On the march to economic glory
Sep 03 - 09, 2001
The society of women is the foundation of good
manners; of course a pre-requisite to achieve brilliant results
especially for success in business. The increasing trend developed
among the women to be self-employed suggests that time is not far away
when women factor would also have an important role in the economic
growth of the country. Possessing the natural gift of politeness,
women entrepreneurs, and if provided the level ground, are expected to
bring new milestones to this country.
Besides joining the Information Technology sector
in a significant number, the women entrepreneurs are successfully
doing business in textile garments, fashion designing, handicrafts,
jewelry, fancy candles of international quality, handmade gift items,
leather garments etc.
The influx of women business graduates from various
universities and business schools and a visible change among the
females to be self-employed is the significant indicator of women's
participation towards economic development of the society.
Minister of State and Chairman Export Promotion
Bureau (EPB) Tariq Ikram has said that efforts were being made to
streamline formal and informal entrepreneurial capability of women in
Speaking at the formal inauguration of WEXNET 2001,
an exhibition for Women Entrepreneurs and NGOs organized by EPB at
Karachi Expo Centre, the chairman expressed the hope that he feels
that our women entrepreneurs are engaged with the business of
untraditional items have the potential to add $25-30 million to
Pakistan's exports. The objective of the 3-day exhibition and seminar
was to encourage women entrepreneurs to come forward and contribute to
the efforts of the government for economic revival and achieve higher
export targets. Regarding the exhibition, Tariq Ikram said that it is
the beginning of the journey towards the higher goals. Currently, the
women entrepreneurs are being given proper guidelines and assistance
by resolving their problems, this will certainly help in creating an
export culture in Pakistan. He said after Karachi, exhibitions for
women entrepreneurs will be held in other major cities of the country.
He also agreed to look into possibilities to organize such exhibitions
in the rural areas especially for the display of traditional
handicrafts, which is likely to prove a fascinating view for the
buyers from within Pakistan and abroad.
It was for the first time that an exclusive
exhibition was organized at official level exclusively for women
entrepreneurs. The purpose was to bring them on a platform from where
their skill and expertise could be given a push for exports. The
government on its part had already paved the way for women
entrepreneurs and the institutions like EPB, Pakistan Export Finance
Guarantee Agency, First Women Bank Limited, and Small Business and
Finance Corporation etc are there to provide financial and technical
guidance for the women entrepreneurs.
The exhibition provided a meeting opportunity to
the buyers, exporters and the producers. The EPB chairman agreed that
women entrepreneurs are facing difficulties particularly in the areas
of finance, sourcing of raw material as well as marketing. In order to
sort out such irritants, the EPB chairman said that the Export
Promotion Bureau is hiring the servicing of a consultant who would be
given the task to find out ways and means for resolving the issues
faced by women entrepreneurs.
Miss Shameim Kazmi, daughter of late Major M.H.
Kazmi is the Managing Director, Marketing & Research Consultants (MRC).
She is also President of Association of Business, Professional and
Shameim, who has given her best of life for the
cause of women in Pakistan, Says "Pakistan is among the many
developing countries of the world with its own social-geographical
environment and historical perspectives. The economy of the country is
still predominantly agricultural, though it has undergone marked
Despite efforts for achieving targeted growth
rates, Pakistan's development experience has always been under the
pressure of a high rate of population growth, which has persistently
around 3 per cent. It is surprising that the birth rate has remained
virtually unchanged over the last quarter century despite
urbanization, rise in the age of marriage and some progress in female
education. Employment pressures are rising as a result of high
Shameim said that a considerable number of women
are working in agriculture, animal husbandry and poultry farming,
especially in rural areas. The self employed in semi-rural and urban
areas were never counted in the labor force. On the whole there is
great paucity of quantitative information about women of Pakistan,
which is causing hampering effect on any development policies and
program planning for development of women. The Association of Business
Professional and Agricultural Women has been continuously putting
pressure through symposia and seminars, telegrams and personal contact
with Policy makers to make the extra efforts for developing a database
about the working women in Pakistan.
On national level the females are on low priority
in all spheres in the two most important sectors i.e. education and
health. Following statistics are clear indications of her low profile
participation and share of the available resources.
Life Expectancy: In most countries females
outnumber of live long than males except in Pakistan, India, Nepal and
Bangladesh. Life expectancy of females at birth is 4 as compared to 51
Marriage Age: The reported mean age of marriage
is 20.8 years for women as compared to 25.4 years of men, but there is
evidence that it is considerably lower for females, especially in
rural areas where they are married even in childhood.
