Women Entrepreneurship Initiatives
The women economic development in Pakistan has been quite ignored and over the years most of the
programs/ interventions have been directed towards removing violence against women, women’s
primary education and health care, women crisis centers and most recently a rigorous drive on political
empowerment of women by giving them 20% representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan.
Despite governmental commitment and donors efforts to reduce gender inequalities, nothing has been
done with regards to developing proper women economic action plan to uplift women socio-economic
status. On ad hoc basis, some common facility centers and vocational/technical training institutes to
enhance female participation rate have been established which provide traditional skills. On the other
hand, to mobilize youth energy into economic sectors, government has launched internship programs
and other incentives yet its impact on the grass root level is not visible due to lack of information and
knowledge to young females regarding these facilities. The result is that many girls become confined
to their homes.
Looking at the demand side, during 2000-2005, a large group of urban based educated women
proactively, knocked different government department doors for enterprise development facilitation.
But none of these organizations were able to cater their specialized needs such as;
• Offices on affordable rents
• Display areas
• Specialised training programs to improve employability of females through diversification in
• Direct guidance and support to young and creative potential female entrepreneurs
• Building strong network of Women Business
• Information on business documentation
Collectively as well as independently, these intermediary organizations have facilitated on peace meal
basis. However, there was a need for holistic program for enterprise and leadership development of
women in Pakistan to enhance their potential and facilitate in their endeavours. Hence, SMEDA
stepped in to support the development of this marginalized segment of economic enterprise. SMEDA
immediately, reached out to businesswomen nationwide through its helpdesks at key business towns
Our extensive interaction with Women Entrepreneurs (WEs) at various platforms clearly indicates that
lack of business management skills, information gaps and lack of networking are major impediments in
the development of women led businesses in Pakistan. It is in this background, different intervention/
projects are being undertaken by SMEDA, independently as well as with local/ international partners
for complementing each others efforts in reaching out for Women Entrepreneurs in Pakistan. The main
Women Business Development Center (WBDCs): As per the demand of WEs, the WBDCs at
Karachi, Quetta and Swat are in process of establishment which will be opening within 2012. Owing to
the success and growing demand of WBIC, a proposal for opening new centers across Pakistan
including AJK and GB on similar lines has been submitted to government of Pakistan for approval of
funding. The objective is so to give equal opportunity to educated house-wives and young girls in other
regions for setting up a successful business in a flexible working arrangement that fits well with their
role as women. WBICs Clients are women from diverse backgrounds reflecting multi-faceted nature of
Women Businesses are its Clients. Especially WEs dealing in manufacturing, trading or services
sector (excluding clinical doctors, dentists, lawyers and NGOs) stand to gain the most from this facility.
Of course there are flexibility to accommodate novel business ideas, mooted by Women
Capacity Building Program for South Punjab: SMEDA’s WED Cell during 2011-12 designed a
program for capacity building of WEs of South Punjab with consultation of chambers members. The
program included, training program titled “Enhancing Exhibition Skills”, in which 50 WEs participated.
Also provided sponsorship to 20 WEs at Islamabad Expo 2012. Moreover, organized market exposure
visit to 16 WEs at Lahore.
Pre-feasibility Studies: Over 180 pre-feasibility studies prepared to assist the start-up and these
studies are easily downloadable from SMEDA’s website (www.smeda.org.pk). WE oriented studies are
Day Care Center, High School, Montessori School, Internet Café, Private Hospital, Medical
Transcription, Boutique, Flower Shop, Wooden Furniture Workshop, Beauty Clinic, and many more.
Opportunity in Exhibitions: SMEDA in collaboration with partner organizations have sponsored over
120 Women Entrepreneurs in different local exhibitions and 5 ladies went to SME Technology Fair,
Marketing Assistance: SMEDA provides advisory services to WEs to develop proper marketing
plans, export documentation, labeling, proper brochure & website development along with registration
of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Copyrights.
Business Plan Development: SMEDA develops customized and demand driven business plans for
Facilitation for Financing: SMEDA has signed MoU with First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) to
provide financial assistance on priority basis to WEs having adequate work experience in their line of
business. Moreover, SMEDA offers advisory services assistance for securing finance/credit from
various financial institutions. Side by side provide advice on financial cycle management, inventory
management, and efficient production management.
Training programs for Entrepreneurship Development: Conducts training programs across
Pakistan covering management, technical and skill development training sessions, in which more than
300 ladies have already participated.
Technical Assistance: provide information to WEs on latest technology innovations as well as
industry based machinery and tools requirements. Moreover, for energy efficiency management,
special team provide hands-on-support.
Industry Academia Linkages: SMEDA has build a close liaison with different universities gender
studies department for conducting need based activities such as “Entrepreneurship Courses &
Seminars”, Internship with WEs, exposure visits to Chambers & Industrial clusters, and meeting with
Women Role Models. Some of the institutions linked up with SMEDA are Punjab University-Lahore,
Fatima Jinnah Women University- Islamabad, Peshawar University, and Karachi University.
The future strategy has been designed keeping in view the targets set forth in the “National Economic
Council Implementation Plan of Framework for Economic Growth 2015-16”. We plan to undertake
following activities for WEs across Pakistan:
1. Engagement of Youth: Strengthen our linkages with women colleges/universities to run
entrepreneurship development sessions, create internship opportunities and arrange visits to
1. Connectivity to markets and people: Create more opportunities for WEs to participate in
Local Exhibitions, and jointly organize Exposure Visits to different markets e.g., Faislabad,
Karachi, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, & Lahore.
1. Strengthen IPRs:Equip WEs with relevant information for branding, labeling and seeking
intellectual property protection for their creative work.
1. Expanding the network of Women Business Centers (upto 25):As per the demand of WEs,
the WBCs at Karachi, Quetta and Swat are in process of establishment which will be opening
within 2012. While, the success of WBC in other regions have raised the expectations of WEs
operating in other regions and we have received demand for setting up new centers in Multan,
Gujranwala, Islamabad, Abbotabad, D.I.Khan, Muzaffrabad-AJK & Gilgit-GB on similar lines.
1. Conduct a need assessment of Women Entrepreneurs across Pakistan to design
comprehensive capacity building program.
1. Training programs on following topics:
· Power of Social Media (Gmail, Facebook & Tweeter)
· Effective planning for Product launch
· Export Markets & Marketing (non traditional products)
· Business Plan Development
· Legal Issues (Contract Mgmt, Taxation, Company Regt.)
· Export Import Documentation and Financing Schemes
· Small Business Management: Boutique & Textile Designing Business
The programs mentioned above were designed keeping in view the demand of the WEs in that
SMEDA women clients categories
WEs running businesses from
Females keen for business Would be start ups
Need office in attractive
commercial location but want to
avoid hassles of maintaining an
But don’t want to venture on an
independent office Straightaway.
Need some flexible Setting to test
prospects of their business
Still stuck with the Question to do
or not to do business. Needing
advice and concept clearance
You may become part of SMEDA network by filling in the form. In case, you need business advice, or
jointly want to undertake capacity building program for your particular chamber or association
members, kindly contact us for further details