Criteria developed for selecting these projects to be launched in two years

KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore
Nov 20 - 26, 2006

The Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) has developed definite criteria for the selection of 100 pilot projects to be initiated in the next two years for "Aik Hunar, Aik Nagar" (AHAN). A set of suggestions, in this regard, was recently discussed at a meeting held at SMEDA head office with Mr. Shahab Khawaja, Chief Executive Officer in the chair. The meeting was attended by Mr. Sohail Amir, Project Director AHAN; Mr. Sultan Tiwana, GM, Business & Sector Development Services; Syed Iqbal Kidwai, GM, Out-Reach and a number of senior SMEDA officials.

The Project Director AHAN highlighted the importance of this project in view of the personal interest taken by the Prime Minister. He highlighted the progress made by the existing pilot projects and explained the criteria proposed for the selection of 100 new pilots under Prime Minister's advice. The product range under AHAN includes traditional handicrafts, decoration pieces, items of daily or occasional use and any other product which, if developed and supported, can bring income to the poor rural/semi-urban communities, he said.

AHAN envisaged to enhance the value of the products presently being made in the rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan, including AJK, and are competitive in local, national and international markets by imparting training in Skill Development, Product Designing, Technological up-gradation, Marketing and Quality Assurance.

The Project Director informed that AHAN team was currently busy in gathering information to identify feasible projects for implementation throughout Pakistan for its 100 pilot projects.

He said that while identifying a project proposal, following points were being considered:

There should be clusters/organizations/groups directly involved in making the products with a certain skill level and are willing to improve their products.

Majority of the artisans/workers of those clusters should preferably belong to rural/semi-urban poor producer groups, including wage-earners and women, because ultimately the project activity should result in income generation for those targeted people.

They may preferably be willing to make their share to show their ownership. They may be already in organized form or willing to organize themselves in the form of cluster/group/association with a fully authorized representative body which should be in a position to work as partner with AHAN.

Any NGO, if already working with relevant rural and semi-urban communities for poverty alleviation through development of micro and small enterprises, may also join as local partner, depending upon the consent of the concerned parties. Government institutions that intend to or have already initiated activities which fall within the purview of AHAN project may also join hands with AHAN in achieving common objectives. Interventions may be identified with the help of concerned clusters/associations/groups which should clearly depict the change that may come as a result of that intervention. The intervention must add value to the selected product.

After identification of the nature of the intervention, AHAN will look for the best available resource to meet the requirements. Preferably those products may be selected where raw material is of low cost and easily available. Duration along with the cost of each project may be carried out. Role and responsibilities of partners be clearly defined in the form of an agreement.

While initiating a project it may be kept in mind that it should have a multiplying effect and result in sustainable economic activity. Base line data of each project will have to be collected to make a comparison after completion of the project. The meeting reviewed a large number of products being made in the four provinces and AJK and it was decided to examine the feasibility of starting these projects in the light of criteria described above.