By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, Feb 24 (Diplomatic Star): Establishment of the sovereign women ministry would help to address the issues related to business women and encouraging entrepreneurs’ culture in the country is more imperative for sustainable growth.
These remarks were expressed by the President Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) Naima Ansari in an exclusive interview with Alliance News correspondent.
It is a pity, she said in Pakistan only one percent of entrepreneurs are women and that little participation of women were facing a myriad of challenges, ranging from legal barriers that prevent them from establishing a business, to lack of access to loans and financial know-how.
In many developing countries, she said the focus is on to build capacity of women entrepreneurs, ecosystem intermediaries, as well as investors in order to increase the investment readiness of women-owned businesses.
Replying to a question, she said “Training of the Trainers” program aimed at to build the capacity of Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) and to enhance their ability to support women entrepreneurs with investment readiness.
She said that this is a key ecosystem gap and is critical to increasing early-stage investment in women’s businesses in Pakistan.
Naima Ansari said that recently, Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) has launched a zoom training session with an aim to educate the business women associated with SMEs and about their legal protection of doing SMEs business.
Replying to a question regarding the power of policy making and legislation in Pakistan is concentrated in the civil and military bureaucracy and often when political parties come to power, they become instruments of the state instead of the people. How the public and stakeholders can be involved in policy and legislation, Naima Ansari said that through comprehensive dialogue, consultation with concerned quarters and seeking experts’ opinions on the matter.
She said that in the dialogue process one thing is quite important that is an equal participation of the members of industry, chambers, business community which would yield a better result regarding the formation of the policy and would help in its implementation at larger level.
She was of the view that the bureaucrats never know what the sufferings of a small businessman, what are the problem they are facing, only its true representation in the right forum would help to identify their problems and way forward to address them effectively.
To another query ۔ If the current system is replaced by a proportional representation of all stake holders in Parliament, she said that its important and vital step to ensure and introduce a balance trade policy in the country.
It would be the outcomes of the recommendation and inputs of well skilled, visionary and knowledgeable people including members of chamber associations, industry, economists’ business, trade and other associations representing in the Parliament.
Naima Ansari said the proposed step and concerned participation in the parliament will not only ensure better formation of the policy but also help improve governance, besides the representation of all stake holders in the legislation process and it will also weaken the feudal system in the country.
Replying to another question posed by the Diplomatic Star correspondent regarding What if the implementation of the policy is done through the associations and public representations of the concerned stakeholders instead of the bureaucracy, Naima Ansari said that this would enhance the trust of the business community and would help to bridge the gap between government and trade associations.
She said that it would be a more suitable option where all the stake holder or representatives of the business community directly taking the ownership of the government trade policy and ultimately would be accountable in front of parent association.
She expressed her agony over none serious attitude of the women members parliament while contacting them for a women SMEs function, she said mostly of the Member National Assembly (MNAs) switched off their numbers, they look not familiar or comfortable with public interactions and gatherings.
She said that most of the women members parliament don’t know or they may be having no knowledge about what are the real issues of women those doing SMEs in Pakistan, adding in this situation how one can think that they would propose a women welfare policy in the parliament etc.
Talking about the Tax collection and the government’s legislation on the matter she said that so far Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is doing great job in collection of Taxes by making proper legislation and introducing some innovative Tax policies to attract the business community maximum.
She was of the view that even though there must be reward and acknowledgment policy for those who were depositing a huge number of tax every year in the national kitty.
She said that a reward can be an appreciation certificate or few sweet words in their favor that ultimately would encourage tax depositing trends in the country.
Replying to another question about how to promote the culture of good governance in the country and can change in Pakistan be achieved through reforms or it demands a revolution, she said that bringing reforms in our institutions through an evolutionary process of settling things, besides keeping in mind the global scenarios are looking more imperative and unavoidable.
She said that reforms are the only solution to introduce a positive and progressive change in the country that can be witness in our social system.
For, successful reforms and its implantation policy, she said that It should be based on reward and punishment trends which would not only ensure the working efficiency of our institutions but also help to maintain and promote the meritocracy culture in the country.
While giving suggestion to improve further the country’s national policy about trade and industry, Naima Ansari said that involvement of the concerned stakeholder including members of the trade and industry association, economists and their active participation in policy formation would contribute a lot to further expands it for better results.
They can be involvement in the policy by conducting national seminars, workshops to deliberate upon the trade and industry policy and after considering, listening suggestions and recommendations of the concern stakeholder, one can (the government) easily prepared a trade and industry friendly policy, she remarked.
To another query about which method or process is right for public struggle and movement, she said that a comprehensive dialogue, lobbying’s and conducting seminars are the most sophisticated methods of public struggle for any cause and reason.
President IWCCI Naima Ansari’s profile
Naima Ansari is a founding member of the Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry. From a very young age, she has been working for women’s economic empowerment. She has trained over 5000 women and young girls in urban and rural areas of Pakistan.