Shameim feels that awareness among the females to
get economic independence is growing at a much faster rate, which is a
strong indicator of the economic prosperity for the women, which was
in the store so far.
Shameim Kazmi while highlighting the aims and
objectives of the Association of Business, Professional and
Agricultural Women said the main objectives of the council are to
achieve high standards of professionalism in respective fields of
service. The council works to stimulate and encourage women from all
fields of endeavor to realize and accept their responsibility to the
local, national and international community, It encourages and
enthuses women and girls to acquire both basic and advanced education,
as well as occupational training, economic stability and security.
The Council aims at fostering better understanding
and empathy amongst Pakistani women by facilitating social harmony,
exchange of views and greater interaction. The Council also works to
discourage and remove discrimination of women in order to encourage
and promote equal opportunities and status for women in the economic,
agriculture, and civil and political life. It makes conscientious
efforts towards the uplift of the rural women in Pakistan. The Council
offers a non-official, non-political and non-sectarian forum to
promote activities targeted to enhance the well being of mankind with
respect to health, education and culture.
The Council has identified business areas with
feasibility reports giving technical know-how and investment
requirements regarding certain projects where the women can do
business. Some of them are: Washing Soap factory, Shoe laces, File
tags & packing material, Paper tubes, Beauty Parlor, Readymade
garments, Embroidery, Henna (Mehndi) Light Snacks (paparr, Roasted
Nuts & Potato Chips, Packaging, toys and Dolls making, Rexene made
products, Vocational Training Institute, Leather Goods, Hand-made
Carpets, Marble Products (handicrafts) Acrylic Sheets, Pathological
Labs, Livestock Poultry Farming and a number of other areas for
service oriented and low investment business.
Zeenat Saeed, is the President of Pakistan
Association of Women Entrepreneurs (Khi) and Vice President SAARC
Women Entrepreneurs Council is an active businesswoman running her
business of silver platted wares at Park Towers.
Zeenat while talking to PAGE regretted that
overall conditions are not supportive for economic growth in Pakistan.
Currently dealing in artistically made silver platted gift items,
household wares and accessories, precious decorative items etc,
despite having rich business experience is afraid of spreading her
business due to what she called the bad conditions. She recalled that
once she had started the export business in textile garments and more
than 400 workers were earning their bread and butter were associated
with her business. However thanks to the law and order conditions,
ethnic and sectarian forces accompanied by bad laws forced her to wind
up the business and made her a defaulter. She said with a sense of
pain that she was still clearing the backlog of the bank loans, that
is the price of the venture she has to pay.
Zeenat Saeed, a lady of grace and dignity in her
every gesture, says "Pakistan having tremendous economic
opportunities, so far failed to click due to poor infrastructure,
cumbersome laws and attitude of the government machinery and absence
of social and entertainment attractions for the visitors has failed to
attract the foreign buyers". Due to dull and drab atmosphere
prevailing here, what to speak of the foreign buyers or investors even
personal relatives living abroad are reluctant to visit this country.
She feels that we will have to provide matching facilities available
in other countries in the region to survive economically. Citing the
example of what she called the gross contradictions prevailing in the
society, Zeenat said that officially speaking, local population is
disallowed access to liqueur, however the ground reality speaks quite
differently. The bulk of the liqueur, either made locally or foreign
made is consumed by the local population. We have to say good bye to
these contradictions by developing strong values to develop a true
culture either this way or that way. Contradictory attitude never
helps to achieve big goals, she remarked. Being the Vice President of
SAARC Women Entrepreneurs' Council Zeenat will be representing
Pakistan women entrepreneurs at a meeting of the SAARC women being
held at Calcutta sometimes next month.
Someone has rightly said that man has his will —
but woman has her way. This is what it is exactly in the field of
business where a considerable number of women entrepreneurs have made
their way to success, while many more are in the pipeline. The present
government is also giving due priorities to the womenfolk in the
economic, social and political policies. Our young business graduates
have new ideas and zeal to work also, the only thing they lack is the
financial support. The need of the hour is that our financial
institutions should provide financial support especially to the
business graduates so that instead of wasting the talents in
employment they should be provided opportunity to be their own boss.
This would certainly reduce the pressure of unemployment in the