Vehbi Koç born in 1901 in Ankara, studied in Ankara Preparatory School. He stepped into the world of business in 1917, at the age of 16. While engaging in activities of trade, he acquired the franchise of international companies such as Ford and Standard Oil. Vehbi Koç, who also undertook some contracting jobs, took the first step towards incorporation and founded Koç Ticaret A.Ş. in Istanbul in 1938.
In 1948, he played a leading role in the establishment of General Electric’s light bulb factory in Turkey, and this factory, of which he was a co-investor, commenced production in 1952.
During the 1950s, he worked for the domestic production of many products such as automobiles, domestic goods, radiators, electronic devices, textiles, matches, and many other similar products. Türk Traktör, the first company in the Turkish automotive industry, started its operations in 1954. In the same year, Türk Demir Döküm Factory was established. This was followed by Arçelik established in 1955 still the largest private industrial company in Turkey, and Aygaz established in 1961 along with many more industrial organizations.
In order to manage the increasing number of industrial companies from one location and create the best resources, Vehbi Koç, a believer in institutionalization, founded Turkey’s first holding in 1963: Koç Holding.
New companies and initiatives followed the establishment of Koç Holding marking many firsts in Turkey from the automotive industry to Tat Tomato Paste Factory, a leading force for the agriculture potential of Turkey.
As the operations of Koç Holding were being carried out by professional managers, Vehbi Koç focused on social initiatives and foundation services. Inspired by a trip abroad in 1967, he led efforts in the establishment of the Turkish Education Foundation in order to direct the donations of wreath to education. In 1969, he established the Vehbi Koç Foundation to engage in the fields of education, healthcare, and culture. The foundation realized many cultural, educational, and healthcare-related projects. In 1980, Sadberk Hanım Museum, the first private museum of Turkey, was opened in commemoration of his late wife, Ms. Sadberk. In 1987 Koç School, a foreign language teaching institution, and in 1993 Koç University were opened.
Stepping down from his duties in 1984, Vehbi Koç focused more on social activities until his death in 1996. The late Vehbi Koç was not only one of Turkey’s most successful businessmen but also a true philanthropist who believed that everyone had a personal responsibility to contribute towards the solution of social problems. He felt genuine concern for the poor and extended them a helping hand, right from the beginning of his working life. His philanthropy grew with the years, and he began to donate greater and greater funds towards the construction of social facilities.
Suna Kıraç was born in 1941, in Ankara. After graduating from Arnavutköy American Girls’ College, she studied Banking and Financing at Boğaziçi University.
She started her business life as the assistant of the founder of Koç Holding, Vehbi Koç and in the following years assumed roles such as Vice President of Employee and Vice Presidency and also Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. At the same time, she led the establishment of Koç University, The Koç School and Education Volunteers Foundation of Turkey (TEGV).
Due to presenting a significant contribution to Turkey’s industry, education, culture and arts, Suna Kıraç was awarded with “Outstanding Service Award” by the President of Republic, Süleyman Demirel on October 27, 1997.
In the following years, she was awarded with the titles of “Honorary Membership” by London Business School, then “The Woman of the Year” by the Antalya Branch of the Turkish University Women Association, and the Volunteers of the Millennium Outstanding Service Award by the Volunteer Organizations National Women’s Health Commission, KASACOM.
Her book titled “Ömrümden Uzun İdeallerim Var”, which was published in 2006 became one of the best-selling books of the year and the entire income was donated to TEGV.
Suna Kıraç, who held the positions of Member of Vehbi Koç Foundation Administrative Board; Chair of Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation; Member of the Board of Trustees of Koç University, Turkish Education Foundation, Turkish Family Health, and Planning Foundation and Robert College; Founding Member and Chair of Education Volunteers Foundation of Turkey passed away on September 15, 2020.
Suna Kıraç was an impressive figure and an inspiring role model for Turkish women throughout her life as a visionary leader.