Giving women entrepreneurs a chance

“I was running a boutique at home but it was a failure. I faced loss in business because women buyers from my neighbourhood did not pay me in time,” says Shagufta Bashir.

But now she is successfully running a boutique in one of the rented shops of the Women Business Development Centre, set up in a separate building at Social Welfare Directorate on University Road.

She is confident that she will able to run her own boutique once she leaves this rented shop as she has learnt sales and marketing techniques here.

She is of the opinion that it is difficult for women to start a business. “Generating finances for starting up a business is the main hurdle even if a woman has skill,” she says. She suggests that loan process should be made simpler for women as they lack knowledge of financial matters.

Sharing her experience of running a boutique at home, Shagufta says that women from her neighbourhood would come and buy clothes but they would not pay in time and she would face losses in business.

“There (at home) business is never taken seriously,” she claims, adding that a woman can`t start a business without the financial support of her family.

Many women have the skill but few of them get successful to run a business on a large scale from home.

“They are provided training and counselling besides linking them with bigger businesses when they get a rented shop here,” says Nabeela Farman, project manager of Women Business Development Centre. The centre is set up by Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority with the funding of federal ministry of industries.

“We give them an environment where they learn to run a business,” she adds. The women who run businesses at home lack exposure and have no linkages with big companies.

“We help them develop links and sharpen their business skill even if they are not educated. The latest facilities like fax, printer, telephone and computers are also provided at this centre,” Ms Farman says.

A number of shops of hand-made bags, beauty products, decoration pieces, traditional clothes, maternity and baby products, frozen food and boutiques have been established in the centre, since it started working in July this year.

“So far, a woman making frozen food products is our success story. She is now linked to all major grocery stores and providing frozen food to them,” Ms Farman says.

She adds that her business has been established successfully within three months.

The Women Business Development Centre is proposed to provide marketing skills and business environment to women. These women have been taken to exhibitions in Karachi and Lahore.

It boosts their work as well as their confidence.

A businesswoman is given a small shop within the centre for six months up to two years. She can leave when her business takes off. – Dawn News