Facebook is expanding its women-empowerment focused initiative, ‘SheMeansBusiness’ to bolster financial inclusion and resiliency of women-led businesses in Pakistan. Implemented in partnership with State Bank and the USAID Small and Medium Enterprise Activity (SMEA), the program’s new component, ‘Business Resilience through Financial Education (BRFE)’ aims at improving financial management skills to enhance the resilience and sustainability of women-led small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the country.
The US Embassy Islamabad Chargé d’affaires Lesslie Viguerie and Deputy Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Ms. Sima Kamil virtually inaugurated BRFE at an official event, with a number of senior government officials and representatives of Facebook, Chambers of Commerce, USAID, Ministry of Commerce and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) in attendance.
Director of Policy Programs and Government Outreach for Asia Pacific at Facebook and Global Head of SheMeansBusiness, Beth Ann Lim delivered the keynote speech, shedding a detailed light on Facebook’s objectives of ‘SheMeansBusiness’ and the newly launched Business Resilience through Financial Education (BRFE) component in Pakistan along with other Asia Pacific countries. She said ‘SheMeansBusiness’ is operating in 21 countries around the world, including Pakistan and more than 1 million women have been trained in digital skills worldwide by Facebook and its partners.
Facebook piloted BRFE with USAID SMEA, targeting the alumni of SheMeansBusiness digital marketing training program.
The two partners have implemented the SheMeansBusiness program in Pakistan since May 2020, to enhance the digital marketing and financial literacy skills of diverse groups of female entrepreneurs from across the country.
In a video message, Chargé d’affaires Lesslie Viguerie highlighted that the US Government holds the economic empowerment of women as a key pillar of its development efforts in Pakistan and across the world and firmly believes that investing in women’s empowerment can help eradicate extreme poverty and build vibrant economies.
In her video message, the Deputy Governor State Bank Ms. Sima Kamil appreciated the efforts of Facebook and other partners for socio-economic uplift of women in Pakistan. She said it is crucial for women led small and medium businesses to achieve a degree of sustainability and resiliency through skill enhancement and access to finance.
She said initiatives like BRFE will enable and empower Pakistani women to enhance their impact in the process of nation building.
Sharing her thoughts, Beth Ann Lim said: “Financial education is crucial for sustainability of women-led businesses in Pakistan and elsewhere. SheMeansBusiness mirrors Facebook’s long-term commitment to supporting the economic development of women in the APAC region, with a strong focus on sustainability of women-led businesses.”
The event also featured two panel discussions. One with representatives of the Ministry of Commerce, State Bank of Pakistan, USAID and another with the graduates of the pilot program of BRFE.
The panelists discussed the importance of financial management skills for women SMBs with special focus on challenges and opportunities and exchanged ideas for fostering financial inclusion of women by overcoming the existing barriers.