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A journey of Education, Empowerment and Entrepreneurialism

15/11/2022

Growing up in Pakistan, Shakeela Bibi - like millions of young girls around the world - was passionate about beauty. Shakeela though wanted to share her passion with others and dreamt of one day running a salon. She embarked on a long journey of education, empowerment and entrepreneurialism to achieve her dream.

Before she could open the doors to her salon though, she would have to overcome some tough barriers to entry. As of July 2022, only 1% of women in Pakistan participate in entrepreneurial activities compared with 21% of men. The female literacy rate in Pakistan is 48% compared with 70% for men, and approximately 22.5 million children do not attend school, the majority of which are girls; by grade nine (age 14-15) only 13% of girls are still enrolled in school. Financially, at least 82% of women in Pakistan are unbanked.

The good news is things are changing. There is growing recognition that the gender gap is holding back girls and women and the country's chances for economic development. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has developed a Gender Mainstreaming Policy that aims to promote women and financial inclusion in Pakistan. This policy was not yet in place when Shakeela embarked on her mission, but that did not hold her back.

Gain Confidence with the Help Family

Before starting the business, Shakeela needed to learn her trade. I'm based in Muzaffarabad, in northern Pakistan, the largest city of Azad Kashmir, but I took formal training at various salons with some other master trainers in Lahore.

These classes ran over different time periods from 10 to 40 days, in between and after training Shakeela was able to practice her craft on relatives, once they started appreciating my work, I got the confidence to start the business, she says.

Mobilink Microfinance Banks Financial Assistance

Shakeela has always been driven and in her own words self made . But like almost every other entrepreneur before her she was going to need help, financially at least, before she could start up her own business. Her friends and relatives could not afford to help her. So help would need to come from a bank. She reached out to a number of financial services organisations. I tried a few different banks, but some of the terms and conditions were not just difficult but impossible to meet. For instance, one bank required six months' worth of payslips, she says.

Things were challenging until Shakeela approached Pakistan's largest digital bank Mobilink Microfinance Bank Limited (MMBL).
LINK: https://www.veon.com/media/media-releases/2022/a-journey-of-education-...
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