In 2018, The Newton Fund, initiated the Research Environments Links Grants for the UK and Turkey. The aim of the grant was to support capacity building and to develop research and academic environments through international collaboration, training, knowledge exchange and the sharing of best practice. The SDG Network consequently received support for collaboration between the Durham University and Istanbul Sehir University academics involved in the Network. The support enabled collaboration with a number of organisations such as the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, Istanbul Chamber of Industry, MUSIAD and Kuveyt Turk Bank.
The aim of the collaboration is to introduce the concept and tools of measuring and reporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to businesses and organisations in order to accelerate their contribution to the SDGs. By committing to report on SDGs, organisations would be under pressure to direct strategy and resources towards them. Participation banks were chosen as the second theme due to their role in the financial inclusion of the religious sector of Turkish society, known to be of relatively lower income than the average. In addition, the majority of Participation banks business customers are small businesses (SMEs). The knowledge production from the network thus instantiates itself in the economic development and welfare of disadvantaged sectors of society by encouraging organisations to integrate the SDGs into their processes and strategies, ultimately impacting the lives of the poor and vulnerable. This is important as the global gap in financing the SDGs is currently estimated at $2.5 trillion every year, hence, to achieve the SDGs internationally, there is a need for innovative ethical finance tools which promote impact investing.