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Women don’t ask for handouts now, they ask for work, says chief of DOCH Fashion House

The stark landscapes of Balochistan are a backdrop for the colourful embroidery of the region. Exceedingly fine work, all done by hand, it is recognized the world over for its fine quality.

The skills are acquired from childhood onwards, but the women who do the work live in remote corners of the province. Confined to their homes, they are cut off, not just from the rest of the world but even the provincial capital of Quetta.

Deedar Mengal has taken it upon herself to reach out to these women to bring them out of the isolation that is a part of their lives- and to help them generate income from their craft. As an entrepreneur, it is her goal to connect the craftswomen of Balochistan to the market, so that they may cash in on their traditional skills.

Deedar began as a social worker and her concern about the women she met and their families grew as she learnt more about them. “I asked the women to send their children to school,” she says, “and they said, how will we eat if the children don’t work? î Some women were doing a bit of embroidery work, but only at the level of the home. Deedar began by buying some of the work and selling it in the city. Sales began to pick up and she went into partnership with Saddam Ali, a BBA student at BUITEM.

The partners brought BUITEM into the picture and the incubator gave them an office space. At BUITEM, they learnt how to manage their inventory and keep their books in order. Six months later, they set up their own office. Once they ventured into online sales, the demand for Baloch crafts soon outstripped supply. Deedar and Saddam then went out into the field, exploring remote corners of the province, and developing a network of producers.

The next step was to set up centers outside the provincial capital of Quetta, in Wadh, Khuzdar and Kalat. The craftswomen began to venture out of their homes, to a nearby work space.

Setting up the centres was no easy task. Mobility is a major issue for women in Balochistan, and at first, Deedar says, they found doors closed on them. With time, they found a level of acceptance. “Women are not even allowed to go and see a doctor,” says Deedar. “For them to come to the centres to pursue their own business was a huge step to take.” But take it they did, and Deedar is proud of the fact that centre heads now come to Quetta for training. The women in Kalat say they are even willing to go to Islamabad on their own to explore training and marketing opportunities.

To stay in touch with her network, Deedar has to travel far and wide, sometimes driving up to 18 hours at a stretch to reach remote villages through the mountains. She had to fight against the norm that dictates women can only work as doctors or teachers. “At first people were shocked,” she says. “Why are you going out of the house to work, they said. ì That is a man’s job. But now they can see how the work benefits so many, and they appreciate it.”

Deedar says her father was all for women’s education. Having broken the rule that says girls beyond a certain age should not go out of the house, he educated his daughters and encouraged them to break other barriers as well. Luckily, Deedar is married to a broadminded man who understands the importance of her work.

DOCH now operates in three districts of Balochistan, and has reached out to 120 women. Deedar says she would like to have a centre in every district of the province, to offer employment opportunities. “Finances are a major challenge,” she says. “Whether its personal loans or institutions, people don’t trust women and doubt their ability to pay back.”

She started the business with her own savings and has built up outlying centres with community support. DOCH is now looking to tap the international market, and is marketing Baloch handicrafts through social media.

Through Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEM), Deedar became a part of Karandaaz Women Entrepreneurship Challenge (WEC) in 2017. Karandaaz promotes access to finance for small businesses, to help generate broad based employment in Pakistan. Improving economic participation of women is addressed as a priority area for the organization and its sponsors, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. WEC aims to support women-led businesses by providing business development support as well as risk capital and grants so the enterprises can grow. In the first WEC round, Karandaaz partnered with three business incubators for the capacity building of women entrepreneurs. They are LUMS in Lahore, BUITEM in Quetta and Invest2Innovate (i2i). Businesses that successfully graduated from the incubation programmess become eligible to receive funding from Karandaaz. Karandaaz funding will help DOCH to implement its growth plans, as money becomes available to upgrade materials and equipment.

“I would encourage other women to set up in business as well,” says Deedar. “Jobs are scarce, this way you can open up opportunities for others.” She understands that this may prove to be an uphill task. “You should not be afraid of challenges,” she asserts. “Challenges are there to be faced, sooner or later you will achieve your goal.” Her goal was to help women become self-sufficient, and she is on the way to achieving it. There were women whose families did not have enough to eat, who were so poor that they would have to reach out for financial support. “These women don’t ask for money now,” says Deedar. “They ask for work- and that’s a step forward.”

Western Union Expands with Al Baraka Bank

Western Union currently has more than 9,600 Agent locations across Pakistan

Consumers in Pakistan now have more options to receive international money transfers, thanks to an alliance between Western Union, a leader in cross-border and cross-currency money transfer, and Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) Limited.

