Koc, A story of Philanthropy in Modern Turkey

In early 1900s, Vehbi Koç began a path to success by opening a grocery store, an ambitious goal  for a 16-year-old. Over a hundred and ten years later, the Vehbi Koç Foundation and the Koç family continue to be an inspiration for those seeking to create centers of philanthropic excellence. He worked to create modern philanthropy in Turkey – the Vehbi Koç Foundation was indeed the first private foundation.

Vehbi Koç continues to inspire and lead by example, even as his business and philanthropic efforts reached the success they enjoy today. He encouraged others to establish foundations in Turkey. His dedication resulted in change in laws  allowing individuals to start their own museums; the Koç family indeed set up the country’s first, The Sadberk Hanim Museum. The Vehbi Koç Foundation also leading Turkish family in the reform initiatives on Turkey’s education, benefiting both families’ educational efforts and the students they reach. They led by the excellence of their own institutions, instilling an ever-growing list of best practices throughout their philanthropic endeavours.

Vehbi Koç and his family inspire by their committement as well. In addition to the initial donation of shares in The Koç Group, the family makes an annual cash donation that reachs into the tens of millions dollars. The participation of Vehbi Koç’s children in his Foundation has been extensive. Even now, three generations later, Koç family members hold key positions of governance in the Foundation.

The action of the Vehbi Koç Foundation has an exceptional impact. In addition to Turkey’s first private museum, the Foundation founded a World-class non-profit university, a leading high school, and numerous elementary schools. It has provided 190.000 educational scholarships. It is the largest non-profit healthcare operation in Turkey. There are thousands of people whose lives have changed thanks to the Foundation.

Vehbi Koç sought to contribute to the country that gave him so much. What resulted in Turkey, and indeed the World, was something more important: an example of how commitement can motivate others to give back. Vehbi Koç’s selfless dedication to well-being of his compatriots continues to inspire the World well beyond Turkey.

Suzanne Berger

Raphael Dorman-Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chair of the Jury

BNP Paribas Prize for Individual Philanthropy

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