On 23rd September 2020, THE PLATFORM by CGSS organized a webinar on the topic, “Pakistan Women Entrepreneurship: Identifying Challenges, Providing Solutions, & Exploring Future Prospects” to identify and discuss the problems faced by women entrepreneurs in Pakistan and to discuss their solutions and an effective way forward for supporting and encouraging women to join the business community.
The webinar was commenced with an insightful discussion by Ms. Lubna Bhayat, President, Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WCCI), Lahore & CEO, Shemeanswork. She highlighted the contribution of WCCI in empowering women of Pakistan and mentioned that WCCI is formed by dynamic women who aim to strengthen women entrepreneurs and highlight their contribution to the business community of Pakistan. She also mentioned that WCCI organizes certified training programs in different fields to ensure that women entrepreneurs have sufficient knowledge and skills to start their entrepreneurship journey.
She further stated, there are two major problems that women face while initiating a business and those include, the mindset of our society and various financial constraints. She concluded by suggesting that more awareness and training programs are the need of the hour for our women to make their place in the business sector.
Ms. Shazia Suleman, CEO, Inter Global Travel & tours & Former President Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WCCI), Lahore, shared her journey as a women entrepreneur in the tourism sector. She mentioned that it is very important to invest in organizations like WCCI to increase opportunities for women entrepreneurs and to help them in the constraints which they face. She stated that there are few cultural barriers and also a particular patriarchal mindset which might create hindrance but the situation is getting better and more women are entering the workforce. She also emphasized that women do not have much awareness and education regarding the tourism industry of Pakistan and for that purpose, we must help and support them.
Ms. Palwasha Nawaz, Project Executive, CGSS explained the challenges faced by the women entrepreneurs in the national ecosystem of Pakistan. She discussed the fundamental challenges faced by the women entrepreneurs include limited finances, discriminatory gender norms and attitudes, and limited access to the relevant networks, markets, and knowledge. Furthermore, she mentioned ways through which the challenges can be tackled. She suggested the women entrepreneurs should increase their financial literacy to understand the financial dynamics of the businesses. Additionally, she emphasized the role which can be played by the women chambers of Pakistan and the business development centers.
Ms. Nazia Waseem, Convener, FPCCI Builders & Developers discussed that there exist some stereotypes against women regarding their professional life. She emphasized that women are capable enough to handle businesses in all sectors including real state. She also emphasized that we need more women in the real estate business as it is a field that is often neglected when it comes to women and entrepreneurship. She also highlighted that our society needs to make safe spaces for women entrepreneurs so they may feel more confident in entering the business community. Ms. Nazia also stated that the financial system needs to be more women-friendly where they can easily operate and take loans when required.
The webinar was moderated by Ms. Minahil Shawal Afridi, Research Assistant, CGSS, and was attended by 30 participants from diverse backgrounds.