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UNDP-backed project trains over 400 rural woman entrepreneurs

November 30, 2023

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has helped over 400 prospective young woman entrepreneurs from underprivileged and rural areas in 13 districts across Pakistan to set up social enterprises whose services and businesses support the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country.

The UNDP completed its Women's Initiatives in Social Enterprises (WISE) programme to support over 200 budding social enterprises established by 400 female entrepreneurs mainly to promote the noble causes of women’s participation in the workforce and the improvement of the national economy.

The WISE initiative has been completed in over three months. The UNDP joined hands with the private telecommunication sector and non-profit sectors to roll out the WISE programme with its beneficiaries present in the all four provinces.

In this picture, a mother holding her child in her arms can be seen on November 28, 2023. —Facebook/United Nations Development Programme - UNDP
In this picture, a mother holding her child in her arms can be seen on November 28, 2023. —Facebook/United Nations Development Programme - UNDP

Jehangir Ashraf, UNDP’s youth economic empowerment officer, said that joining hands with the private telecommunication sector was a win-win situation for a top UN agency for the technological advancement of women-led social enterprises and helped them enter the challenging domain of e-commerce.

He said the UNDP as per its charter would continue to forge more such partnerships with the private and non-profit organisations for speedy implementation of the SDGs in Pakistan especially for the benefit of women from the rural and underprivileged areas.

He said the woman entrepreneurs who graduated from the WISE programme were better trained to manage the financial, administrative and technological aspects of their small businesses.

The non-profit School of Leadership Foundation also took part in training of rural woman entrepreneurs as a partner of the WISE programme. Fahad Rehman, head of sustainability at Jazz, said the WISE programme had been launched to promote the causes of gender equality, provision of quality healthcare and education services to needy populations and reversing the damaging effects of climate change in Pakistan.

He said the WISE served the cause of gender equality by promoting and supporting women-led micro-social enterprises mainly based in villages for creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for rural women in Pakistan.

Rehman said that one of the distinguishing aspects of the WISE programme was to connect these women-led rural enterprises with a branchless banking system to provide much-needed financial sustainability to these budding small businesses.

He said the upcoming female entrepreneurs had also been given IT training to make the best use of e-commerce platforms to reach out to the customers in faraway urban areas who had the purchasing power to buy products and services of these small businesses in bulk quantities.

He mentioned that WISE programme graduates were also properly educated about possible attempts by online fraudsters who often attempted to defraud businesses attached to branchless banking systems and e-commerce platforms.

He said the rural woman entrepreneurs who were beneficiaries of the WISE programme were trained to manage their financial, banking, administrative and corporate affairs in a formal way as per the rules and laws of the land.

“Once these budding rural businesswomen pass out of the WISE programme, they will continue to get support from us for managing financial and technological affairs of their enterprises anytime in future for the sake of sustainability of their small businesses,” he said.