International Women’s Day is a global celebration to recognize achievements made by women around the World and to support global actions needed to accelerate gender parity.
With the objective to create a more gender inclusive world, Jumpstart Pakistan has always facilitated Women Entrepreneurs in becoming responsive and responsible leaders.
On 8th March, 2017 through a meaningful celebration & targeted bold action JumpStart Pakistan celebrated International Women’s Day at DotZero Karachi. This gathering was well attended by Women Entrepreneurs. Among the invited speakers were professional women including successful women entrepreneurs who have created a mark in their respective industry and also women who are holding senior posts in various organizations and among the government.
The session started with President of JumpStart Karachi chapter, Eram Abbasi, introducing to the women the aims and objectives of JumpStart, how it is stimulating and supporting the startup ecosystem in Pakistan and how it is organizing various events in different cities across Pakistan.
Ms. Naheed Memon, who is serving as Chairperson at the Sind Board of Investment was invited as guest of honor. She is a role model for being a successful professional woman. She was the CEO of a public policy think tank in Pakistan, and headed it’s research and advocacy function. She is also a Director in her family owned group of companies based in Karachi; the core business unit, Kings Apparel is one of the country’s largest knitwear manufacturers. In London, Naheed worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch for a number of years. She was the Founder CEO of a management consultancy firm in London which serviced clients including PwC and foreign missions.
Ms Ayesha Fahad and Ms Sadaf Fatima both very prominent entrepreneurs who are successfully running their business were invited to share their success stories. Both the stories were an eye opener for the participants. The journey included success and failure phases, the support that they received by the society and people around them and many such interesting turning points specially how these ladies are managing their business along with family and kids.
Ms Ayesha Fahad, owner of Ashlamour and D2R brands narrated her journey from university days, where she initially was exposed to the concept of entrepreneurship and how she developed her interest to start her own business through participation in business plan competitions and exposure to organizations such as SMEDA (Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority) and initiatives like Shell Tameer. She took her first risk by starting a handbag business by the name Ashlamour. She herself used to design high end ethnic bags and get it made at low cost, using labor that worked remotely. At this stage she used to sell her product through various outlets. Later on she got married and due to the constant support by her husband and inlaws she continued her journey. Recently she has launched her second venture by the name D2R (Dream to Reality). This is all about Planners that are diaries with very ethnic and well thought out designs for women to plan their dreams ahead.
Mrs Sadaf Fatima, an engineer by education and an engineering consultant by profession was the next speaker to share her success story. Sadaf is running her engineering consulting firm with the name of M/S Sadaf Fatima. She narrated her story how, after graduation, she worked with a construction firm for a while which she couldn’t continue after her marriage. Due to her home responsibilities she started her home based consultation work. At this stage her former colleagues and university professors supported her in many ways including getting projects. She single handedly not only managed her initial projects but at the same time managed her house responsibilities alongside. She eventually rented a home nearby, dedicated top floor for office work, and gradually hired a team to deal with various projects by fulfilling all the job roles needed for success.
The major commonality among both entrepreneurs was that their families, including husbands, supported them well and their major motivation was the drive to be successful and respectable members of the society.
The participants showed great interest in the talks by the speakers. At the end of the session an open discussion was held where many recommendations were put forward to promote women entrepreneurs and help women play a vital role in the economy.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw an update on Facebook. It said a Skype session has been arranged with Jeffrey Archer at Liberty Books BBQ Tonight branch and it is a great chance for his fans to talk to him directly. Soon I saw event page being shared on out The Readers Avenue group and decided to attend the session. Despite the fact that I was tired from office, air conditioner wasn’t functional and needed to be fixed and I was still in the middle of downloading the newly released Watch Dogs game, I managed to take out time and reached the venue on time.
One of the best decisions I ever made.
The session was lightly attended, the dreadful traffic probably kept a lot of people away and that took away some of the charm of the event. I met Afrah and marketing team of Liberty Books, a pleasant meeting since we have made acquaintance over the past few months and it felt nice to catch up. Jeffrey was online right at the time and I easily got front row seat for the session. Jamal moderated the session and after a short introduction he asked Jeffrey to talk about his writing experience.
Jeffrey was animated. He spoke clearly about his experience as a writer and how his life events and knowledge provided the necessary information for his novels. The audience, although not many, asked him varying questions from his ability to write for multiple genres to dealing with Writers Block. He answered all openly and often humorously, leading us to fits of laughter when he declared he his God gifted and doesn’t suffer from Writers Block and would write forever till he dies. Since most of the questions were general in nature, Jeffrey didn’t go into unnecessary details about his writing. He talked about how he is closer to his first novel ‘Not a Penny more, not a Penny less’ than his other novels since that was the first and how he loves to write, particularly since he is a best seller. In fact, since he has been best seller so many times is the reason he still goes on writing.
Also, he doesn’t type but write by hand. His recent book has gone through 9 drafts and all of them are handwritten. It’s an old habit that is still a part of him and can’t switch to typing so easily. His past experience as a politician has had a great impact on his writing. Since politics is what he understands best, his novels also surround such themes and he is particularly fond of his current series Clifton Chronicles. His advise to all budding writers is to write what they feel comfortable about and have knowledge. For example Jeffrey said he has no idea about Pakistan, so if he writes a story based on Pakistan it will be a bad story since he has no knowledge of the country. There will be those who tell you there is nothing in you to pass on through your stories so why write, but don’t give up and continue to write.
Jeffrey had plenty to offer in terms of advise to the new writers for both reading and writing. The session ended after 20 minutes of conversation where Jamal did his best to successfully maintain the flow of communication between Jeffrey and his fans. After a polite good bye, all participants were upbeat and are excited about participating more in future of event of such nature. And hopefully there will be a bigger crowd the next time such an event would take place.
I was finally frustrated. The constant bad news, regular killings, frequent thefts and infurating talkshows caused me to snap and i decided to go out of Karachi. I have an exam coming up and couldn’t study for it in all the mayhem. I took advantage of this and left for Lahore to meet my sister and her family.
I stayed in Lahore for nearly two weeks, studying for the exam, enjoying the weather, going out with Lahori friends and enjoying the peace of Askari 10. I had a few deadlines to meet so it was my plan to return back by February 8. I went with an old buddy to get Airline ticket, my preference being PIA while my friend insisted on AirBlue due to better service and economical fair. Turns out PIA’s fair was cheaper so I purchased my return ticket and prepared to enjoy the remaining days in Lahore, not realizing that an ordeal was headed my way. Continue reading