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May 20, 2014

Increase in number of businesswomen sought

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May 20, 2014

LAHORE: Several renowned female entrepreneurs and industry pioneers called for an increase in the number of businesswomen and female-run business ventures at a seminar organized in collaboration with the Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Memorial Society (Jang Group) and Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries (WCCI) here at a local hotel on Monday.
The seminar, also sponsored by Wateen Telecom and Interwood Limited, served as the official launching ceremony of WCCI’s campaign ‘50,000 Women in Business by 2020’. According to WCCI reports, women constitute half of Pakistan’s population yet many are disengaged from mainstream society. WCCI in its new campaign aims at bringing prosperity to Pakistani women by helping 50,000 females start and run their own businesses by the year 2020.
Addressing the gathering, MKRMS chairman and senior journalist Wasif Nagi said the seminar is the 600th seminar organized by MKRMS to address social issues in Pakistan. Nagi said MKRMS is committed to supporting WCCI in reaching its objective of economically empowering women.
Co-hosting the seminar, TV personality Ayesha Sana commended former founding president WCCI Dr. Shehla Javed Akram for her leadership of the chamber and struggle for Pakistan’s businesswomen.
Sana said Dr. Shehla Javed Akram had encouraged women to venture into male-dominated industries and had shown through her own personal experience that nothing is impossible.
Before inviting Dr. Shehla Javed Akram onstage, WCCI incumbent president Qaisera Sheikh said WCCI aims to empower 50,000 aspiring female entrepreneurs over a period of six years to launch their own businesses. She said WCCI will aid these women in terms of training and skill development to participate in Pakistan’s economy.
Dr. Shehla Javed Akram in her speech narrated her struggle for establishing WCCI and providing one-to-one basis training and services for women. She said WCCI aims to instil confidence and lessen hesitations

of female entrepreneurs to apply for bank loans and invest in risky businesses in the country. She said the struggle started in 2003 and culminated in 2008 when the National Assembly of Pakistan approved a bill seeking the establishment of WCCI. She said WCCI Lahore members are frequently invited to SAARC countries, including Bangladesh and India, where separate women chambers of commerce do not exist. The former WCCI president said she felt a growing need in Pakistan to make women’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) visible and be duly recognized by the government of Pakistan.
She identified fields that need to be penetrated by Pakistani female entrepreneurs, including textile, online services, e-commerce, support services outsourcing, health and fitness, education, agriculture and diary products, electronics, energy, food, and hospitality.
Former secretary of Women Development Punjab Qazi Afaq Hussain praised entrepreneurial women, including former Women Development Provincial Minister Shaheen Atiq-ur-Rehman, for their contributions to women rights in Pakistan.
Hussain said the time is ripe for women to seize their rights and demand gender equality. He said men in Pakistan are ready to support women in their struggle.
Amateur Gardens CEO Noshin Sarfaraz said her hobby for gardening had grown into a full-fledged business in horticulture. She said she had directed and produced 500 programs for PTV on good gardening practices. She voluntarily advises Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif’s Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) and is involved in planting new shrubbery and flowers on the Mall, she said. Women gardening in their own homes have the opportunity of making this a profitable business, she added.
Representing Hybrid Electronics, director Eliya Mohsin said her company employs all-female staff and women are capable of working in assembly line production and supervising other workers. Mohsin said women in the World War II started working in factories in Britain due to their men serving as soldiers. She said women are responsible for the glory of the Industrial Revolution and insisted on working in factories even after their men returned from the battlefields.
Speaking on behalf of Educational Assessment System and Training (EAST), Fahim Naqvi said 60 million children in Pakistan are deprived of primary education, one out of 10 primary school students dropping out worldwide are from Pakistan, and only 10 percent of Pakistan’s children have access to quality primary education. Naqvi said EAST provides free training and consultancy to 3000 schools in the country and many of its trainee teachers are women.
TTS Global director Komal Khan told the females present that online outsourcing is a growing profitable business worldwide despite being male-dominated. Khan said interested women should approach Pakistan’s SMEDA, Arfa Technology Park, and Seed Ventures for support in starting their business.
Solaris chief marketing office Faayeza Kamal said Pakistan’s renewable energy industry has great profit returns on investment. She said Solaris has supplied Pakistan’s Armed Forces with electronic-medical equipment for the past 35 years. She said Pakistan’s growing electricity crisis demands greater investment in clean renewable energy, including wind and solar power. She said Balochistan’s and Sindh’s coasts are perfect sites for the installation of wind turbines.
Yoga trainer Tahira Babar said health and fitness is not just limited to setting up gyms and also includes programs aimed at the mental well-being of persons. She said women can teach yoga as a secondary business and help in relieving the stress of Pakistan’s overworked workforce.
Multi-brand stores Labels CEO Anum Javed Akram said ready-wear-retail is fast becoming a lucrative business in Pakistan with many women opting for buying clothes off the rack instead of visiting tailors. She informed participants in a range of strategies they can adopt to launch their multi-designer outlets. She said many of Pakistan’s renowned designers, including Zara Shahjehan and Elan, now carry affordable ready-to-wear lines.
College of Tourism and Hotel Management (COTHM) CEO Ahmed Shafiq said women are perfect for Pakistan’s hospitality industry due to their kind and compassionate nature. He said women have performed better than men in catering to the needs of hotel guests and restaurant customers. His colleague Saima Irfan meanwhile presented a power point presentation on the catering industry.
Professor at LUMS Dr. Tanveer Shehzad said Pakistan’s dairy industry has many opportunities for women. He said Pakistan is the third largest producer in the world of diary products but does not rank in the top 20 exporters list because of bad management. He said women diary workers work 15 hours a day but are denied their share of profit. Shahzad said better breed selection, scientific feed management, controlled shed management, marketing and branding of diary products, and a move towards higher value chain products could improve diary industry’s performance in Pakistan and worldwide.
Businesswoman and PTI representative Andaleeb Abbas said female entrepreneurs should identify gaps in the consumer market and supply to these niche demands. She said hard work combined with strategic planning and innovation could render profit for female entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
Senior Vice President WCCI, Shazia Salman Aslam said women should register with the Chamber to get access to professional advice and a network of established businesswomen.
Chief guest on Monday’s seminar, CEO Wateen Telecom Naeem Zamindar, said he was impressed by the women present. The corporate world is being revolutionized with increasing presence of women, he added.
He said his encounter with a small businesswoman inspired him, who runs a business worth eight million rupees year, making customized bangles and employing 150 females. He praised WCCI for its spirit and initiative to empower women. Guests were presented shields at the conclusion of the seminar by Dr. Akram and fellow WCCI representatives.

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