ISLAMABAD (Pakistan) – The first-of-its-kind center for women entrepreneurs has been launched in Islamabad for those passionate souls looking to start a business or take their existing business to the next level. The WECREATE Center will advance gender equality in entrepreneurship and provide training, support, and mentorship for women entrepreneurs in Pakistan.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G. Olson, U.S. State Department Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Scott Nathan, and Additional Secretary for the Pakistan Ministry of Commerce Rubina Ather inaugurated the Women’s Entrepreneurial Center of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) in Islamabad.

Reinforcing the U.S. commitment to advance gender equality through entrepreneurship in Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Olson said,

“This center has enormous potential.  It will help women overcome some of the barriers they encounter in Pakistan and develop initiatives to increase opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to start and grow their own businesses”

US Ambassador Richard Olson and other US diplomats at the launch of Women Entrepreneurs Center.

US Ambassador Richard Olson and other US diplomats at the launch of Women Entrepreneurs Center in Islamabad.

“The center will  maximize public-private partnerships to increase women’s participation in the economy and implement community-based programs to spur economic growth and innovation.  The Center will offer mentorship, classes, resource materials, and access to a network of other women entrepreneurs across the country and around the world.”

The center offers a dynamic and lively working space for entrepreneurs, and is also equipped with a daycare center for kids keeping in mind the needs of women starting businesses who are struggling to balance work and family life.

 The center is supported by the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with StartUp Cup, TiE Islamabad, Change Mechanics, and the Hashoo Foundation. The Pakistan Center is supported by a $151,000 in-kind contribution from StartUp Cup, an organization that focuses on building entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world.

Launched by Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September 2012, the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council is a public-private partnership that links U.S. and Pakistani universities, businesses, and other supporters, to initiatives that advance economic opportunities for women in Pakistan. U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council will explore opportunities to facilitate the integration of businesses owned by women entrepreneurs, including those trained through WECREATE Pakistan, into the supply chains of companies operating in Pakistan.

Audience at the launch of WECREATE Women Entrepreneurs in Islamabad.

Audience at the launch of WECREATE Women Entrepreneurs in Islamabad.

Unleashing the economic potential of women is a powerful tool to drive economic growth and prosperity. Women entrepreneurs are integral to stable and thriving formal economies, but often face disproportionate barriers, including gender-based, cultural and social discrimination. WECREATE Centers are designed to be safe and in centralized locations where women can access essential resources needed to overcome these barriers and start or grow their businesses, according to the US Office of the Spokesperson media note.

The Centers will build the capacity of women business owners and support women-led businesses as they transition from entities operating in the informal economy to formally registered companies. Each Center will also tailor its portfolio of programs, tools and events to address the unique needs of women entrepreneurs in the country where it operates.

WECREATE Centers are currently in development in Zambia, Kenya, Cambodia, and Vietnam, with other Centers expected in the future.

Courtesy: Islamabad Scene