Full activation of 188 Al Baraka Bank locations in 99 cities of Pakistan will expand Western Union’s retail footprint and enable consumers to receive money in minutes from more than 200 countries and territories. Western Union currently has more than 9,600 Agent locations across Pakistan. Remittances play a crucial role in recipient economies. They not only boost economic growth within the household but also across the economy.

“As people migrate to work abroad and to support their families back home, we continually strive to expand access, making it more convenient for their families to receive Western Union money transfers,” said Asad Iftikhar, Sr. Country Manager, Pakistan & Afghanistan, Western Union. “We are delighted to welcome Al Baraka Bank to our global family of Agents and echo their vision of providing unrivalled service to consumers by giving them increased access to international money transfer channels,” he said.
Pakistan’s economy continues to show strong growth, emerging as one of the top performers in South Asia, according to World Bank. According to the Migration and Remittances Brief by World Bank, Pakistan was one of the top 10 remittance receiving countries in 2017. Personal remittances are a strong contributor to the GDP of Pakistan.

“We are pleased as well as privileged to be working with Western Union to provide money transfer services to our customers nationwide. Our commitment is to continually evolve, providing our customers with the best possible service. We are proud to be providing our customers with access to the speed, convenience and reliability of Western Union,” said Ahmed Shuja Kidwai, CEO, Al Baraka Bank Pakistan.

‘Govt must reduce reliance on Import to improve export sector’

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President AKIA, Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of and former provincial of Mian Zahid Hussain last Wednesday said that inflation is increased by 1 percent to 5.2 pc in June as compared to 4.2 pc in May 2018. Rupee devaluation against USD has drawn a positive impact over exports which have risen by 46 pc in May this year as compared to the May 2017. Exports have reached to $ 21.33 US which is $ 1 Bn higher than that of 2016-17; however increased inflation caused higher cost of doing business equally affecting all people.

The veteran business leader while talking to the business community said that it is vital for the incoming Government to reduce reliance on imports and improve export sector through incentives and look for new international markets for value added products in order to attain economic stability. To restructure the economic system on modern lines, the incoming Government should introduce business friendly policies, realistic exchange rates, and competitive energy prices for export sector.

The former minister said that free trade agreements should also be reviewed and the informal sector should be provided levelled playing field so that it may partake equally in the economic development of the Country. Reduction in cost of doing business will allow new investors to bring more investment in the industrial sector and existing industries will grow and flourish thus increasing incomes will improve the purchasing power of the people.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that to take Pakistan to a distinguished place across globe, Government should immediately address the burning issues including water scarcity, increased cost of doing business, inflation and global warming. Increasing foreign reserves, improving balance of payment, marketing Pakistan’s products in a modern way and reliance on locally manufactured products are some important areas where Government should focus, he added.

He said that growth of trade and industry depends on the situation of education, skills, power and water supply and tariff, ease of business and law & order situation. Business community is ready to work collectively with the Government and elected representative and to provide support in all aspects. Pakistanis should work together to increase dependency on local products; increase in local products consumption will bring prosperity in the Country and growth to the National economy.

CJ role on construction of dams appreciative, Business community to support new Dams: Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF President AKIA, Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of and former provincial of Mian Zahid Hussain last Monday said that chief justice measures for banning taxes on mobile recharge and reduction in petroleum prices and now construction of new dams to curtail the water scarcity problems are highly appreciative. CJP himself donated 1 million for this cause and requested Pakistanis to donate for this project of national interest.

The veteran business leader while talking to the business community said that water scarcity is further increasing in the country, Turbela and Mangla dams are at dead level and water availed through rains are not only wasted due to lack of dams but also become a reason of flood in the plain areas causing heavy losses to lives and assets. Construction of new dams in this situation is highly beneficial which will counter the water scarcity and improve the agriculture sector.

The former minister said that WAPDA sources disclosed that project colony and model village at Bhaha dam is under construction however actual project is yet to start. Bhasha dam will be 272 meter heighted, having the storage facility of 8 million acre feet and will produce 4500 MW electricity. Bhasha dam will not irrigate any land directly but ultimately it will benefit the agricultural lands of river Indus. Mohamand dam will be 700 feet heighted, will store 1.3 million acre feet, irrigate 17 thousand acres agricultural land and will produce 800 MW of electricity.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that approximately 14 billion gallons of water get wasted annually in Pakistan, which can be saved if the storage facility is increased in shape of new dams. It will help Pakistan overcome the water scarcity problem and will help farmers to irrigate their lands on cheaper rates thus benefiting the Country and the people associated with agriculture. No dam has been constructed after Mangla dam in 1976, while each new dam in a decade is important to be constructed taking the increased water demand in account.

