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Sunday July 21, 2024

Business leaders call for women-oriented entrepreneurship policy

By Our Correspondent
March 22, 2023

LAHORE: Women entrepreneurs of Pakistan have unanimously called for a separate entrepreneurship policy for women in the country. The demand came up at an online consultative session arranged by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) with women entrepreneurs of Pakistan.

The session was attended by the women entrepreneurs from Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Hazara, DG Khan, Layyah, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, DI Khan, Multan, Chitral, Sargodha and Bahawalpur. Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry Peshawar President Azra Jamshed, Women Chamber Korangi President Mansoora Shams, and Women Chamber Quetta President Sharmin were present at the session. Masooma Sibtain of Women Chamber Hazara, Farah Bashir of Chitral Chamber, Hafsa Moeen of Women Chamber Islamabad and Dr Shehla Javed Akram, founder of

the Women Chamber Lahore participated too.

Dr Amna Khalifa, a renowned international fiscal specialist addressed the session as a keynote speaker.

General Manager Policy Planning, Nadia Jehangir Seth, Deputy General Manager Tania Buttar, and, Manager Maryam Anas hosted the session.

Entrepreneurs complained that women had no special incentives in taxes to let their business grow. Women’s businesses have to bear a burden of over 45 percent taxes in total including the huge GST, income tax and withholding tax at par with men’s enterprises.

On the other hand, regarding access to finance, women entrepreneurs are, rather discouraged. Similarly, with regard to marketing at national and international level very little support is available for women.

The entrepreneurs unanimously demanded that for women there should be a different tax slab in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Women’s business Start-ups should be provided with a tax holiday of up to 5 years coupled with a tax credit mechanism to ensure sustainability of the businesses.

Women enterprises graduating from small to medium level should be offered concessional plots in the industrial zones to set up factories in their business lines. To fill in the gap in export marketing, arts and crafts made by women should be given an access to international markets along with necessary training and visits to the international trade fairs held abroad.

There was a consensus that the goal of women empowerment in Pakistan cannot be achieved without a separate package of incentives and facilities in taxes, regulations and credits.

They all demanded an exclusive entrepreneurship strategy and urged SMEDA to make a strong move towards this direction.

However, they appreciated SMEDA for arranging a country-wide process of consultation with women entrepreneurs.

Seth informed that SMEDA had already initiated a process to lay down a special strategy for promotion of women entrepreneurship. She assured that the suggestions that came up in the consultation session would be submitted to the concerned ministries for inclusion in the coming fiscal budget.