Interview with Ms. Tara Uzra Dawood — a Canadian-Pakistani entrepreneur
Ms. Tara Uzra Dawood is a Canadian-Pakistani entrepreneur, money manager and freelance journalist. At the age of 14, Tara was selected as Canada’s Youth News Representative, which is the youth wing of the Associated Press. With her entrepreneurial savvy as a young journalist, Tara established a network of links with cosmetic labels, record labels and movie studios in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Tara went on to study at Cornell University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School, where she won numerous awards, scholarships and fellowships, and became a member of the New York Bar. In 2002, Tara relocated to Pakistan to revamp a venture capital company named Pakistan Venture Capital Ltd and eventually started her own asset management company, Dawood Capital Management Ltd, now 786 Investments Ltd. She established Dawood Capital Management with Asian Development Bank (DCM) in 2003. DCM has always been a trailblazer and was the first listed asset management company in the country. Even though she is extremely successful in the business world, her heart and passion lie with building charitable programs dedicated to educating young girls and promoting the advancement of women in business. In 2008, in direct response to the assassination of Pakistan’s first female prime minister Benazir Bhutoo, Tara launched LADIESFUND®, a non profit fund that trains and promotes female entrepreneurs with the aim of placing more women into the workforce and facilitating business deals between women entrepreneurs. LADIESFUND began as a pro bono investment advisory wing of DCM, working exclusively with women clients and entrepreneurs to help women in need of financial guidance. As it has evolved, LADIESFUND® also had CSR activities like the LADIESFUND® Women’s Awards for Pakistan, which launched in 2008. Since then, it has gained momentum and created a community unto itself and is a platform of Dawood Global Foundation and organizes entrepreneurial conferences (LADIESFUND® Entrepreneurship Conferences), professional women’s networking lunches (LADIESFUND® Women of Influence Luncheons), seminars and provide bachelors scholarships as well as International Fellowships to female students. Today, LADIESFUND® has trained more than 12,000 women and has over 140 local and international partners aligned with helping women achieve financial security. In 2013, LADIESFUND® launched ‘Educate A Girl’, an initiative with the mission to educate 1,000 girls in 5 continents between the ages of 18 to 24 to become journalists in order to give women a bigger voice in media. But this incredible program has since evolved into a much bigger movement and now is a partnership between Dawood Global Foundation and Facebook’s internet.org to educate one million girls globally and was just recognized by the World Bank as top 2% women-led initiative in MENA. ‘Educate A Girl’ has successfully educated 1,000 deserving girls in Karachi and 1,250 in Lagos, Nigeria, including those orphaned by the atrocities of the Boko Haram. Tara is a recognized world speaker on issues regarding women’s investment and responsible investments including both Shariah-compliant and conventional mutual funds. She has been a keynote speaker on these topics at numerous conferences around the world. She is committed to financial inclusion of women and children as well as helping girls realize their dreams. A Shariah finance expert, she is also working on bringing Robo financial advisors to Pakistan.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON THE ROLE OF WOMEN FOR THE PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY OF PAKISTAN:
TARA UZRA DAWOOD: Women are of great economic importance to Pakistan’s prosperity and economic growth is critically dependent and connected to engaging and involving our untapped half of the population.
PAGE: HOW MANY FEMALE EMPLOYEES ARE WORKING (KINDLY MENTION THE DESIGNATIONS AS WELL) IN YOUR ORGANIZATION AND WHAT IS THE MALE-FEMALE RATIO?
TARA UZRA DAWOOD: Following are the details:
- Shafqat Sultana, Chairman of the Board
- Charmaine Hidayutullah, Director
- Tara Uzra Dawood, President
- Mehwish Ayyub, Supervisor
- Humaira Anwaar, Supervisor
- Naina Rani, Supervisor
- Fatima Ahmed, Coordinator
- Maica Mary, Associate
- Prinka Kumari, Intern
- Anny Komal, Intern
- Nisha Ahmed, Intern
There is 50:50 percent ratio for male-female in our organization.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE A FEMALE EMPLOYEE WITH A MALE EMPLOYEE IN TERMS OF PERFORMANCE AND LEVEL OF RESPONSIBILITY?
TARA UZRA DAWOOD: Female employees are hard-working. They bring a diversity of thought and an important perspective. Women are known for valuing relationships with others, and when this trait is brought into the workplace it can result in team building that contributes towards getting the job done.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON MISOGYNY IN THE CORPORATE SECTOR IN PAKISTAN IN PARTICULAR AND THE WORLD IN GENERAL:
TARA UZRA DAWOOD: Women are often criticized when they are successful while men are lauded. This is a global reality and more so in Pakistan. Companies need to be resourceful and very loud in their praise and encouragement of women contribution and create avenues for women’s voices to not only be heard but to be recognized.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON THE INCLUSION OF FEMALES ON THE BOARDS OF THE LISTED COMPANIES?
TARA UZRA DAWOOD: It has been proven that diversity on the board produces better productivity and profits. Smart companies should appreciate that diversifying their boards with women as well as other minorities will serve their boards better and ultimately help their bottom line.