He said that because of the ignorance caused regarding dams, Pakistan is facing water shortage today. There should be no political point scoring on the construction of Bhasha and Mohmand dams, construction work to be started in ongoing fiscal year. Pakistanis should actively support this project of National interest so that they can be accomplished in time. WAPDA should complete their work on other projects of dams so that construction of new dams becomes possible in the Country. Reservations of provinces on Kalabagh dam should be addressed and resolved to get it constructed for the growth of agriculture sector.

Khushhali Microfinance Bank’s Clients Win Accolades at Citi-PPAF Micro-Entrepreneurship Awards

Khushhali Microfinance Bank’s successful micro-entrepreneurs received acknowledgement at 12th Citi-PPAF Micro-entrepreneurship Awards ceremony held to celebrate the achievements of outstanding micro entrepreneurs across Pakistan. These awards are given to individuals who demonstrate courage and resilience to overcome distressing circumstances and establish successful businesses.

Citi Foundation and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) received a total of 375 applications, out of which more than 30 entrepreneurs were shortlisted for various awards. The shortlisted applicants then underwent rigorous assessment which was conducted a bio competent jury team. The candidates were also given two day training on financial management and business development to further hone their skills. Khushhalibank’s client Sanobar from Hyderabad won National Winner (female) entrepreneur award. Sanobar was orphaned at a young age and instead of depending on others for financial support, she moved to Hyderabad city at a young age and managed to set up a chicken shop. Saifullah from Naseerabad won the award for Regional Winner (Balochistan). He had the vision to set up his own business and availed loans from Khushhalibank to set up a profitable gift shop. Surayya Bibi from Muzaffarabad won the Regional Winner (Azad Jammu & Kashmir) award. She overcame tough financial circumstances and used loans from the bank to set up a small grocery store. With revenues from her business, over the years Surayya has built her house on her own and provided good education to her daughter.

Citi-PPAF Micro Entrepreneurship Awards are hosted annually by Citi Foundation and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund. This program is a signature initiative of the Citi Foundation aimed at raising awareness about the importance of microfinance in supporting the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of low-income individuals. The program also provides entrepreneurs with valuable resources including business management trainings, which further strengthen their ability to work towards their economic well-being.

Talking about this achievement of the bank’s clients, President, Khushhali Microfinance Bank, Ghalib Nishtar said, “The appreciation of micro-entrepreneurs at such platforms boosts their confidence and brings their story of success to the forefront, to inspire others. Khushhali Microfinance Bank is proud of its clients, and is committed to support entrepreneurs by providing them with our microfinance products to improve lives and promote financial inclusion.”

 

Government to take steps for connected growth of Industrial, Agriculture and SME sectors: Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President AKIA, Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of and former provincial of Mian Zahid Hussain last Friday said that Government to take measures for introducing local products internationally in order to get increased share in international trade. To develop local industry, free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries should be reviewed and renegotiated accordingly. To improve foreign reserves, increase production and export of value added sector should be focused.

The veteran business leader while talking to the business community said that ministry of commerce and FBR should waive regulatory duties on import of raw material so that higher cost raw material for export sector can be controlled. Competitive energy tariff should be given to export sector in accordance to the competitors in the region including China, Bangladesh and India where energy tariff is half compared to Pakistan. Instead of short term packages to export oriented industries, better long term policies should be formed which may support the cause of export sector’s development through improved production and technical developments.

The former minister said that access to new international markets is vital to increase Country’s export for which necessary measures should be taken by the respective authorities. Competitive custom rebate facility should be given to the export sector so that Pakistani industrialists may also join the regional competition. It is important to be vigilant on concessions being provided to export promotion zones (EPZs) under CPEC so that existing industry do not get undermine and the basic aims of increased exports and job creation may be achieved. Government should take measures to stop misuse of Afghan trade transit so that legal imports may be improved.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that fiscal policy should be reformed with focus on ease of doing business, lowering cost of doing business, use of latest technology and growth in value added products in order to encourage the investment opportunities in export oriented sector and growth of industrial sector.

He said that role of SME sector is vital in economic development of Pakistan. For growth of small medium industries easy and instant loans should be provided to this sector. SME credit is negligible as compared to other countries, for which Government and State Bank of Pakistan should take required measures. International proportion of value addition to be achieved with joint venture of Agriculture & Industrial Sectors.

