Pakistan WE-NET & USAID – Women Leadership in Trade Policy

Pakistan Women Entrepreneurs Network for Trade in collaboration with USAID – PREIA (Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activity) organized a series of workshops on Women Leadership in Trade Policy in Islamabad & Karachi, in August 2018.

Women entrepreneurs were trained on formulation of trade policy in Pakistan, trade for women owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and how SMEs can market their brands internationally.

50 participants consisting of women entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors including gemstones, agriculture, textile & apparel, handicrafts and furniture attended the sessions. Both sessions had a diverse representation from women entrepreneurs from different cities including Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Mandi Bahaudin, Jhelum, Peshawar, Karachi, Hyderabad and Nawabshah.

The sessions started with a welcome note from Lubna Farooq, Board member, WE-NET, followed by Yasmin Hyder, President, WE-NET, who discussed the benefits of engaging in international trade and examined the current situation of Pakistan’s export market with accompanying challenges.

Roubina Taufeeq Shah Former Director (Admin), CPEC Centre for Excellence highlighted the impact of trade policy on SMEs and current challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. Roubina recommended measures to be taken at an individual level to effectively advocate for trade policy reforms. An advanced module on ‘Strategic Trade Policy Framework’ followed this session, which provided an overview of STPF reforms specific to women entrepreneurs. Roubina stressed on the need for women to educate themselves about trade policy in order to become effective agents of change.

Qashif Effendi, CEO Reem Rice and Member, Advisory Council, WE-NET provided guidance with regards to marketing and branding for international markets. Qashif provided an overview of Pakistan’s trade performance and with the use of case studies, illustrated the importance of branding when competing in global markets.

Lubna Farooq explored Trade Policy in the light of gender and highlighted Pakistan WE-NET’s advocacy with regards to gender mainstreaming in Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2018-23. The workshop also featured guest speakers who shared their personal experience of competing in international markets and how specific trade policies have affected their business. Guest speakers from Islamabad included Myra Qureshi (CEO Co-natural), Sapna Kavita Oberoi (Partner Oberoi Traders) Farzeen Irtazaz (CEO, House of Rani Emaan). The sessions were well received by participants who engaged in B2B networking and knowledge sharing during lunch and tea breaks. Participants expressed interest in more detailed workshops on trade policy. Women entrepreneurs received guidance and advice from one another regarding bookkeeping, marketing, branding, and access to finance.

The session closed with a group photo and certificate distribution ceremony.