Bedriye Hulya

B-fit Sport and Health Living Centers for Women
Year founded: 

B-fit operates a franchise of exercise centers for women, creating a platform to empower women through exercise, education, and entrepreneurship.

Focus: Women, Entrepreneurship, Health
Geographic Area of Impact: Turkey
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 250 women entrepreneurs, 150,000 members (2012)
Annual Budget: US$ 2.6 million (2012)
Percent Earned Revenue: 100%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013

Turkey is a highly patriarchal society where many women need permission from husbands or fathers in order to participate in activities outside of their home. This aspect of Turkish culture greatly limits social and cultural opportunities available to women. Though exercise can be a great outlet for socializing, as well as for increasing confidence and self-awareness, 80% Turkey’s gyms and exercise clubs are exclusively for men to play billiard, soccer, or lift weights. The remaining 20% of gyms are co-ed, but very expensive and not accessible for middle and low-income women. For some upper-income women, even though the gyms are not cost prohibitive it is culturally inappropriate to exercise with men.

Innovation and Activities
b-fit is a national chain of women-only gyms, utilizing a franchising model that empowers Turkish women. One of the basic principles of b-fit is that exercise is not a luxury but a human right; however it is not the only component. b-fit creates spaces open to women only where they can develop self-awareness and a wide range of skills.

It is a platform where women can use their power to create a better world for themselves and for their community: exercise, work and own a business in order to be more aware of their self and reduce the inequality gap between men and women. b-fit organizes social events like seminars, courses and many other activities that bring women together and also help them to be aware of their own identity. b-fit has set up a flexible franchise system where each b-fit can institute as well their own programs, classes and activities.

Since 2006, Bedriye Hulya has grown the business to over 216 gyms in over 46 locations around Turkey all run by women, enabling more than 150,000 women across a variety of socio-economic backgrounds to do sports and hundreds to start working – many of them for the first time in their lives.

The Entrepreneur
Bedriye Hulya is the founder of B-fit. Bedriye studied international relations at the University of Istanbul and later went on to pursue degrees in psychology in the United States. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Columbia University and an M.A. in psychology from Hunter College.