US-Pakistan Women’s Council Executive Director Sarah Peck will be briefing female entrepreneurs on potential business opportunities at a symposium at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), according to US Embassy Economic Officer Matan Meyer after a meeting with ICCI President Zafar Bakhtawari.
Key organisations including the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority, US Government, United Nations and the World Bank have been invited to the seminar to discuss ways in which a strategy can be formulated to support female entrepreneurs engaged in micro businesses, with a focus on the fashion sector.
The existing programs did not adequately address female entrepreneurs’ needs, while many of them were aimed at start-ups that generally attract aspiring male entrepreneurs, said Meyer.
He emphasised that such initiatives would motivate emerging female entrepreneurs to investigate their strengths and weaknesses and could help them develop effective business models and expand global networks.
Meyer said that many businesses lacked the training, talent, and expertise needed to design competitive products for the fashion industry due to which they were unable to manufacture high-quality goods to meet markets’ demands.
Bakhtawari said female entrepreneurship was an important untapped source of economic growth, citing that women could contribute significantly to the country’s economic development if given more opportunities.
He added that women constituted around 52 percent of the total population but represented only a minority of all entrepreneurs. Despite the government’s efforts to reduce gender inequalities, nothing had been done to improve women’s socio-economic status, he said.
Bakhtawari was of the view that entrepreneurship is now considered an important tool for empowerment and emancipation.
He said that female entrepreneurs have been facing problems because due to a lack of finances, mobility restrictions, limited decision-making, family pressures and discrimination.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2013.