The women entrepreneurship has been mostly acknowledged as an important source but untapped while their much participation is essential for economic growth and development of the country’s economy. The number of women entrepreneurs, ratio of women chief executives in the corporate sector and the share of women in the holding of corporate ownerships and assets are almost negligible in Pakistan.
In Pakistan only 11.8 percent companies have women ownership while in Turkey is 25.4 percent; this is 62.9 percent in Philippines, Indonesia 22.1 percent, 29.2 percent in Uzbekistan, 32.7 percent in Tajikistan. World Bank recently reported that Pakistan ranks lowest among countries with women entrepreneurs. Pakistan has the world’s lowest rate of women’s entrepreneurship with only one percent of female entrepreneurs compared to 21 percent of male.
Less than 12 percent of firms in Pakistan have female participation in ownership compared to more than 18 percent in South Asia and 34 percent globally. Only six percent of firms have majority female ownership, which is nearly half the South Asian average of 11 percent.
Pakistan faces gender disparity at various social levels. The country ranks 143 out of 144 in the Global Gender Gap Report of 2016 in terms of economic participation and opportunities for women. This global ranking has been unchanged since 2015 because of the complexity surrounding the socioeconomic factors like employment, financial inclusion, business and asset ownership.
Decreasing women work participation
In 2014, only 25 percent of the 90 million Pakistani women actively participated in some form of labor. From 2004 to 2013, the average work force gap between Pakistan and the South Asia market decreased. An in-depth review of the statistics reveals that most of this development is due to the growth in Pakistani agriculture sector, which increased from 67 to 75 percent. The share of women in industry, services, wage and salaried work has decreased by 3.6 percent, 4.6 percent and 6.6 percent respectively.
The decline in women’s work participation appeared at the time when adult female literacy rate was increased by 75 percent between 2005 and 2015. There are no doubt a good number of educated female individuals but the number of females who are actually contributing to the various life of economy is very less.
Women’s Economic Participation and Empowerment status in Pakistan published by the UN Women, analyzing various factors representing gender disparity, only focused on income generation rather than economic inclusion targets set for women. This kind of short-term focus results in one-off initiatives and greater unskilled employment rather than entrepreneurship or highly skilled jobs.
Only 13 percent of women are able to borrow from a microfinance institution and merely 5 percent of women have a bank account and in Pakistan. Greater access to formal finance can improve economic empowerment and allow an increasing number of women to participate in the formal economy.
In a report the Financial Inclusion of Women in Pakistan 2016 states that employment is often tied to banking, as wages need to be received. Therefore the greater economic opportunity through employment or entrepreneurship is a key factor for the financial inclusion of women in Pakistan.
The UN Women report recommends that there should be incentives for enterprises that have better women employment ratio, women decision makers or the woman owner of the enterprise. The report also recommends improving the ownership of physical assets, technical and management training, improved working conditions for women, and financial inclusion through supporting financial institutions like banks.
Good future ahead
The Financial Inclusion of Women in Pakistan 2016 supports the focus areas and highlights mobility constraints, banking regulatory policies, property rights and collateral, and the financial literacy as a few factors the financial inclusion. Along with a complex environment for banks and other financial institutions are the bottlenecks for them as well.
Efforts are being made to minimize the gender disparity level in the country. In this regard, Karandaaz Pakistan in collaboration with Department for International Development (UKAid) has launched a program, Innovation Challenge Fund, focused on supporting female entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
Targeted projects and special initiatives such as Karandaaz are trying to improve the industry and provide the technical and financial links in order to deliver financial services to women and others who are out of this financial circle. Karandaaz Pakistan has joined hands with three business incubators to launch its program on women entrepreneurship.
Through the DFID-funded Innovation Challenge Fund, Karandaaz is providing grants worth Rs25 million to LUMS, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management, and Invest2Innovate (Pvt.) Ltd. These grants will be used by partner incubators to identify women-owned, growing businesses and provide them with high quality entrepreneurship training.
Businesses that perform well in the program will be eligible to receive investment from Karandaaz. Karandaaz is committed to breaking barriers for women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. It demonstrate the private sector the tremendous potential within women-led businesses.
Moreover, as per an announcement of the officials, the World Bank is in process to launch a professional skills development program in Faisalabad to promote women entrepreneurship. The program will equip women entrepreneurs with fundamental entrepreneurial knowledge and skills required to help them excel in the industry.
Faisalabad’s growing economic activity could be further scaled up by expanding the role of women entrepreneurs as equals in entrepreneurial and industrial sectors.
The World Bank’s representative commented under the World Bank-funded program, experts would educate women entrepreneurs about how to improve effectiveness and sustainability of business operations. Under the new program, women entrepreneurs would be trained on modern lines about growing and promoting their businesses by providing them with comprehensive client-networking services.
Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, significant numbers of women are running their own businesses; however, they have no valuable platform to highlight the challenges. There is still much to be done in terms of empowering women economically, and to create business and employment opportunities for them.
Better understanding of how business and scaling works will enable women to embrace entrepreneurship and prosper in their businesses. Further it will enable them to prosper and support their families better, in addition to being forefront fighters of the national economy.