Islamabad: Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has joined forces with Pakistan’s central bank to digitally empower 500 women entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The collaboration aims to provide training, resources, and networking opportunities to the participants, with the objective of advancing financial inclusion and fostering economic growth. The initiative, called “The Digital Bridge: Advancing Financial Inclusion for Pakistan,” was launched in Karachi.
SheMeansBusiness initiative in Pakistan
Beth Ann Lim, Meta’s director of policy programs, expressed gratitude for the collaboration with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBAF), and Demo. Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, aims to empower small business owners, particularly women entrepreneurs, by upskilling them in the digital space and helping them develop revenue streams.
This year, the selection of programme participants will be carried out by Demo, a consulting agency. Demo will choose participants from Pakistan’s export-oriented chambers and a pool of small business owners who previously participated in the initial phase of the SheMeansBusiness curriculum. The participants will be “equipped with the tools and techniques needed to succeed in the competitive online landscape and scale their businesses”.
Meta’s ‘SheMeansBusiness’ initiative globally supports women-owned enterprises in entering the digital economy. Since 2018, Meta has successfully trained over 9,000 women entrepreneurs in 51 different cities across Pakistan, with nearly one-third of them hailing from rural areas.
Digitally empower more women entrepreneurs
The launch event was attended by officials from Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce, Women Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and representatives from the telecom, banking, and business communities.
Sima Kamil, Deputy Governor of the SBP, emphasized the crucial role of small businesses in boosting the country’s economy.
She expressed the central bank’s support for Meta’s initiative to enhance support for women entrepreneurs and small businesses, hoping that the program’s knowledge will enable participants to access export markets and contribute to economic growth.
Riaz Chunara, Managing Director of NIBAF, stressed the importance of equipping small businesses with the essential tools and techniques to effectively leverage the digital space. By enhancing their advertising capabilities and expanding their customer base, small businesses will not only increase their reach within Pakistan but also gain the momentum needed to expand beyond borders, he said.
The partnership between Pakistan’s central bank and Meta is a significant step towards empowering women-led businesses, fostering economic growth, and driving Pakistan’s digital transformation. The project has already made a significant impact, with 9,000 women entrepreneurs trained over five years.
Some successful entrepreneurs include Nida Jaffery, who founded “Nashtay Walay” in Lahore, to deliver homemade breakfast to residents. Sher Bano established the first-ever tailoring outlet operated solely by women in Rahim Yar Khan. In Karachi, Bushra Shahid took her wooden crafts business online. Bushra said that participation in the SheMeansBusiness training program played a pivotal role in enhancing her online business acumen.