ISLAMABAD: Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) has arranged 54 pieces of training, seminars and webinars during the last six months (July-December) this year to provide invaluable skills to young entrepreneurs, especially women seeking economic empowerment.
These training sessions, usually one-day events, covered wide range of entrepreneurial aspects including, `Financial Management for SMEs`, “Social Media Marketing” “Selling on Amazon from Pakistan” “Digital Entrepreneurship”, “Food Safety & Hygiene Management in Food /Restaurant Business”, “Sales and Marketing Strategies for SMEs”, revealed statistics on SEMDA’s official website.
Regarding SMEDA’s role in women’s entrepreneurship development, an official of SMEDA told this scribe that the authority had formed a Women Entrepreneurship Development Cell (WEDC) to highlight the challenges women face and create a platform to optimize women’s success during the stages of business creation. According to the information received through Right To Information, WEs working with SMEDA have diversified areas of business and products that they deal in, including shoe making, handicrafts, embroidery, apparel, hospitality, confectionery and bakery, restaurants, construction, organic food, organic skincare products, dry fruit business, khussa making, basketry, pottery, dairy farms, beauty salons and SPA, health care, women gyms, daycare centers, home-cooked food, wedding planners, pulses, grains, spices & lentils and soap and candle making etc.
SMEDA has been tasked with an advisory role in the implementation of Prime Minister’s ‘Kamyab Jawan – Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme’, for young entrepreneurs and existing businesses.
It also formulates policy to encourage the growth of SMEs in the country and advises the Government on fiscal and monetary issues related to SMEs. For imparting complete knowledge about branding and its importance, SMEDA arranges training programs regularly for Women Entrepreneurs in the country in which, approximately, 1000 plus women have participated.
Sarah Babar, a Lahore-based woman entrepreneur dealing in bridal couture told this scribe that she started her workshop on the upper floor of her house and hired two craftsmen for embroidery and stitching. “I started this venture with an amount of 500,000 and a business model crafted by SMEDA.
I attended a few of their training workshops and discussed my idea with the trainers there”, Sarah told. She, however, said although these training sessions were beneficial, it took me rather a good amount of time to manage the business on my own.
“It was a difficult task to adjust my product in the given business model because I had to localize the product. I had to make my own marketing strategy which was a time taking process as I was new to it,” she added.
Sarah’s business had expanded in later stages and she rented a shop in Liberty market, Lahore where she is now selling her bridal dresses under the brand name of “Sarah’s Couture”.
“This whole project has amplified my confidence and my dresses, which were being sold in my inner circle earlier, are now being dispatched abroad as well. Many overseas Pakistani families love my work and order fancy dresses for their wedding and traditional festivals”, she added.
Another online entrepreneur Andleeb Khan dealing in beddings, shared her experience saying that selling items online is not as easy as it seems. “One needs a lot of patience to deal with so many issues from delivery services to customer’s trust and secure branding.
Being an online entrepreneur is not an easy job. However, during Covid-19 days, my business got into better shape as there was a lockdown and demand for household items increased manifolds”, she said. Sharing her experience, Andleeb said that applying for loans through Kamyab Jawan – Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme’ and seeking SMEDA’s help is a lengthy process and applicants have to wait for weeks for their turn to come up which is a tiring experience.
“They have a good system in place, however, it’s the long waiting process that makes the applicant frustrated”, she explained. She, however, said through SMEDA’s training, she got to know about the importance of bookkeeping and the importance of maintaining credit history.
“I did not have the idea that having a clear credit history was so important. It gives you a perfect idea of how a profit and loss business should be run”,