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The Women Entrepreneurs’ Platform of Pakistan

I have visited Pakistan during the first half of November 2017 for a few days and attended the Launch of Pakistan Women Entrepreneurs’ Network for Trade (WE-NET) in Karachi.

The heroes of this Launch were World Bank Group and the High Commission of Australia and Yasmin Hyder. It wouldn’t have been possible without their support and enthusiasm. Opening speeches of the Launch were made by Patchamuthu Illangovan, the Country Director of the World Bank Group for Pakistan and HE Margaret Adamson, the High Commissioner of Australia in Pakistan.

Following these two keynote speakers, I made an opening address at the launch as the Founding President of W20 and Past President of KAGIDER. I touched upon the need for enhancing networking and networks for women all over the world and the need to end poverty and sustainable growth for countries, through pulling all resources of the country, especially women, in order not to leave anybody behind. Researchers found that women entrepreneurs and their organizations are more humane and women friendly employers. Women entrepreneurs, women top managers and women in all the echelons of the corporations are great instruments to be able to support others by providing them job opportunities or training in their respective organizations and countries.

The Founder and President of Pakistan Women Entrepreneurs Network for Trade (WE-NET) is Yasmin Hyder. She is a friend and a dedicated marketing and communications professional, working on every occasion to take her country and her connections, one step forward. She is the owner and the CEO of New World Concepts of Pakistan. Since 2001, New World Concepts has been offering marketing and management consultancy services and advisors for various corporations, including the World Bank Group and other international organizations.

Apart from Yasmin, the Board members of the newly formed WE-NET of Pakistan are Dr. Mahnaz Naveed Shah, Mariya Suhail, Sadiqa Husain Tayebaly and Lubna Farooq.

Sadiqa Husain Tayebaly is a designer and founder of Tali – a handicrafts business, based in Karachi. The company owns retail outlets. She is also the founder of Pakistan Handicrafts Council – a forum dedicated to the preservation of Pakistan’s culture through arts & crafts.

Lubna Farooq works at international trade of leather products, carpets and marble. She was founder of the 1st Women Chamber of Commerce in the northern province of Pakistan. She is also the owner of a mineral water bottling plant in Peshawar.

Dr. Mahnaz Naveed Shah is a medical doctor and an expert eye surgeon in Pakistan. She owns and operates an eye hospital as well as providing medical consultancy services in Karachi.

Mariya Suhail is from Lahore and her company is in trading and production of industrial machinery for natural, semi-precious stones and beads.

I hope that these founding members will make a mark for the advancement of women entrepreneurship in the country. I also expect that these women will contribute to the changes in Pakistan, which is at the threshold of sustainable growth and prosperity.

Pakistan is a big country with a population of more than 200 million. The current Pakistan state was established in 1947. Karachi is about 17 million people, whereas capital city Islamabad is about 1,5 million people. In my opinion more and more urbanization is also inevitable in the country.

Around 50% of this population is below 24 years old. The need to end poverty and enhancing education are apparent. On one hand you meet the very well educated international business people, on the other hand you notice the lack of education at large. Although, Pakistan has a fairly large English speaking population of all ages, international investment has been seriously hesitant to establish itself in the country. Koc Group of Turkey has recently made a new investment in Pakistan through its leading white goods and tv producer, Arcelik. They bought the leading white goods and electrical appliances company of Pakistan, Dawlance.

I expect that once the security environment is established, the investment climate shall prosper. As the level of education for the people of Pakistan shall increase, unemployment and informal economy shall diminish. It seems as if Pakistan has already succeeded in establishing some threshold in the security issues – I hope that I will be proven right about this security assumption of mine – and I believe that economic growth and all the rest will gradually follow suit.

Investment in education and healthcare and infrastructure are the priority issues for the country. The awareness about these issues is increasing, so we should expect that they will be solved sooner or later.

Pakistan and China are together are establishing a trade corridor called “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.” It is a serious energy investment program and will definitely make difference for Pakistan and all its neighbors – namely China, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Iran. All may benefit from this corridor.

Turkey has fairly recently signed a series of international pacts with Pakistan. These may also add to the prosperity of the country.

During the independence war of Turkey in 1920’s, Pakistan, – even though not yet established and definitely not rich – has collected and send a serious amount of fund for the newly established Turkey for its independence. Arriving quite late but safe, under the circumstances, it is alleged in many sources that Ataturk has established Is Bank, first ever national bank (and today’s the second largest bank) of the country with this fund in 1924. The bank has seriously contributed to the development of country at that time when capital markets were nonexisting.

The friendship between Turkey and Pakistan has a long history and enduring. Also, military coups and the language shows many common aspects. The business people you meet carry a Turkish name like “Efendi” or “Effendi” or you note many other common words in the language. Urdu is a blend of Farsi, Mongolian language, Turkish, Sanskrit and Arabic. The language of Altai mountains have an effect as well as. The word “Urdu” also resembles Turkish word “ordu” – army in Turkish. Another aspect of the language is it is written from left to right, different from Sanskrit and Arabic.

If we come back to gender issues, I believe that women of Pakistan can create a difference and when everybody holds each other’s hands tight, a difference will be created and contribution to the sustainable development will be unavoidable.

I must also recognize the effort put forward by the ladies of the World Bank Group – Maria Liungman, Noa Gimelli and Reshma Aftab – from Washington office and from Pakistan office taking all the time and effort flying to Karachi in order to back up the Launch. They also deserve applause.

During the free flow discussions I had with the women of Pakistan, I noted that many Pakistani women have very impressive career paths.

During my private discussions and during the presentation conducted by Yesim Sevig, Secretary General of KAGIDER, I also noted that KAGIDER’s being a role model for WE-NET and sharing the KAGİDER experience both have significant impact on the encouragement of other women.

Déjà vu! We had earlier worked on the same topic with Yesim for the women of Balkan countries and now they are up on their feet and prospering in every respect.

I wish all the luck to the WE-NET, all the founders and women of Pakistan!

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