The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has partnered with Meta — the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, and Whatsapp — to “digitally empower 500 women entrepreneurs and other high value small businesses”, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.
The press release issued by Meta said that the target would be achieved through providing training and access to resources as well as networking opportunities.
It further said said that the launching ceremony for the initiative, The Digital Bridge: Advancing Financial Inclusion for Pakistan, was held earlier this week in Karachi and attended by officials of the Ministry of Commerce, Women Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and other prominent members of the telecommunication, banking and business community.
Meta said consulting agency Demo will select the new programme participants from Pakistan’s export-oriented chambers as well as the pool of small business owners that participated in the first phase of the SheMeansBusiness curriculum in the country.
SheMeansBusiness was a Meta initiative launched in 2018 in Pakistan in which over 30,000 women across 51 cities, including in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, received training.
The press release said the participants will be “equipped with the tools and techniques needed to succeed in the competitive online landscape and scale their businesses”.
SBO Deputy Governor Sima Kamil said small businesses played a “crucial role” to boost the country’s economy, adding that the central bank was “pleased to support Meta’s initiative to empower more women entrepreneurs and small businesses and help them scale their businesses in Pakistan.
“We hope that the knowledge they gain will also help them tap into export markets.”
Meta’s Director of Policy Programmes Beth Ann Lim said the organisation was “committed to support the economic growth of Pakistan” by empowering small business owners, especially women entrepreneurs, by upskilling them in the digital space and helping them develop their revenue generation streams.
“We thank SBP, NIBAF (National Institute of Banking & Finance) and Demo, for the collaboration, and look forward to working together towards our collective goal of unlocking the potential of women-owned businesses and creating a more equitable society,” she was quoted as saying by the press release.
NIBAF Managing Director Riaz Chunara also appreciated the initiative and said it was important to “make sure that small businesses are well-equipped with tools and techniques to leverage the digital space so they can advertise more effectively and expand their customer pool”.
“It not only helps them increase their reach in Pakistan but gives them the push they need to go beyond,” he added.