Digital acceleration of youth-led microenterprises in Pakistan

Why this is important 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters in Pakistan, the need for digital capacity and solutions to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and increase their resilience has never been more acute. These instances majorly impacted small and medium enterprises in Pakistan (particularly those led by women) and highlighted a huge necessity and opportunity for digital solutions across the economy.   

Moreover, the pandemic particularly also catalysed significant growth in digital access and use by businesses to operate, presenting an opportunity for micro and home-based entrepreneurs to access new or previously unavailable markets.  

Enterprise growth, particularly of women-led enterprises, has a multiplier effect by creating jobs and increasing incomes of employees and suppliers. In these changing times, it is essential to be innovative in enterprise incubation and digital-first solutions to enable young entrepreneurs to grow their enterprises through a specialised package of enterprise and digital marketing skills training and support. Enabling the youth to build up the broad array of skills, knowledge, networks and resources needed to grow a viable enterprise. The project is supporting women to overcome specific barriers they face that prevent their participation in economic activity, creating a more enabling environment for other women in their community as well. Increased individual incomes will also lead to an increase in household income and, thereby, increased capacity to access education and health care for them and their families.   

Project Partners: Assessment with Facilitation Private Limited (AWF Pvt Ltd.); CIRCLE Women


Project goals  

This project builds on the British Asian Trust’s stand in the development sector to support Pakistan’s post-COVID recovery by strengthening the livelihoods of young people and contributing to the growth of the digital business landscape in Pakistan. This project particularly focuses on young women entrepreneurs, leveraging our extensive experience and collaborative efforts with partners in empowering women in Pakistan by: 

  • Ensuring at least 87% of entrepreneurs in the programme are women, promoting the growth of women-led enterprises  
  • Developing a gender-sensitive skills programme, which includes digital and soft skills, that can be replicated across Pakistan 
  • Focusing support on women-headed families, widows and divorced women 
  • Creating women leaders to employ other women and act as role models, creating a multiplier effect, thereby increasing women’s presence and visibility in the workforce 
  • Engaging with local communities to promote women’s involvement in entrepreneurship 

What we are doing

With the success of previous collaborative projects with the Citi Foundation, the British Asian Trust is enhancing the enterprise ecosystem, with a grant of $250,000 for young entrepreneurs (aged 16-24), in Pakistan by exploring the potential of digital solutions to accelerate growth.  

Through this project, we aim to change the behaviour and attitude of the community and indirect beneficiaries on the role of women through increased visibility and role of women in the workplace and society. This ubiquity will allow for a sustainable transition to economic empowerment and subsequent poverty reduction that goes beyond the singular precept of addition to monthly income and savings.  

The British Asian Trust is supporting trainings in cities in Pakistan that include Lahore, Khanewal, Multan, Sargodha, Gilgit, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Jhang, Hyderabad and Karachi. We are working with our partners, Assessment with Facilitation (AWF) and CIRCLE women, to ensure sustainable livelihoods and skilling of programme participants by specialist microentrepreneurship, digital marketing training and key stakeholder events.

Key outcomes of the project include:  

  1. Increase the revenue of 420 youth-led enterprises by 15% 

  2. Increase the incomes of 900 young people (the young entrepreneurs plus people employed by them or in their supply chain) at least PKR 1,000 

  3. Create 150 new jobs