WEXNET 2014 has been a great opportunity to meet and understand Pakistan women entrepreneurs. Almost 90% business ladies deal into clothing of any kind. No matter what area they choose for merchandising, finally they do add clothes to it. Thus, even the stalls of beddings, jewelry, paintings and other items had a hanger for clothes display as well.
They can amaze anyone with the fineness of their work, skill and confidence. They are open, honest and easy to talk to.
Regional traditional embroidery combined with modern seasonal fabric and cuts, traditional work as ajrak, chundrey, block printing, hand embroidery, gota work, embroided attachments, modern clothing, and even the blended Western clothes were available.
I spoke to them out of my curiosity. My questions were:
- Why did they choose clothing specifically?
- Don’t they think clothing is a saturated area of women entrepreneurship?
- Are they getting right profits in the tough competition?
- If No, then why are they sticking to the same profession?
Answers were very interesting.
Generally, the Pakistani women entrepreneurs said they opted for the profession due to various reasons.
- Lack of Education: Majority of women have never been to college. They are not educated enough to pursue a job. So, they started with their skills, the ones that can be acquired easily from their moms, relatives, friends and vocational training centers. Thus, they follow their natural talents available in the environment. It was easier to utilize those skills into businesses. There, they feel themselves competent and confident.
- Access to buyers: Whatever they design and stitch, can easily be sold within the circle of their family, friends, neighbourers. So, family and friends are not only their first buyers, but also spread the word about their business as well. The need for clothes never die out, especially in a society like Pakistan where people are very conscious about what they wear, what others wear and what people think of their wearing are kind of sensitive issues. This way, they keep their business rolling, even without having access to bigger market. Gradually, after being successful there, they step out of their homes and buy outlets.
- Women are Not Allowed to Businesses but Clothing: In KPK, Baluchistan, Northern Areas of and small cities of Sindh and Punjab, women are still not allowed to step out of their homes and work. However, clothing is a business which is acceptable. Here, they freely and comfortably interact only with ladies. And, men think, “Ok, they are pursuing their passions within the defined limits.”
- If they prove themselves, not only men but also the entire family and society come to their support.
- Pursuing their passions: Many ladies think they are naturally inclined towards dress designing and dress making. Their creativity motivated them to start the business. Initially, they get admired by their close circle of family, friends and acquaintances for their brilliant work. Later, they turned their talent into a proper trade.
- Helping the Poor via Conducting the Business
I got overwhelmed to interact with a couple of Pakistani women entrepreneurs who belonged to small cities and towns where people are too poor to afford a meal per day. So, being prosperous, they give work to those deprived people through either utilizing their local skills or by teaching them some skills as embroidery, cutting, stitching, dying and so on. This way, these entrepreneurs help the poor and conduct their businesses simultaneously.
Some of them let the new or emerging entrepreneurs to use their platforms to market their products on sharing some profit.
Answering my rest of the questions, they generally agree that now clothing is a saturated business avenue and they are not getting their right profit despite the tedious and detailed work they have to put in. Still, they are into it because somehow it is a profitable business. So, they are happy even with their low profit margins.
Almost all of the Pakistani women enterpreneurs believe that only their creativity, quality, and specialty are the factors that ensure good profits.
For many of them, their business is first their passion and then a source of earning. So, they don’t care even if they don’t earn huge. They are glad to utilize their creativity and pursue their passions.
For some of them, helping the poor is the main motivation behind their trades. They want to help the poor in one way or the other, no matter they earn slim returns.