As an effort to alleviate poverty by empowering underprivileged families to set up their own businesses and gain economic stability, Seed Out, a local NGO working for the cause, held an event in Lahore to distribute projects worth Rs10 million to both men and women from Lahore and Gujranwala.

Among them was the distribution of 50 rickshaws in collaboration with Uber, for male and female drivers so they can start their own rickshaw service. Additionally, 27 other projects such as beauty parlours, tailoring services and grocery stores were also awarded. Each project costs Rs90,000 on average and funds have been raised by the NGO itself.

Highlighting the importance of financial empowerment, Seed Out Founder and President, Zain Ashraf Mughal, said: “Beggary is a curse and we need to empower the destitute and transform them into self-employed entrepreneur.”

Explaining his cause, he added, “Seed Out is the first interest-free microfinance online crowdfunding platform that connects donors across the globe to the potential entrepreneurs in Pakistan directly. So far we have established 250 small scale businesses through our crowdfunding platform for the people living below the poverty line.”

The NGO’s model also facilitates the families by paying for the children’s education and health costs of the micro entrepreneurs living in the targeted communities. The event invited all the families to receive their funds and meet with the fellow micro entrepreneurs.

Ms. Saima Sabir, an embroidery unit owner, said: “We are very happy. This initiative has given us the opportunity to earn our livelihood and have a better future.”

While Ms. Riffat, who was also awarded one of the rickshaws, explained: “With a business of our own, we will be able to meet our expenses with ease”, and Mr. Farrukh Javed, another rickshaw owner, said: “I see a better future for myself and my family. We will no longer be reliant on other types of loans as we can sustain ourselves.”

At the event, Uber General Manager Safee Shah officially signed an agreement with Seed Out for supporting extra income opportunities using the UBER app. After the signing, the micro entrepreneurs were given their funds and contracts.

The event concluded with a rally for the new rickshaw owners on Thursday, who drove the three wheelers across Lahore on five chosen routes, including Gulberg’s main boulevard, Model Town and Wapda Town among others.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2017

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