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Job title: Owner
Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Rawsome was established in 2015 to produce all natural fruit and nut bars. It is owned and operated by Semra İnce Şengöz and is based in Istanbul, Turkey. For Rawsome, the differentiating factor is their “free from” products- their fruit and nut bars are raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and all natural. This has given them the advantage of being the first mover for this type of product. 

The company decided to become a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) through WEConnect International for two reasons: to use the network to increase sales and visibility, and to connect with and learn from other entrepreneurs.

The annual WEConnect International in Turkey conference in October 2017 gave Semra of Rawsome a unique opportunity to participate in a pitch competition, receiving feedback from an international panel of judges. Semra impressed the judges enough to win the pitch competition, receiving the opportunity to have two mentors- one the General Manager of JW Marriott Ankara and the other the founder of TRAngels, an angel investment institution in Turkey. The mentorship will continue for the next year, with at least four meetings taking place between them over the next 12 months. The mentorship opportunity has given Rawsome the chance to work directly with two professionals who have provided support, opportunities and invitations, including a presentation at TRAngels specifically for startups.

Between the one-on-one meetings at the conference and Semra’s  performance during the pitch competition, Rawsome impressed representatives from Marriott International so much that they purchased  the company’s fruit and nut bars and they are now available in the JW Mariott in Ankara. The company’s products are also available at the St. Regis, İstanbul.  

Both the WEConnect International in Turkey event and Semra received rave reviews from two Marriott general managers. Alper Can Bulcum, from the St. Regis in Istanbul, said it was “very beneficial for the business women to meet with connections to build trade relations. We met some suppliers and already placed orders.” Albert Helms, general manager of the Marriott JW Ankara and one of Semra’s mentors for the year, said “[The] Turkish WEConnect International team helped Marriott International Hotels in Turkey to reach out to many different women-owned businesses here. The various hotels are working with many companies already, but we wish to single out Rawsome as one with which we concluded an agreement in October 2017.” Mr. Helms also added, “I was privileged to become [Semra’s] mentor for a year.”

WBE Certification through WEConnect International and the connections that followed from attending the conference have driven growth for new sales channels and new contacts. Semra also thinks that these connections and networks will help the company begin selling its products in other countries more quickly. While moving so quickly with purchasing is unusual, Rawsome’s story shows how becoming a certified WBE and attending local events can help you make the right connections to grow your business!

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