Engro Foods Goes Green in operations at Milk Collection Center

A trend setter in the dairy industry of Pakistan, Engro Foods Limited (EFL) has taken another step towards achieving operational sustainability, along with being environmentally responsible. EFL has gone green by converting to solar energy for business operations at their Milk Collection Center (MCC) in Sobhodero, Sindh District of Ranipur. The Milk Collection Center is now operating as a Green center.

It has benefitted the center with continuous power supply for the industrial grade milk chillers and other heavy equipment with zero power generation cost. Previously, generators and conventional electrical supply were used to run the milk collection center, which is now replaced completely with solar based energy solution.

The conversion to solar energy has translated for EFL Milk Collection Centre in achieving 30% decrease in operational cost due to zero consumption of diesel fuel. It has brought higher environmental sustainability to the business operations of the MCC. The electrical appliances being used have been converted to DC power, which are supplied electricity through the battery charged using the installed solar panels.

Mr. Ali Ahmed Khan, Managing Director Engro Foods said, “We are committed to reinvent in the way we operate. Operating as an environmentally responsible company is one of the key objectives of our identity. It is imperative for us to lead by example for Pakistan’s dairy industry. There is always something disruptive that can be implemented to benefit the industry as well as society.”

It is one of the key objectives of Engro Foods to reduce environmental impact along with operating sustainably. EFL teams are working relentlessly to ensure businesses operations are environmentally responsible in the communities they operate in, now and for generations to come.

The pilot project will be tested in both flush and lean seasons of the dairy industry. The model will then be replicated at other Milk Collection Centers.

NBP Collaborates with AMTF in Blood Donation Drive

National Bank of Pakistan has facilitated Afzaal Memorial Thalassemia Foundation (AMTF) in organizing a ’Blood Donation Camp’ at the NBP Head Office to receive blood donations from NBP employees for later blood transfusions to patients specially children suffering from thalassemia and other blood related diseases.

This initiative received an overwhelming response and large units of blood were collected. NBP employees volunteered enthusiastically and worked in conjunction with the medical teams of AMTF to make the Blood Donation Camp a real success.

NBP President Saeed Ahmad in his message said, “Voluntary blood donation is a valuable service to people in severe medical emergencies. NBP has always been a front-runner in setting-up such health camps for the benefit of the communities. It gives me great pleasure to see our employees enthusiasm and support for such causes, and demonstrating their strong sense of social responsibility.”

Regarding the collaboration with NBP, AMTF Executive Director, Ateeq-Ur- Rehman said “We appreciate NBP’s efforts in highlighting the issues and challenges of those suffering from Thalassemia in Pakistan. Blood is the life line of Thalassemia Children, but sadly there is scarcity of blood for them. Thalassemia is a havoc and a cyclone which is ruining our generation. I requested NBP to join hands to eradicate Thalassemia from Pakistan and I am satisfied with the positive and encouraging response I received from the Bank. With increased efforts, we can help the afflicted children and may prevent new cases by raising awareness about Thalassemia.”

The World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) event was established in 2004, which serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts of blood. Afzaal Memorial Thalassemia Foundation (AMTF) is engaged in managing Thalassemia Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with all required sub-specialties clinics, medical & diagnostic services for the patients suffering from Thalassemia and these services are ‘free-of-cost’ to the needy one.

NBP organizes such blood donation camps every year which is in addition to donations offered to entities engaged in social welfare activities – without any discrimination. This is in accordance with our mission statement to discharge our social responsibility as a good corporate citizen of Pakistan.

Shell launches new performance fuel V-Power

In a ceremony held at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi, Shell introduced its new Shell V-Power fuel with Dynaflex Technology in Pakistan.

The new Shell V-Power is an innovative new premium formulation designed now with Dynaflex Technology that has 5 times the molecules that reduce engine dirt and friction.

The formulation targets a key enemy of engine performance and efficiency – dirt deposits and helps to clean them away as you drive. It also has new friction reducing agents, designed to help key engine components turn more freely.

Shell has over a century of experience in developing fuels with over 120 fuel scientists and specialists across the globe working on fuels innovation, development and product implementation.

Haroon Rashid, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Shell Pakistan Limited said “We are committed to continuously improve the customer value proposition and bring the Pakistani Fuel Market at par with global markets. With this launch, we are very excited to offer our new Shell V-Power designed to provide greater engine efficiency with even better performance.

Customers are at the heart of everything that we do and Shell V-Power is a premium fuel for every car as it cleans the older engines and maintains the new ones with equal effectiveness.”

Shell fuel scientist Mae Ascan was also present at the launch and demonstrated the active cleaning agents present in the fuel and how they perform on the inlet valves inside the combustion chamber of the engine and cleans deposits as you drive.

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