PUBLISHED Aug 22, 2021
The novel coronavirus pandemic has cost many people around the world their jobs. For some, however, that jolt presented an opportunity instead. They turned to entrepreneurship, starting small businesses and businesses to create jobs for themselves and others, and in turn to benefit several other businesses.
August 21st is World Entrepreneur Day each year to raise awareness of the importance and opportunities of entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. When we talk about why entrepreneurship is essential for a country, several reasons can be mentioned. From promoting social change to promoting innovation, great entrepreneurs can transform the way they live and work on a local and national basis. Many successful innovations result in innovations that can improve the standard of living and create wealth by enabling more entrepreneurial ventures. They can also create jobs and boost the economy.
The products and services that entrepreneurs create can create a cascading effect. You can encourage related companies or sectors that need to support their new venture, which will further affect economic development. Likewise, future development efforts in other countries will require strong logistical support, skilled labor and capital investment. Much of the economy benefits from entrepreneurship, from highly skilled programmers to construction workers.
According to the United States (US) Small Business Administration, 31.7 million small businesses in the US created 1.6 million net jobs in 2019.
Entrepreneurs are generally viewed as a national asset that should be rewarded, motivated and promoted as much as possible. Some of the most developed nations have become world leaders in empowering their entrepreneurial people with research and future-oriented innovations. It is for this reason that most countries and companies have developed incubators to build and improve entrepreneurial skills.
A Pakistani entrepreneur, Sadaf Mohyuddin, who started her startup in her kitchen called Skin Deep International (SDI), was able to spread her brand worldwide with the support of an incubation program called Standard Chartered Women in Tech (SCWomeninTech). . The aim of the program is to support women entrepreneurs with mentoring, business training and start-up financing. Given the enormous untapped potential for women in areas of technology-based entrepreneurship, this program was co-launched with several other countries in Pakistan.
Sadaf, a mother of two, believes the prevailing gender attitudes can lead women to feel like they are one step below their male counterparts. “I don’t think women are any less than their men. We just need the right guidance and support to reach our potential. It’s just that sometimes we don’t realize what we’re putting on the table that has the likelihood of going big, ”she said.
While telling the story of her startup Skin Deep, she said, “When my second child was born, I realized that women don’t have time to look after themselves after giving birth because self-care is not on their priority list stands. Even if the children have skin problems, which is very common, we end up using chemical-based products that are harmful to the skin. My son had dehydrated skin after giving birth and I had tried everything to overcome this skin problem, but nothing really worked that led me to explore this path. “
“In 2016 I went into the kitchen and started trying different combinations in order to develop the perfect product. That was the beginning. After that, there was no turning back and I have developed many natural products that are safe for both adults and children, ”she said.
Sadaf soon started her business on social media with the help of her husband, the co-founder of SDI. “I started selling what I made to my friends and family. I created a Facebook page and received orders worth more than 200,000 rupees within a few months with just 200 likes. There was no turning back, I was so motivated to invest more time and effort and develop my range further. ”She added.
After two and a half years in business, Sadaf officially launched the Skip Deep International brand to expand their business. Sadaf and her husband were the only workers SDI had, and as their children grew and their demands increased, it was not easy to give them enough time to do business. It was then that she decided to slow down her business. “My husband has his job too, so we adjusted the times. When I had a meeting my husband took care of the kids and when he has a meeting I take care of the kids. ”She said.
In 2020, as the world struggled with the pandemic, Sadaf got the chance of a lifetime. She got to know the SCWomeninTech and applied for the program. After the pitch and evaluation process, she was declared the winner of Cohort-2 and won 1.5 million rupees as a start-up aid. “That was the turning point for us. Not only was the financial support tremendous, but I was also able to improve my skills tremendously. ”Sadaf, who has a BSC degree in economics and an MPhil degree in international relations, added:“ During the mentoring phase we were able to develop our skills improve, build self-confidence and get to know the potential of our company thoroughly in Pakistan, but also beyond. “
After winning the scholarship, Sadaf worked on structuring her company properly before deciding to go global. It took her a year to set things up and then she started exporting her products from Pakistan. “From now on we will deliver our products wherever a courier service is available. This program made us bigger, better, and stronger. I would recommend all young women who want to become entrepreneurs to start small and then surpass their dreams with programs like SCWomeninTech, “she said, adding that you shouldn’t hold back, but pursue every idea because you never know how big it can be.
Meanwhile it is Khadija Hashimi, Head of Corporate Affairs, Brand & Marketing Africa, Middle East Region and Country Head Pakistan at Standard Chartered Bank, said of her program for entrepreneurs: “Our goal is to create more opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills to develop . The incubators are designed to address the gender gap in the technology sector and to use technology to address social challenges faced by communities. They are an important part of our entrepreneurship offering through Futuremakers by Standard Chartered, our global initiative to tackle inequality and promote economic inclusion. “
She further announced that SCWomeninTech was launched by Standard Chartered Americas in October 2014 as a local community project and is now present in nine Standard Chartered markets, with the Pakistan program kicking off in 2019.
Commenting on the success of the program in Pakistan, she said: “Nine out of ten new jobs worldwide are created by small businesses. By 2030, nearly 3.3 million new jobs will be needed each month in emerging markets to absorb the growing workforce. By focusing on women entrepreneurs in a market like Pakistan, we want to increase the participation of women in order to build a more gender and socially inclusive community. “
“Entrepreneurs often lack knowledge of basic financial management tools because they rely on their previous trial and error or experience in family business. Improved financial literacy can provide entrepreneurs with the skills they need to grow their business and contribute to local economic development. This is one of the cornerstones of our SCWomenInTech program. “
The Director of the National Incubation Center Karachi, Omar Abedin, told The Express Tribune about the opportunities for startups in Pakistan: “Only NIC Karachi has supported 170 startups with a turnover of three billion rupees and more in the past three years 100,000 jobs. But these are mainly the foreign investments that foreign venture capital (VC) investors have invested in the Pakistani startups, where local investors have not yet understood the concept of VC funding. “
Using the example of Bykea, who was part of NIC’s first cohort and has grown into a $ 50 million company, he said, “These guys were here three years ago and now they claim they have 100,000 trips a day. Airlift is another startup that was founded two years ago and recently raised $ 85 million in Series B funding. These are the companies that are made purely in Pakistan, ”he said, adding that NIC’s five centers have supported more than 500 startups.
Airlift – has secured $ 85 million Series B financing led by investors around the world and is one of the largest financings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region under the joint leadership by Josh Buckley (Buckley Ventures) and Harry Stebbings (20VC).
Omar shared that Pakistani startups have secured $ 200 million in foreign investment in 2021 to date. “You have huge potential. Our local investor is more interested in investing in construction and other investments, he doesn’t know the concept of VC. High potential startups need $ 100,000 pre-seed funding to grow their startup. While the small grants only help them run the company on the same level. You can’t bring about change or innovation with these small grants, ”he said.
Speaking of the influence of entrepreneurs on a country, he said that 80 percent of the US economy is run by these small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “Pakistan also has the potential, but the downside is that local investors are unwilling to invest in them. They either want the 90% of the equity or they don’t want to invest, ”he said.
He suggested a solution, he said, that there should be guidelines on this that require the big companies to spend one percent of their profits on the startups and that the government should also give tax exemptions to the companies that invest in the startups. “Not only will this help Pakistan grow, but it will create jobs for many and recycle the money from these startups to support economic growth. So the future of Pakistan is entrepreneurs, ”he added.