Successful Woman Entrepreneurs

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 3:53:29 by
Roshaneh Zafar

When there is a will there is a way.  To make it in the business world, you must have the will for sure but you also must make yourself a way and do so against all odds.  Meet Maria Umar who can be a role model for all other women, especially for the Pakistani women to live up to their dreams.

As stated at Mashable “The glass ceiling is the ability to visualize getting to the top but not reaching there. In Pakistan for female entrepreneurs, you can neither see what it looks like nor aspire to be something you cannot imagine,” Maria Umar says. “It’s more of a cement ceiling here in our case in Pakistan.” Umar went from being a fulltime teacher to starting her own company. From being an employee to providing jobs.  She is a living proof to chase your dreams no matter what cost it comes at.  She turned the obstacles of life into an opportunity called The Women’s Digital League (an IT solution company), and today helps other women in Pakistan earn from doing tasks online.

Is starting an IT company in Pakistan a norm or exception? “It is a long-shot for anyone, especially bootstrapping it into something bigger, shows real grit”.  Says Fozia Khan a successful entrepreneur in UK who also makes her living from the Internet.  Umar mainly uses bid base projects from places like oDesk, which is an incoming client model. People list gigs and you try to win them. She can easily move on to outward model like, which allows you to create digital information packages, research papers and helps you sell it online.

Imagine if Umar was to create a package on “How to hire writers from Pakistan, or What should a print ready article from Pakistan cost you”? She would start earning from people like me, who have done these kinds of searches online and didn’t find much.” Says Fozia Khan. Umar is not alone; there are others who are breaking norms.  The world is changing and along with it comes the new breeds of female entrepreneur, who are challenging the conventional wisdom in Pakistan and around the world.  Women like:

Jehan Ara, President of the internationally recognized Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA).Marium Afzal, a consultant for World Bank and works with Provincial Government of Punjab in Pakistan. 

Social entrepreneurs like:

YAEL COHEN, PHILANTHROPIST and Outspoken founder of F*** Cancer, which brings edgy marketing to cancer awareness. Saba Gul, who left an American dream to go to Pakistan to Bliss girls living in low-income communities. BLISS is a fashion enterprise, a vehicle she uses to support less fortune women to dream.

More and more women are fitting into the roles traditionally associated with male dominated industries and making it their own. Women such as TARA HUNT a Canadian who is considered one of the top SOCIAL MARKETING AUTHORITY.  A true Online-marketing pioneer influencing the evolution of brands’ use of social-media marketing. JANE MCGONIGAL a GAME DEVELOPER. Yes you heard it right; she is a game developer who is the creator of SuperBetter, an online game with a radical approach to preventing and treating depression.

Roshaneh Zafar who had a bright career with the World Bank but decided to leave and live her own dream. She is the founder of Kashf Foundation, Pakistan’s first microfinance institution. She is a true role model who did it in 1996, when conditions were a lot different and harder than now. She started with Rs 100,000 of her own money and 10k loan from the Grameen Trust, and turned it into one of the world’s best microfinance institutions. When it comes to microfinance, small is the new big, Roshaneh now has more than 500,000 clients and provided more than $265 million in microloans and provides education, training, and employment opportunities to women in Pakistan.

Roshaneh’s interview published in Forbes she says, “How do we convince a woman to take loans, invest them in a business and then make financial choices to enhance revenue? It is because we have these challenges that we continue to do what we do. We got involved to change social dynamics, and this won’t happen without women’s involvement in the economy.  For us it is an imperative.”

Roshaneh Zafar  has already walked the path and women like Maria Umar, Fozia Khan, Saba Gul, and millions of others in Pakistan are set to learn from it and create their own destinies.

How women entrepreneurs can succeed: Seeing is believing, these women are the true herons, listening to what they are accomplishing – Gives hope.  From their experience you can learn; when it comes to business, money isn’t always flowing and you got to work with whatever you got.

If you were to ask any of these women, how can I make it also? I’m sure the answer would be “If you want something, there’s always a way”. I’m sure they all saw challenges, ran out of money or motivation at some stage and thought, ‘This is going to die’. Then they figured it out and made it happened against all odds. 

I’m working on a feature story on women who caught the entrepreneur bug.  Please get in touch admin[@] 

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