KARACHI - The Federal Government has planned to establish 14 Women Business Incubation Centres (WBICs) across Pakistan through Public Sector Development Programme funding of Rs862.42 million, sources told The Nation. However, according to officials, the objective of WBICs is to promote female entrepreneurship by providing office space, conducive infrastructure and business development support. The Federal Ministry of Industries and Production is to be the funding agency, while Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) will be implementing authority for establishing of Women Business Incubation Centres in the country. The same project of Women Business Incubation Centre with a cost of Rs31.22 million has already been initiated in Lahore, official sources said, adding this centre is dedicated to support new start-ups and existing women entrepreneurs by providing them business management advisory services, infrastructural support and marketing guidance to promote women entrepreneurship in this region. The centre at Lahore has been a success story in terms of the benefits that women entrepreneurs have received through guidance, market access and capacity building. Viewing the potential of these Centres, the Federal government has planned to establish five Women Business Incubation Centres in Punjab, 3 in Sindh, one each in Gilgit and AJK, and 2 each in Balochistan and NWFP, sources said. However, another centre in Peshawar is also under implementation process which is also to be operational in next year, official sources said, adding that similar kind of women business centres would also be set up in other cities. The Federal Secretary for Industries and Production in its letter addressed to the Chief Secretaries of province concerned has said that since WBICs are not revenue generating centres in keeping with basic concept of assisting women entrepreneurs, it presents the problems of future sustainability as well as further replication of the idea beyond the project span. The Federal Secretary said that Ministry of Industry and Production is of the view that for this purpose, the facilitation and involvement of the concerned Provincial governments would be imperative. In its letter, the Federal Secretary further said the main expenditure for WBICs involves building rentals, and therefore, if the Centres could be housed in rent free buildings, preferably in the commercial centres, it would reduce the expenditures to a considerable extent bringing down the annual operational cost. The Federal Ministry also suggested that the Provincial Governments concerned should arrange space of rent free buildings for proposed Women Business Incubation Centres in Pakistan. The federal government believes that this project will provides an opportunity to join hands and work together for the capacity building of women entrepreneurs as part of a focused poverty alleviating strategy, letter said, adding that it Federal Ministry concerned would like to coordinate with the provincial governments with making progress towards economic empowerment of women.