Saira Bano Bibi

Peering through the Kaleidoscope

PMIC stands with and provides continuous support and assistance to woman micro-entrepreneur who has been instrumental in turning around the financial fate of their household.

Saira’s husband had to shut down his thriving grocery store because of health issues, consequently Saira began to cut back on essential expenses, which meant immense suffering for her and her two children. They looked towards her husband’s family for support, but they did not facilitate them at all, despite the fact that her husband had helped them financially in the past. Saira started stitching clothes for some of her family members, but the income was barely enough to meet food expenses. To assist Saira with her stitching business, her husband would help by purchasing basic materials that she required such as thread for stitching, laces and buttons etc from the market.  This made her realize that there was a potential for setting up a small shop in her house to sell basic items needed for tailoring by women, as most women in her community had to rely on men to purchase things from the market.

At first glance Saira Bano’s small but well stocked shop feels like peering into a kaleidoscope full of myriad shapes, colors and designs. The shelves are well-stocked with inventory; some items are sorted by color, while others are sorted by size or category.  She saw this as an opportunity and discussed the idea with her husband, who was very supportive but told her that they needed capital for buying merchandize as having a well-stocked store was an important requisite for the venture’s success. Saira found out about PMIC’s borrower- Kashf Foundation and decided to visit the Kashf branch with her husband and was pleasantly surprised to find out about the minimal requirements for accessing a loan. Within a week she was able to get her first loan, which enabled her to start off with some essential inventory comprising of boxes of different colored thread and other raw materials required for stitching, all of which sold quickly. Encouraged by the response and seeing the demand for other products, she was able to quickly add more items, which she bought from wholesale markets in order to increase her profit margins.

She has taken incremental loans to add several new ranges of products such as laces, buttons, bangles, costume jewelry, cosmetics, and even undergarments. procurement options by purchasing high quality and yet affordable items from Haripur and Rawalpindi. A major USP for Saira Bano’s business has been her ability to provide a wide array of products to her mostly women clientele since she has expanded the business from a basic shop to a one stop store for women in the area.

The impact of Covid 19 and lockdowns on her business, left her income largely unaffected. In fact, while big retailers suffered losses due to forced closures by the government to control the spread of Covid 19, Saira was able to run her community-based shop on a daily basis and continued to provide essential items to women. With a keen foresight into inventory management, Saira’s shop was always well stocked and catered fully to customer demands.

Today, as a result of her business Saira has been able to send all her children to school, while her husband has been able to get back on his feet as well by establishing an electrician business. Together, they earn a significant amount per month, which is not only sufficient to cover basic household expenses but also allows her to save and reinvest in the growth of her business as well. Saira’s success highlights the fact that women entrepreneurs not only lead to greater employment opportunities within their communities but can also become avenues of change for other women by carving out new business spaces.