Tapping untapped women entrepreneurship
With the gradual patronage of society and the government, the culture of women entrepreneurs has started promoting in Pakistan. This segment of the society, remained literally non-productive towards economy in the past courtesy our social and cultural values, has too started proving its entrepreneurial potential. What the developed world has reaped in terms of national development and growth has an equal share of women entrepreneurs. Though the concept of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan is yet a new one but this could lead to growth of our national economy at the end. Fully cognizant of this potential, now donors, international public institutions, NGOs, private companies, charities, knowledge institutes and business associations are initiating policies to promote and develop womens entrepreneurship in addition to kick-starting capacity building activities. Working on these lines, even in some cases, women entrepreneurs contribution has proved higher than that resulted from entrepreneurial activity of men. The governments initiatives including establishment of Women Bank, women chambers for commerce and industries, cottage industry also speak volumes of its seriousness towards promotion of women entrepreneurial trends in the country. But with all this positive initiatives, women entrepreneurs still own and manage fewer businesses than men, they earn less money with their businesses that grow slower. This trend can be linked with many factors like improper business skills, lack of funds as well as confidence, absence of public/private institutions or non-conducive social environment. Sometimes, public and private incentives are misused and do not reach the woman unless she is backed by a man. Also many trade associations like ministries, chambers of commerce do not cater to women expecting womens organizations to do the necessary thing. But even then the trend is changing. Women across the country are showing an interest to be economically independent by nourishing entrepreneurial ideas. What is needed right now is an environment enabling entrepreneurship in rural areas, the policy makers should develop a comprehensive national policy for women by involving real stakeholders and its implementation should be ensured by provinces. The government must evolve appropriate policies to help women entrepreneurs. Networking facilities must be provided as well as adequate entrepreneurship awareness training should be provided using the help of local NGOs. An action must be there to discourage gender discrimination, ensure women empowerment for initiating small and medium scale projects, establish incubation centers and separate markets, enact relevant laws and ensure business subsidies, if the government want women, that constitute half of the population, to be productive towards national development.