How loans, networking and a motorbike ignited this Pakistani woman’s entrepreneurial dreams

March 6, 2024

Kausar Parveen, in front of MA Public School  in Multan, Pakistan, which she runs along with a clothing business, Mashallah Bazar. (Photo credit: Zeeshan Azam for CARE International Pakistan)

CARE, the global humanitarian organization, in partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, created Ignite, a program that unleashed the power of growth-oriented entrepreneurs, the majority of them women, to contribute to resilient, inclusive economies in Peru, Vietnam and Pakistan. Here is one of their stories.


My name is Kausar Parveen and I am from a suburb of Multan, in Pakistan. I am a single mother with two children who now help me with my businesses. I employ seven women in total.

I had been running a school for women and girls for 23 years and I had earned a good reputation in my community, but when COVID-19 hit I had to close the school.

I was in financial crisis and I had to find a new way to earn a living.  I decided to start a clothing business from home. At first it was very challenging as I hadn’t built up trust with wholesalers and shopkeepers. I also lacked good market links, so I couldn’t acquire raw materials at a low price, leaving me with minimal to no profit margins.

In Pakistan, it is hard for a woman to start a business on her own, as a male guarantor is usually needed to get a startup loan. As soon as the man is involved then financial control falls to him and the woman is left to do the work, which steals hope from women. I was fortunate to get a startup loan from a local organization, followed by a second loan of 100,000 PKR — $350 in U.S. dollars — via CARE partner Agahe

Agahe has also connected me to WhatsApp groups with other entrepreneurs from different parts of the country. This has helped with new business connections but has also helped me to grow creatively and develop new ideas. Through these networks I connected with a new vendor who I can buy fabric from in bulk, which has resulted in major savings for me.

The main thing that I have gained from the Ignite training has been confidence to grow as a woman. I also learnt a great deal about business management and bookkeeping as before I didn’t know how much I had earned or spent.

"People who used to tell me that business is not something that a women can do now respect me for who I am."
Kausar Parveen

The digital training has also been hugely beneficial to my business.  Previously I had been taking cash to buy raw materials, but now I use digital tools such as JazzCash and Easypaisa, which make transactions much easier. I also made a YouTube channel through which I market my products.

Delivering my products to my customers and moving around the city had been another challenge for my daughter and me. Usually in Pakistan, only men ride motorbikes, but we fought that stereotype. We get a few disapproving looks, but the bike has given us the freedom to go and meet with suppliers and customers.

Now that the pandemic is over, my school is back up and running and my garment business is doing well. My biggest achievement is seeing the women and girls from my school grow and go off to earn a living with their new skills. Next, I want to develop more technically advanced courses for my students so that we can help to build the capacity of women in our society. For the garment business, I want to open an outlet store. I also want to build a gym and spa for my daughter to run.

My message to other women thinking of setting up their own business is — be independent and confident, take the first step and the rest is easy, be consistent and the business will grow with time.  Keep your morals high, be patient and fight for your rights. Do not be suppressed.

People who used to tell me that business is not something that a women can do now respect me for who I am.

For a deeper dive into the impact of Ignite and to read more stories of women entrepreneurship, download "Unlocking the Potential of Women-led Micro & Small Enterprises: Lessons from Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam" here