The Needs Map is a five-year-old website that aims to bring together those in need with those who can help. With the recent financial and infrastructural help of Mastercard Turkey, they are setting out on an ambitious project.

Ihtiyac Haritasi, ‘the Needs Map’ in English, is a website that aims to bring together people in need with people who can help to answer those needs. Because all requests and offers go through the administrators of the website, it is a more trustworthy process than simply giving away goods or money to random strangers on the internet. Once the person in need publishes his need online after admin approval, he can apply for supporters’ offers. 

Payment technologies leader Mastercard and the Needs Map have united to support increasing needs and to revive the local economy, support small businesses and to fulfil the needs of those who have sought help on the Needs Map website. The project covers 20 cities and has received a 1.5 million TL ($188,118) funding from Mastercard. Both parties emphasise that they plan on continuing this project in the future.

The Needs Map, now five years old, was first announced on October 7, 2015 during the UNDP (Eurasia and CIS Regional office) Social Good Summit and brings together those in need with supporters on an online platform. The social project means anything can be requested – from kibble for street animals to school materials or even volunteers for a social project. The platform does not accept requests for money and does not publish them. The main page displays a map with different cities’ needs. Because the Needs Map is online, it can reach any city, any home and any person with internet access.

Mastercard and the Needs Map’s ‘Hand to Hand Support Movement’ has set up a social marketplace where those in need can procure their needs from local small business owners. With all the groundwork complete, as of November 27, 2020 local businesses will begin a new way of doing business via the ‘Hand to Hand Support Movement’ platform.

The project will start in ten cities in its first stage, including Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Adana, Mersin, Trabzon, Elazig and Denizli. It will eventually spread to 20 cities in the next stage, with the aim of eventually reaching all 81 cities of Turkey. The project plans to supply local needs from local establishments and to support the local economy while helping local small business owners to digitise and e-trade to flourish.

Mastercard Turkey General Manager Yigit Caglayan says Mastercard’s priority is to keep all establishments operating regardless of scale or sector; to keep their activities going without interruption. 

“As a company, we have always been working on having the digital economy work for everyone everywhere. The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, established in 2018, in its Covid-19 support programme, has set aside a sum of 1.5 million TL, to support individuals in need and local establishments, for a social cooperative for the first time in Turkey.”

Caglayan says that the project foresees individuals adversely affected from Covid-19 receive food, hygiene products and other basic needs via the ‘Hand to Hand Movement’ member local establishments.

“We have completed the infrastructure work on local small business owners to go digital and for e-trade to flourish. There are about 7,000 food and hygiene packages and 20 cities involved in this project,” adding that, “We plan to create a sustainable economy by covering for the needs of economically fragile individuals with stakeholders in the local economy.”

Saying he is happy that the Mastercard funds geared towards social responsibility are helping those in need while supporting the actors of the local economy, the Needs Map co-founder Mert Firat comments “As the Needs Map, we have acted with the aim of transferring the funds to the right sources, fast and efficiently, while aiming to help local establishments in their comeback. Mastercard and the Needs Map has created a system where individuals in need could source their needs from local vendors and we have made analyses from every city to reach accurate data.”

Nermin Ozturk and her husband Iskender are the owners of Kosem Gida in Kucukesat, Ankara. “With the referral of Cankaya Municipality, the Needs Map people contacted us. Then they came to visit us. They told us about the project in which they would buy food and hygiene products from local businesses and hand over to those in need,” they say.

“We had struggled, as well as many people we knew. So when we heard about such a project we were happy and we wanted to be part of it,” they added. “During the visit of the Needs Map crew, we shared all the necessary documents, took photographs, filled out the registration form together and learned how to use the system.”

Source: TRT World