to head the company after things cooled off.”
In addition, she is now an active leader and international speaker on innovation, transportation,
mobility solutions and women-led entrepreneurship. “A confused individual, that’s [what] people call me, because I do so many different things!” Ms Serter laughs. She highlights that her main motivation as a serial entrepreneur is an aversion to feeling too comfortable: “I don’t like comfort.
I think comfort is detrimental to being good in business.” With this in mind, when she turned
40, Ms Serter began to think about how she could use her professional success to make a wider impact.
“I evaluated my own performance and thought – what [am I] going to do next?” Her passion, she realised, was to make a difference to women’s lives. She was determined to do this in a business rather than purely charitable context in line with her personal philosophy that “women are not people that need to be helped; [they] just need to be supported better.”
“I thought to myself – what do I truly thrive at, which I can share and teach other women about? And the answer was – making money and growing successful companies!”
Soon after, she set up the ARYA Women’s Investment Platform, named after her youngest daughter who is also named Arya. “Arya’s birth inspired me to leave a bigger legacy behind, one that will make my three daughters proud and stand tall in life.”
The platform enables investment into businesses owned by women and helps the founders accelerate their professional growth and become confident investors.
Ms Serter continued: “I felt it was important to get involved because I don’t see a lot of female-led entrepreneurship around me. There are a lot of successful businesswomen,
but rarely do they invest their power and time into the empowerment of other women who are up-andcoming."
"I wanted to inspire that change, and give these women business owners, who already have
drive and motivation, that little extra push they need to succeed.”
For Ms Serter, part of her entrepreneurial legacy is sharing her personal values and helping to build the confidence of the next generation. “As I have more means, I feel I need to increase the impact I have on those around me through the success of my business.
It starts with things closer to home – what can I leave my daughters? What values can I teach them? But then, I also feel I owe something more to wider society and the world around me.”
The above article is an excerpt from BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report 2018.
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Picture Source: www.aryawomen.com