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Govt to set up poverty alleviation ministry, says PM’s adviser

Updated March 13, 2019

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Naeemul Haque says the initiative, titled 'Ehsaas', is for the "poor of the country". — Online/File
Naeemul Haque says the initiative, titled 'Ehsaas', is for the "poor of the country". — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque announced on Tuesday that the government will be setting up a ministry of poverty alleviation under a programme titled ‘Ehsaas’.

Speaking at the 13th Citi-PPAF Microentrepreneurship Awards, Mr Haque added: “This initiative is for the poor of the country, many of whom are afraid to walk into public and private institutions to seek help to alleviate their economic problems.”

The ceremony was held to celebrate microentrepreneurs across the country and raise awareness of the impact of small business on communities and economies.

13th microentrepreneurship awards held

Mr Haque said: “The ruling class has created a society for itself which protects its own socioeconomic interest that ignores those of the poor. I believe the present economic, political and social system in Pakistan does not offer solutions to the problems it has created. We want to completely change the face of our society. We know the poor have been denied the benefits of this wealth.”

State Bank (SBP) Deputy Governor Jamil Ahmed delivered the keynote address, during which he shared SBP initiatives to expand financial inclusion.

There were 36 entrepreneurs present at the ceremony along with their loan officers. Over the past four days, they have shared the stories of their businesses, their aspirations and their struggle.

One such entrepreneur spoke about running a samosa shop to support her family, while another explained how she managed her husband’s electrician business.

The participants were reflective and displayed a deep understanding of their work as well as a desire to expand their careers.

One of the stories that stood out was that of Asia Nargis, who was married young but continued to study, eventually participating in a marketing course while also working as a teacher.

When her husband died, Ms Nargis became the sole breadwinner for her family. She opened a school after selling her jewellery and taking a loan from one of the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund’s (PPAF) partner organisations.

Another inspiring story was that of Saima Kawal from Layyah. A high-achieving student in school and then in Punjab College, where she studied under a scholarship, Ms Kawal was unable to pursue her goal to become an athlete due to a lack of resources.

She realised she would not be able to pay for her BSc in Agriculture, prompting her to start a poultry farm with a loan under the Prime Minister’s Interest Free Loan Scheme, a PPAF partner.

Ms Kawal spoke about being frequently discouraged from risk-taking behaviour but persevering to provide for her education and for her family.

She said her business was doing well because she has desi chickens, unlike everyone else in town. She sells around three dozens eggs a day, making a profit of Rs7,000 per month. She said she plans to pursue a Masters degree, work with layer farming and open her own hatchery.

PPAF CEO Qazi Azmat Isa said the fund has recognised more than 450 microentrepreneurs for their work in the last 13 years, in addition to providing more than 1,200 individuals with skills training.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2019