Supporting Women Agripreneurs: Changing Lives and Communities

Pakistan's national statistics paint a picture of limited opportunity for women. Women have a literacy rate of around 52% compared with 72% literacy rate for men. In addition, there is restricted female participation in the workforce standing at 24.6%. Traditional customs and norms very often still restrict women to household chores, family rearing, with decision-making controlled by men in the family.  

So it is a pleasant surprise stepping into the remote and rural villages of Kunri and Khipro, and project areas in South Punjab, where we encounter marginalised women confidently discussing empowerment, education, and entrepreneurship. Witnessing them delve into topics like business growth, finances, and reinvestment is truly inspiring and just proves that the right support can help women to break archaic practices.

The British Asian Trust's Agripreneurs project has shattered preconceived notions about rural Pakistan and its women. With partners Standard Chartered Foundation, SAFWCO and Shirakat, in Sindh and South Punjab, Pakistan, we emboldened a different reality – one brimming with ambition and driven by empowered women. 

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Three years ago, many of these women wouldn't even speak to strangers. Today, they proudly run their own “karobaars” (businesses) and advocate for their work. One woman eloquently captured this shift, proudly said: "Back then, I wouldn't even talk to strangers. Now, I run my own business and speak openly about my work." Another declared, "My children can now get an education, something I never had. I'm proud to be helping them achieve their dreams." 

The project unfolded in two phases. Phase one focused on basic enterprise training, instilling the value of their work as legitimate businesses. Phase two expanded the programme, offering advanced training to existing participants and onboarding new women. This equipped them with the skills to scale and grow their microenterprises. The benefits are far-reaching and sustainable. 

The project fostered a powerful sense of community, and we witnessed this spirit extending beyond business. Previously isolated in their homes, women now collaborate in groups, sharing resources and knowledge, leading to significant cost savings. Witnessing their mothers become entrepreneurs, their next generation is also positively influenced. The children of this community can now dream big and be influenced by the possibilities of what women can do and are doing.  

The Agripreneurs project serves as a beacon of hope, not just for these villages but for countless others across rural Pakistan. It exemplifies the transformative power of investing in women's empowerment and education. When equipped with the right tools and support, women become not just business owners, but agents of change, uplifting their families, communities, and ultimately, the nation. 

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To celebrate the project's completion, The British Asian Trust, with partner Standard Chartered Foundation, arranged a successful event featuring a culinary demonstration by a leading chef using a variety of ingredients by businesses of women programme participants, as well as stalls showcasing a range of their other products. Looking at the beaming faces of our proud agripreneurs, we knew they’d continue making the best decisions for their businesses, families and communities. 

For more information about the project, please see: Agripreneurs phase II ( 

By Kamyla Marvi, British Asian Trust Pakistan Director