With an extra mouth to feed every few years and the Rs7,000 earned by her husband, falling short, Azra knew she had to take things in her own hands.
Initially, she started small – selling biscuits and toffees outside her house in New Pind, Sukkur. But that too was not enough.
Azra said she belonged to a poor family and was unable to continue studies beyond matriculation and feared her children would face the same fate. However, through the National Rural Support Programme her children are provided a free education. Add to that, the programme also support mothers of students by training them to work and make a living.
Under the NRSP, Azra received training in business management, after which she managed to get an interest-free loan from the Sindh Rural Support Organisation.
With the money and training, she opened a grocery shop in one of the rooms of her house and became a businesswoman.
“I established this shop two years ago and am getting a very good response from people in the area,” she said, adding that her customers are mostly women and girls as they feel at ease with her.
Azra went on to expand the business and added almost all daily use commodities to her shop. Her little shop was such a success that her husband, Abdul Majeed, quit his job at factory to help out.
“Giving up is not in my dictionary. I face challenges with courage,” Azra said.
She recalled how her husband told her of his confidence in her and quit his job without any argument.
“I am happy that I have pulled my family out of extreme poverty, but there is still a long way to go,” she said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, NRSP project officer Erum Naseer said that this programme is funded by the European Union; the International Labour Organisation provides technical assistance and the NRSP implements it.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2013.