Women Entrepreneurs From Pakistan visit Arizona

Written by Susan Ratliff on March 5, 2011. Posted in Uncategorized

I was recently contact by the World Affairs Council of Arizona.  The WACAZ serves as the designated programming arm for the U.S. Dept of States International Visitor Leadership Program and arranges the professional itineraries for all the foreign leaders that come to Arizona.  They had a group from the Women’s Business Empowerment Project from Pakistan coming to the city and they wanted to meet with me to discuss my Women Entrepreneurs’ Small Business Boot Camp and learn more about the challenges and issues facing women business owners in the US.  I was thrilled to accept and it was distinct honor to meet and talk in depth with seven vibrant, intelligent, passionate, beautiful, inspiring and accomplished women business owners from across the world.

I was excited that they all spoke English and impressed with their extensive education and business accomplishments.  Several of the women had traveled extensively, but for most it was their first trip to America.  I invited Joel Martin of TriadWest and Kristin Slice of Three Dog Marketing to join me and we spent over two hours fielding questions from this inquisitive group.

They wanted to know about women in American business and entrepreneurship; Commerce in the U.S. exploring the industry from small companies to large corporations, in smaller towns and major cities; best practices in starting up and running businesses, support for female-led organizations from federal and local government, the private sector, non-profits, and academia, Challenges faced by women in the workplace: sexism, harassment, and the pay gap; changing attitudes and promoting diversity in the workplace. They were a savvy group involved in many diverse enterprises.

Nabeela is a clothing designer and would like to expand her line to include some Western style dress wear.  She launched a business incubator and works closely with the WBDC (women’s business development center),

Fozia and her husband developed Danbys Skincare, herbal cosmetics and skin care products and markets them world wide through the web.  She seeks distribution outlets and alliances with companies in the US.

Najma is the Gender and Enterprise Development Officer for Youth Empowerment. She brings knowledge of business and commerce to women in the rural, tribal areas of her country working who are developing small cottage industries such as handicrafts and honey production.

Sidra is the Chief Executive Officer for StatusPro. She produces, researches, and hosts media projects such as “Corporate Coffee” for PTV News, “KIVA

Ayla a professional financial services industry expert and the first woman broker at the Islamabad Stock Exchange and the first female Director on the Board of the Islamabad Stock Exchange.

Noreen has spent the last nine years working for Kashf, Pakistan’s leading NGO in providing micro-financing to women, and oversees a current program that has 30,000 female clients. Ms. Adeel is also interested in providing training for women’s rights and stopping violence against women.

Ambreen has a silver jewelry and leather handbag business and markets though formal exporting channels. She would like to have introductions to companies that could help her import her products to the US.

One of the refreshing observations I made during our visit was that women business owners have the same goals and fears about business ownership and growth no matter where they live.  The most encouraging revelation I took away was that all women have burning passion for what they do, compassion for others and a common desire to elevate the lives and opportunities for success and self sufficiency for all women everywhere. I do believe, if given the chance, women could really heal the world.

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