Livelihoods in Pakistan

An estimated 8.6 million youth are out of work in Pakistan. With a rapidly growing population, young people are facing multiple challenges. Alongside this, the female labour market participation in Pakistan is low at 24% and only 1% of women in Pakistan are engaged in enterprise. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating floods, on those most vulnerable, has led to further loss of employment and income.

The problem 

Pakistan is at a pivotal point, set to become the fifth most populous country in the world by 2050, with a population of almost 300 million. Its labour market is projected to grow from 60 to 87 million by 2030, requiring the economy to produce 1.7 million new jobs every year. 


  • over 60% of the population is living in poverty on less than $2 a day 
  • slow economic growth means limited employment opportunities, and the labour market lacks the skills needed to fill vacancies. 
  • less than 10% of the 45 million young people will have the skills employers need by 2030. 
  • 8.6 million youth are unemployed 
  • rural poverty is rising, with marginalised groups and women excluded from agricultural and other livelihoods. 

Without support to establish secure livelihoods, these groups risk being further marginalised and falling further into poverty.  

Our solution  

Boosting employment opportunities for a fast growing, young population and increasing the low labour participation rate of women is a catalyst for economic and social change.  Our work aims to equip people, especially women and young adults, with the skills to secure jobs and become entrepreneurs. Our focus is on creating and supporting sustainable livelihoods, life skills and job retention, not just on providing people with vocational training. 

Our programme  

Our programme helps reduce multi-dimensional poverty in rural and urban households by providing vulnerable groups in Pakistan with access to skills and training to support employment and enterprise development.  

Our programme aims to: 

  • enable sustained and better economic outcomes for women and youth  
  • create a strong livelihoods ecosystem in Pakistan  
  • provide support to bring women and youth into the formal economy 

Key projects

  • Catalysing women-led enterprise growth (2022-2023)

    With support from Target Foundation, are supporting the growth of 791 women-led microenterprises in tier two cities of Pakistan to increase their business revenue by 15%, as well as improving the livelihood resilience of 3,176 vulnerable and marginalised women.

    Kehkashan WEE Pakistan, Saiyna Bashir (18)
  • Digital acceleration of youth-led microenterprises (2022-2023)

    With support from Citi Foundation, we are providing specialised enterprise training with a strong focus on digital skills, services and markets to 630 young entrepreneurs, helping to increase their revenue.

    Urban Youth Project; Jabeen's Story
  • Driving Women’s Economic Empowerment programme (2022-2025)

    With support from the UK Government’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, we are tackling unequal access of women to labour and business markets through training and job placements. This will support 4,241 women (including women with disabilities and transgender women) to have more economic independence and resilience.

    Sehrish WEE Pakistan, Saiyna Bashir (3)
  • Accelerating growth of youth-led microenterprises (2022-2024)

    With support from Citi Foundation, we are training 200 entrepreneurs aged 16-24 to grow a business so they can thrive, generate employment and increase income. We are also creating an alumni group to support young people and exploring systematic mobility barriers to accessing markets.

    Pakistan Urban Youth
  • Agripreneurs Phase II (2022-2024)

    With ongoing support from Standard Chartered Foundation, we continue to support 700 high-performing entrepreneurs from Phase I to sustain and increase their enterprise., as well as bringing on board 303 new entrepreneurs in high performing value chains such as fodder production and solar drying of fruits and vegetables.

    Women Fodder
  • Goats for Water project (2022-2023)

    With support from Halcrow Foundation, we are supporting an agri-tech social enterprise to develop a proof of concept by measuring the impact of communities purchasing solar pumps through a barter of goats on the overall livelihoods of households, particularly women.

    Halcrow Goats For Water
Former Pakistan Development Director, UK Government Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Annabel Gerry

There is real power to this project and the work that British Asian Trust and its partners are doing. The outcomes of the project aligns with the goal of the UK Government and the Government of Pakistan investing in women’s economic opportunities and a more inclusive education system. We’re hoping for more role models, replication and a ripple effect.”  

Annabel Gerry

Latest news about our livelihoods work in Pakistan

  • Gallery

    Agripreneurs project closing event with Standard Chartered

  • Blogs

    Driving Women's Economic Empowerment: Transforming Lives in South Asia

    SAK 7850 (1)
  • Blogs

    How we Created a Positive Ripple by Digitally Empowering Entrepreneurs

    Img 2035
  • Case studies

    Women’s Economic Empowerment; Agnes's story

    SAK 8029
  • Blogs

    Changing the odds - including disabled people in the work force

    Pakistan Livelihoods Disability Blog 5
  • News & events

    Brilliant display of local handicrafts by Kaarvan trained artisans highlights empowerment of women

    Brilliant Display Of Local Handicrafts By Kaarvan Trained Artisans Highlights Empowerment Of Women (1)
  • Case studies

    Women’s Economic Empowerment; Shahida’s story

    Womens Economic Empowerment Shahida's Story
  • News & events

    $200,000 Citi Foundation grant to help the British Asian Trust accelerate growth of youth-led microenterprises and boost women employment in Pakistan

    $200,000 Citi Foundation Grant To Help The British Asian Trust Accelerate Growth Of Youth Led Microenterprises And Boost Women Employment In Pakistan
  • News & events

    British Asian Trust launches Driving Women’s Economic Empowerment project

    British Asian Trust Launches Driving Women’S Economic Empowerment Project (1)
  • Case studies

    Mental health; Bushra’s story

    Mental Health; Bushra’S Story
  • Case studies

    Mental health; Irum’s story

    Mental Health; Irum’S Story
  • Case studies

    If I Can, She Can: Sadia’s story

    Sadia Insta
  • Case studies

    If I Can, She Can: Kehkashan's story

    If I Can She Can Kehkashan
  • Case studies

    If I Can, She Can: Noreen Khan’s story

    Noreen Insta
  • Case studies

    If I Can, She Can: Sehrish Kiran’s story

    Sehrish Insta

Past work

  • Women’s economic empowerment with UK Government (Punjab)

    With support from the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) to support women’s economic empowerment, we helped over 10,000 women access secure jobs or establish their own enterprises. This project has now closed.

    Pakistan WEE