It Takes a Village
Giving Story of Ahmet Bozer
“I believe the universe has a way of lining up the right people for you to meet at the right time for the things you should be doing,” says Ahmet Bozer about his journey with philanthropy. He met Haldun Tashman and, consequently, TPF just at the right time. While he has always focused on philanthropy, after he retired from his role as Executive Vice President and President of Coca-Cola International, Ahmet intensified his focus. His giving philosophy has always brought the right ecosystems, people, and organizations together to make a difference. He is passionate about issues both in Turkey and in the U.S. “Both Turkey and the U.S. helped shape me personally and professionally. Therefore, when I think about giving back, I think about the needs of the people in both,” he says. He believes his involvement in TPF strengthened his hand to transform the lives of others both in Turkey and in the US while transforming his own life simultaneously.
Since Ahmet Bozer opened a donor-advised fund at TPF in 2014 to do all his personal philanthropy both in Turkey and in the U.S., he has noticed a change in how he gives. “Working with TPF, I learned that there is a huge value to being a part of a philanthropic community,” Ahmet says. Besides looking for impactful programs to support individually, he has learned that he can leverage the giving of others with his gifts. In addition, TPF’s years of experience and connections on the ground gave him the assurance needed as a donor from the U.S. At the time of establishing his donor-advised fund at TPF, he did not feel he was as closely connected with the NGO community in Turkey as he would have liked. Yet, he has always had the drive to give to NGOs because he believes supporting the right NGOs creates more impact than helping individuals directly and has ripple effects beyond one’s imagination. TPF allowed him to better understand the NGO landscape in Turkey, and with that understanding, he was able to direct his contributions accordingly. He was pleased with what he learned was happening within these organizations. “Never lose hope in Turkey because there are incredible young men and women who work in great organizations tirelessly to make a difference,” he notes excitedly.
Now, Ahmet approaches his every contribution with a question of “how can I leverage my connections and resources to give more to this cause.” When he first met KODA (Köy Okulları Değişim Ağı), which was established in 2016 by a community of teachers and volunteers with the hope of improving the quality of education in rural areas of Turkey, he started asking this same question to himself. In rural schools, resources are scarce. Social and cultural norms constrain education. And, most of the time, teachers lack the local and professional support they need. KODA works to change the resources provided for teachers in these areas. Rural areas and schools were already struggling for the resources and technology needed for education but started facing more significant challenges when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Ahmet Bozer believes that contributing to organizations that make a difference in the early years of an individual’s life can have a more significant impact. These children live in deprivation of quality education because of where they live – seeing that, Ahmet wanted to support KODA. He started to think of who he could bring together to leverage his giving to KODA.
A conversation with TPF staff led to the launch of the “Support Rural Teachers” campaign. He generously offered a $25K matching gift. The campaign launched in December 2020 and within that month met and passed its goal of $50K. Funds raised went toward supporting 270 rural teachers from nine regions of Turkey (Harran, Suruç, and Siverek in Şanlıurfa, Siirt, Pervari, Malatya, Muş, Mardin, and Orhaneli in Bursa), and more than 20,000 village children.
Ahmet believes that the power of giving can strengthen when it is a part of a philanthropic community such as TPF. His advice to those longing to give: “In reality, giving satisfies a higher need each one of us has. If we can recognize that need, then all we have to do is to make giving a part of how we live” He then continues, “Make philanthropy or supporting others a part of your life, because a part of your life is missing until you are doing it. You’re incomplete without it. The best thing you can do is make giving back a part of your life.”