The UK-funded Karandaaz has signed investment agreements with seven women-led businesses to help women’s small and medium enterprises in Pakistan. These include New Age Flour and General Mills, Web Work Solution, M-Tex, Lel, Noha Global, Kamal Impex and Saira Rizwan.
The second round of the challenge provided business advisory support to 19 women-led businesses from across the country. Out of those, seven businesses were selected after a competitive process to receive the investment.
This investment from Karandaaz will encourage the culture of entrepreneurship amongst women, enable these women-led businesses to grow and create jobs, and demonstrate that women-led businesses are a viable segment for financial institutions.
Joanna Reid, Head of DFID Pakistan said, “Women empowerment is at the heart of the UK’s work in Pakistan and through Karandaaz Women Entrepreneurship Challenge, we have supported women all across the country. I am delighted to see the growing segment of women entrepreneurs who are ambitious, innovative and dare to experiment for the growth of their businesses to become leaders in their fields. Economies will only thrive when women get the same opportunities as men. DFID Pakistan believes in empowering women and is passionate in achieving the goal of a prosperous and inclusive Pakistan.”
Joanna Roper, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Special Envoy for Gender Equality, said, “The UK government is committed to promoting gender equality around the world. Supporting women’s empowerment is critical to building stable and vibrant economies, and enabling women to reach their potential. I am delighted to see how Karandaaz is supporting women entrepreneurs in Pakistan, and I look forward to seeing more women participating in the economic development of Pakistan.”
Mr. Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz said, “Women Entrepreneurship Challenge is now successfully entering its third year and we will soon be opening the call for applications for the 2019 cohort. We are very impressed with the quality of applications we received this year and are confident that there are many promising women entrepreneurs across Pakistan who can benefit from this year’s program.”
Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Chairperson Karandaaz Board said: “Women’s equality and empowerment is one of the Sustainable Development Goals and is integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development. No development plan can be effective unless there is a focus on women. Commitment of all stakeholders such as policymakers, development partners and formal financial sector along with mobilisation of sustained and responsive financing options are key for the economic empowerment of women. I believe that initiatives such as the Karandaaz’s Women Entrepreneurships Challenge play an important role in highlighting and supporting the potential of women in Pakistan.”
According to UNDP Pakistan, there have been important advances in gender equality in Pakistan in recent years. Pakistani women today are more likely to participate in the labour force and decision-making, and access health and education services, than their mothers and grandmothers.