WCCI chief says government should grant low-interest loans to women entrepreneurs

LAHORE: The government should provide loans to women entrepreneurs with a six percent mark-up, Lahore Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Sam Ali Dada said in an interview with Business Recorder. She said banks should provide low-rate loans to women who want to start their own businesses so that they can also play a role in strengthening the local economy and reducing poverty.

She said that promoting women’s entrepreneurship is important for Pakistan’s economic growth and inclusion agenda, and access to financial services is an important part of starting and growing a business for women entrepreneurs.

She also said that, according to the report, 59 percent of women who are counted as microfinance clients, a significant proportion are likely not end users and loan recipients. Estimates vary, but between 50 and 70 percent of loans given to female clients can actually be used by their male relatives. The disaggregated figures are even more revealing. In urban programs that lend exclusively to women, only 28 percent of female borrowers, on average, used the loans themselves. In contrast, in rural areas, where both men and women are active clients, about 68 percent of clients were end borrowers. In addition, 90 percent of women have to ask their husbands for permission to get a loan, and 60 percent have to “urge” their husbands to repay the loan.

The challenges of protecting consumers and effectively reaching women entrepreneurs are probably not limited to Pakistan.

Sam said the Women’s Chamber is working on developing a draft policy to promote female entrepreneurship in the province. She added that the chamber had taken a number of initiatives to promote their businesses locally, nationally and internationally.

She also said the chamber is also planning to launch a special program to market the products of businesswomen by developing links with their colleagues in other parts of the country. She said the chamber provides facilitation services to women entrepreneurs as part of the “one-stop-shop” operating service.

She said the Women’s Industrial Park would be set up to provide space for skilled women who wanted to establish their business in various trades. She demanded that an international council of business women be established to promote local women’s crafts in the global market. She stressed the need for the economic empowerment of women. She called on the government to grant equal representation to women in decision-making forums and relevant bodies.

The State Bank of Pakistan has played a leading role in creating an environment in which microfinance can thrive and innovate and can now push the boundaries of awareness by setting standards for consumer protection from borrowers, transparency in gender reporting and discouraging discriminatory practices and policies. .

While insisting on increasing regional trade and cooperation among regional women’s chambers of commerce, especially China and countries in Southeast Asia, Sam Ali Dada said that SAARC is a regional organization created mainly to promote the well-being of the peoples of this region. Convinced that women, who constitute nearly 50 percent of the population, are the strength of South Asia, SAARC leaders stressed the need to integrate them fully into the mainstream of socio-economic development, said she added.

She also highlighted the initiatives taken by SAARC in the area of ​​women’s empowerment, with particular reference to the SAARC Social Charter and the Regional Convention for Women, and intergovernmental mechanisms, including the ministerial meetings on women.

The role and status of women has evolved rapidly due to increasing industrialization and globalization, supported by enabling social legislation and legal instruments. With the constantly evolving socio-cultural values ​​and the spread of education and awareness, women are increasingly engaging in professional activities, including entrepreneurship, said Sam Ali Dada.

Empowering women is a prerequisite for inclusive prosperity in society. As a result, both state and society are striving to lift the old taboo of not allowing women to get education, the necessary skills and the best professions with the best benefits.

Sam said that the importance of women entrepreneurs for economic development is widely recognized in developed countries, but that they lag behind in developing countries like Pakistan in terms of the number of women-owned businesses and access to economic resources. She also said that the role of women entrepreneurs has become more crucial over time, as they now represent well over half of the population. “Our women entrepreneurs have great potential and they can do a lot to transform Pakistan’s economy. It is believed that if they are given the right support and better opportunities, they can increase Pakistan’s GDP by 30%.

She added that it is essential to provide training for women because, having all the talents, a number of women are unable to stand out in the international market as they do not have a certificate from a reputable institution, a prerequisite for entering the global market. .

WCCI Chair called for strengthening the role of women in national economic development. She said that WCCI remains limited to Lahore, but now we have decided to expand our activities to other areas with a focus on empowering women. She said that Lahore is an important industrial, commercial and commercial center in the province and that WCCI plans to work with Lahore College for Women University and Kinnaird College for Women.

The President also highlighted the need that during education, students should have connections with industry so that they can be easily absorbed into the industrial sector after completing their studies. She stressed that the gap between industry and academia is huge in Pakistan and that the government should seriously work to close this gap. However, it is the responsibility of industry and academia to make serious efforts as future development is directly linked to the knowledge-based economy for which the industry-university nexus is a prerequisite.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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