The challenges and joys of being a woman in business: Hina’s story

Hina has been running a hostel for girls in Islamabad, Pakistan for the past eight years. Like so many women around the world, she faces the same challenges when it comes to work and balancing family life.

“When I started in business my daughter Anabia was only five months old. I wanted something that I could do without being far from home and give quality time to both my business and daughter. Initially I faced a lot of criticism. Many people told me it is a very big responsibility, and I was too young. But as we grew and people saw our work and we started to get recognition, [they saw] that this is a safe place for them to send their daughters,” says Hina.

Being a woman in business also comes with difficulties.

“I have faced many challenges as a woman. It is said that this is a man’s world and it’s a common thought that a woman cannot do business, but I overcame this barrier and proved myself by running a business.”

It was during 2021 in the midst of the pandemic that Hina started taking part in CARE’s Ignite program, which unleashes the power of growth-oriented entrepreneurs to contribute to resilient, inclusive economies in Pakistan, Peru and Vietnam. Hina took part in training sessions both online and in-person, which covered business planning and management, financial literacy and management, entrepreneurial excellence and digitalization.

“After the training I realized that keeping a track record of all the income and expenditure is very important. While managing my expenses I started gaining a profit.”

Through Ignite, Hina also discovered the transformational impact that digital financial tools could have on her business.

Hina runs the 'Anabia' girls' hostel in Islamabad, Pakistan. She sits proudly at her desk. CARE Pakistan Hina took part in business training though CARE’s Ignite program. Photo: CARE Pakistan

“I have had a bank account for quite a while now, but the major issue we faced was that the clients in far off areas had no access to banks and they were unable to transfer online. This was a huge challenge. After the training, I created microfinance applications accounts which made things very convenient for our clients as they are accessible in all the regions of the country. Because of these applications we were able to receive all the transactions from clients on time.”

Hina also learned about the power of social media during her training.

“I had a Facebook page and a website before, but I wasn’t very active. After the training I realized that we live in the world of social media now. So I got active on my page and website and started posting advertisements on different university pages. Newly enrolled students looking for accommodation approached us through those posts.”

For the future, Hina’s dream is to buy her own property for the hostel instead of renting. With support from the Ignite program, she hopes to apply for an adapted business loan with lower guarantor requirements.

“I feel very blessed that I am able to fulfil my responsibility of taking care of other people’s daughters. The feedback that I get from our clients makes me very happy. People often say women can’t accomplish anything. I think if women are appreciated and encouraged, they can perhaps achieve things which men cannot.”

You can invest in and empower women like Hina to realize their dreams and lead change for themselves, their families and communities.

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