LAHORE - Entrepreneurship can be the major change agent, as it is an essential element to achieve the goal of poverty reduction. Besides, it brings empowerment. If we want women to be really empowered in a male-dominant society, we need to promote woman entrepreneurship. It is generally observed that women entrepreneur spend generously on their families because they are supposed to be more desirous to see their children prosperous, educated and healthy.

In Pakistan, woman is considered a symbol of continuous struggle. Especially in rural areas, women have to work hard. Unfortunately, these women have no recognition among the family members and society.

To get women empowered and to promote women entrepreneurship in Pakistan, the United States Agency for International Development provided countrywide assistance to thousands of Farmer Enterprise Groups especially women through the Agribusiness Project which started in late 2011with a $89.4 million grant to the Agribusiness Support Fund, a not-for-profit private sector organization.

In Jabbi alone, a village in the suburbs of Islamabad, a group of 32 women started their own pickling business, with a USAID support of $ 5,000.

The women from three nearby villages formed a Farmer Enterprise Group to start marketing and distributing pickles to local markets. Many of the women had previously made and sold pickles from their homes earning Rs 400-500 per month but with their new training and tools, each woman entrepreneur is now earning about Rs2,500 per month from the same business.

When asked what they would like to do with the additional income, they said they would reinvest it in the business. Some of them said they would use it for their children’s education and healthcare.

Similarly, at a small village in Balochistan, a solar powered egg incubator has enabled a 19-year old woman, to become an entrepreneur. Her newfound income is valued by her extended family and has allowed her to avoid an early marriage.

The Balochistan Agriculture Project implemented by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, provided women with an incubator which, “is simple to operate”: women only need to pour water into the machine to provide a humid environment in which to hatch eggs. After 21 days, when the eggs hatch, they get about 100 chicks to sell locally. The project has also coached women on marketing chicks.

There are thousands of women who are running their own businesses in remote areas of the country after getting training and financial assistance from the USAID experts.

But, there is a need to further promote the concept of women entrepreneurship at a large scale to get them really empowered which is necessary for a country to be prosperous and self-reliant.