Empowering Pakistan Entrepreneurs Project
The ENTREPRENEURS team led by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and J.E. Austin Associates (JAA) brought together the diverse private and public sector actors involved in micro and small enterprise development to address key constraints and create new opportunities for female entrepreneurs to market and expand their businesses.
The main objective of the project was to increase incomes/net sales of 75,000 micro-entrepreneurs by at least 50% on average, from the value chain/sectors that Entrepreneurs supports, by the end of the Project. USAID Entrepreneurs also contributed to livelihoods recovery in areas affected by conflict and/or natural disaster. More than 48,000 families (target 41,000) received livelihoods assistance in KPK, Southern Punjab, Northern Sindh, and other areas impacted by conflict and/or natural disaster. In addition, over 70,000 micro entrepreneurs (target 64,000) benefited from financial literacy training and access to loans provided by microfinance institutions working with Entrepreneurs. The targets and deliverables achieved under the humanitarian response were not only successfully achieved but also exceeded the planned targets.
JAA was responsible for leading the Marketing Component of the project and focused on:
- Providing marketing support to the four value chains (with emphasis on MAPs, Honey, and HEF) to expand market access and sales opportunities with a view to retain the market/buyer linkages established over the life of the Project and where possible increase market share within the targeted market segments.
- Creating and sustain market linkages with SMEs and private sector companies so that after the Project ends this private sector engagement ensures linkages are maintained with Project beneficiaries/Lead Entrepreneurs over the long term.
JAA’s work aimed at enhancing private sector engagement in selected value chains by facilitating the establishment of intermediary groups such as the Common Facility Centers and SMEs for HEF Value Chain and MAP and Honey Collection and Buying Centers. The Marketing Unit worked with the Value Chain Teams (HEF, MAPs, and Honey) to establish these Centers.
JE Austin structured four partnerships involving private sector buy-in for over US$194,000. Specific public private partnerships included:
- HEF (Home Embellished Fabrics) Value Chain: Linkages have been made with companies that are exporting Pakistani HEF products, such as Texlynx based in Lahore – one of the largest buying houses in South Asia –in order to connect women embellishers with national and international buyers as well as provide training and up-to-date information on market designs and trends, and roll out a brand name “Organic Stitching.” Out of the $77,000 project value, Texlynx provided $42,000;
- MAP (Medical and Aromatic Plants) Value Chain: EP project worked with a major MAPs export company, Herbion, who exported MAPs products from Pakistan to 22 countries;
- Dairy Value Chain: JAA developed two successful linkages between Milk Processing Companies and the Project’s dairy producers/clusters: Engro Foods (for Northern Sindh working with Engro Foundation) and Shakarganj Food Products Limited (for Southern Punjab working with Hashoo Foundation). An agreement with Shakarganj to establish locations and install 20 chillers at a value of US$180,000 was set in place.
- HEF Value Chain: The main hand embellished fabrics market for Project producers was domestic. In addition, linkages were made with companies that are exporting Pakistani HEF products, such as Texlynx based in Lahore – one of the largest buying houses in South Asia – with whom a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed at the end of December 2013 in order to connect women embellishers with national and international buyers as well as receive up-to-date information on market designs and trends, and roll out a brand name “Organic Stitching” which will be the face of the products marketed through Texlynx. The Marketing Component also established strong linkages with Gul Ahmed, a major retailer in Karachi, and from this relationship, a number of products were commissioned with ECDI and displayed at an exhibition in the U.S. to generate interest amongst buyers.
- MAP Value Chain: The existing MAPs market was local and regional. Entrepreneurs worked with a major MAPs export company, Herbion, who exported MAPs products from Pakistan to 22 countries. Developing quality standards was critical for exportable unprocessed or semi-processed MAPs products. Pakistan’s annual exports of unprocessed MAPs was worth approximately U.S. $5 million, mainly for Germany, Japan, France, Switzerland, Middle East, India, and South Africa markets. The estimated global market for plant-derived drugs was expected to grow at 10-15% per year. Consumer demand for brand name herbal remedies in standardized, off-the-shelf, formulations increased by 15% in the domestic market and 25% in the export market.
- Honey Value Chain: Marketing support was concentrated on setting up the structure for business development and order placement to occur, once the desired quality and quantity of honey was produced, at the end of the swarming season. There is enough local domestic market for honey, and promotional activities are now underway with Marhaba, Al-Shifa and Young’s Honey Processing Companies to place standing orders over the long term.
- Dairy Value Chain: JAA developed two successful linkages to date between Milk Processing Companies (MPCs) and the Project’s dairy producers/clusters: Engro Foods (for Northern Sindh working with Engro Foundation) and Shakarganj Food Products Limited (for Southern Punjab working with Hashoo Foundation). The relationship with Shakaraganj was a success story for the JAA Team, through an agreement to establish locations and install 20 chillers in Project areas to accommodate up to 2,500 dairy producers in Bahawalpur.
The results of the Project demonstrate that micro entrepreneurs can be successful when provided targeted support. Home-bound women micro entrepreneurs, the Project’s main beneficiary base were faced with cultural, social, and economic limitations, which create significant barriers to their full economic participation. The Project addressed these constraints, and now over 62,000 (85% women) beneficiaries have been assisted and are entering mainstream markets.