Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Melis Buyuksan (MBu:) I’m a female entrepreneur from Turkey, and I established Medlis Ramps at the age of 23 whilst at University. I aimed to create social impact and awareness about accessibility in Turkey. Medlis has now become a manufacturer and exporter, providing wheelchair accessible environments and awareness all over the world.
When I founded my own business as a student, a lot of people questioned why I chose a narrow field instead of a job where you might reach all sections of society. My belief is that ‘when you try to serve everyone, you serve no one’.
Creating better accessibility is actually an opportunity to protect human rights all over world, because if we have the chance and the ability, we should do our best to touch any life that needs help. In my opinion, my field of work is not as narrow as people believe, and creating useful products shouldn’t be a male-dominated discipline.
MB: Please introduce your business and the problems you’re trying to solve.
MBu: Medlis Ramps is the first company in Turkey which focuses on manufacturing wheelchair ramps, creating independence for people in their daily life.
There are 1 billion world citizens who are longing for one thing: a more accessible world. This is due to barriers to accessing health, education, transportation, information and work services – which many of us take for granted.
We focus on ‘economically affordable and practical wheelchair accessibility solutions’, which must be easy to use, so that we can reach more people in their daily lives – including wheelchair users in developing countries.
What differentiates us from our competitors is that we focus only on wheelchair ramp systems, providing standardisation and custom made solutions. Our target customers are not wheelchair users, but government buildings, open public areas, shops, hospitals, schools, banks, transportation companies etc. We have a B2B marketing strategy to provide more accessible points the end user.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now and what support do you need?
MBu: We reached a milestone in 2015 when we began exporting our ramps. We have learned and gained experience trying to manufacture for each market’s need.
Now we need to expand our manufacturing and exports area whilst working on innovative solutions. I feel as though growing a business is harder than starting.
MB: What is your ambition for the future of your business?
MBu: We aim to create a valuable culture, full of hope, with our colleagues and suppliers. We want to show that we are a socially responsible and ethical brand. We currently provide wheelchair accessible points at over 10,000 spaces in Turkey, alongside 22 other countries. We know each delivery will provide someone with independence and fulfilment.
We continuously evaluate our operations and value chain to identify, assess, and address salient human rights risks; engage key stakeholders; and prioritise areas where we have the greatest opportunity to have a positive impact on workers and communities.
My ambition is for Medlis Ramps to become a world leader in accessibility solutions and reach many more people all over the world. I would like to see our products become a standard and innovative solution for all those that need greater accessibility and independence in their daily life.
A Medlis ramp being used outside the Turkish Grand National Assembly
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
MBu: As I said earlier, if we have the chance and the ability, we should do our best to touch any life that needs help. That’s one of the strongest motivations to ensure you create impact through your work.
MB – Tell us a mistake you’ve learned from:
MBu – I’ve learnt not to be pessimistic and impatient. There is always an alternative way.
MB – How do you spend your time away from work?
MBu – I’m a rally driver and like being a part of motorsports. I also love travelling around the world, discovering new places and new people.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
MBu – ‘There are no hopeless situations, there are only hopeless people. I’ve never lost my hope.’ – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
MBu – The Art of Start and Selling the dream by Guy Kawasaki were the first books I read when I decided to establish my company.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
MBu – I would like to be more successful at managing my time so I could learn, read, discover and feel more.
MB – What’s one thing you want to achieve in 2022?
MBu – The best ever year! Having more opportunities to prove that we are ready to provide a more accessible world.
A Medlis ramp in the Palace of Versaille
Discover the other leaders recognised on the 2021 MB100, for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Global Goals, here.