PESHAWAR, July 9: Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday proposed that financial institutions give soft loans to women wanting to do business and that the condition of collateral be relaxed for such women.

The proposal is part of the ‘women entrepreneurship development policy for KP’ drafted by WCCI, KP and presented to the provincial governor on Monday.

Sharing the draft of the policy with participants of a function here, WCCI, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vice president Shamama Arbab said banks should begin financial literacy programmes to educate women entrepreneurs about business procedures and financial management and that for commercial loans, there should be a fixed quota of 25-30 per cent for women.

She said the draft policy recommended awareness and training sessions for women with the support of public and private sectors and that the government give women entrepreneurs representation in relevant boards to give them exposure of government programmes and opportunities.

“The setting up of entrepreneurship development centres across the province is also a must. We need support in the establishment of a unit in the chamber and one at the Governor’s Secretariat to educate women about basics and dynamics of business and the processes involved in setting up businesses,” she said.

Ms Arbab said a separate SME policy for women should be prepared to encourage women, while the curriculum on entrepreneurship should be developed.

The WCCI vice president said the policy had been drafted after focused group discussions with business community, financial institutions, parliamentarians, academia, media and youths.

Chief manager of the State Bank of Pakistan Tanveerul Islam, who was also in attendance, acknowledged that his bank had no direct loan schemes for businesswomen.

He, however, hastened to add that there were several other schemes to the benefit of women entrepreneurs.

Mr Islam said the Bank of Khyber had two schemes to promote entrepreneurship for women but they were not much successful due to slow process of giving loans.

He said there was a need for better awareness among women on how to apply for loans with banks.

President of the WCCI Nuzhat Rauf said the chamber had developed the draft policy to promote women entrepreneurship in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

She said the policy reform initiative for women was undertaken by the chamber with the financial support of Center for the International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a non-profit affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mrs Rauf demanded that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor help the chamber set up a research and development cell and include women in all boards to give voice to women at a larger platform.

She also called for help in the establishment of a cell for entrepreneurship of Fata women.

Adviser to the provincial chief minister and MPA Dr Mehr Taj Roghani, who was also present on the occasion, said there was a need for doing more for women than just giving them ‘thread and sewing machines’ symbolising projects aiming at vocational training only.

She said women empowerment was on the PTI agenda and she would support any such initiative, which made women financially empowered.

Provincial minister for elementary education Atif Khan said he would agree to any idea, which could help educate girls about business education.

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