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LADIESFUND® Entrepreneurship Conference

Pakistani entrepreneurs are truly making a national and global impact.  Dawood Global Foundation (DGF) teamed up with Higher Education Commission, Avari Group and Dawood Capital Management Ltd., as well as over 60 partners, sponsors and supporters to showcase seven of our country’s best at the worldclass 2nd LADIESFUND® Entrepreneurship Conference (LEC 2011) at Avari Karachi.  The audience was diverse and consisted of VIPS, top entrepreneurs budding entrepreneurs, journalists and enthusiastic university students.

LADIESFUND® was established in 2007 as an initiative to provide financial security to women and to promote and train women entrepreneurs. It aims to integrate the entrepreneurial needs based on the economic and social aspects of the local communities, with respect to greater women participation in the workforce.  Funds raised from LEC 2011 are all audited by Ernst Young Ford Rhodes Sidat Hyder and go toward LADIESFUND® Fellowships & Scholarships as well as women development initiatives.

The conference was moderated by Sidra Iqbal and started with a recitation from Talat Hashimi followed by a welcome address by Tara Uzra Dawood who spoke about the selection of an A-team of male and female panelists to inspire and interact with the audience.  She informed that LADIESFUND® was the nominating partner for Harvard Business School and All World’s Pakistan 100, USAID and had been invited to nominate women for Cherie Blair and Google Foundation’s virtual mentorship program, as well as to help shape the development of a Women’s Commonwealth Business Council (CBC).

She stated to Blue Chip, “Since the first LADIESFUND® Entrepreneurship conference, I am overwhelmed at seeing the response of women and youth of Pakistan. It is heartwarming to see that women of today are leaders and innovators and younger generations are excited to become entrepreneurs. We are continually delighted by the sheer volume of talented, successful women in our nation as well as their dedication to their families and work.”

This was followed by a speech from British Deputy High Commissioner Francis Campbell, who was the Chief Guest, on the importance of entrepreneurship in Pakistan and how much it will help to boost our economy. The Chest Guest also announced he would be personally and proudly informing the Queen aboutLADIESFUND®, LEC 2011 and the invitation to help shape a Women’s CBC.

Then came the first panel of the conference which consisted of Zeenat Saeed Ahmed (Taneez), Ayaz Khan (Okra) and Wajeeha Malik (Olive soap) and as a surprise for the audience Rohail Hyatt, the powerhouse behind the famous Coke Studio, joined the panel. This panel focused on the basics of entrepreneurship. They answered questions about the realities on entrepreneurship and what made them decide to be entrepreneurs. They talked about the nitty-gritty things of business like business plans, business partners etc.

When an audience member asked how to cope with the loss of friends jealous of one’s success, Hyatt spoke about the loss of some college friends when Vital Signs became successful and shared some profound insight, stating, “A little darkness cannot affect light but a little light can completely change darkness.”

Zeenat Saeed Ahmed too shared some words of wisdom with Blue Chip, “Be Creative and innovative, it is the uniqueness that attracts. For an entrepreneur, courage is vital; they need to go down the path that none has been to. People will always discourage you and it will be up to you to find your true path.”

The second panel comprised of Naheed Mashooqullah (architect), Hassan Sheheryar Yasin (designer), Naila Naqvi (Pie In The Sky, Chatterbox). They shared the inside scoop on how their brands tipped to become the best in their industries despite facing the problems that all Pakistani entrepreneurs face like electricity problems, human resource problems etc. They talked about expanding businesses and whether expanding through other people platforms or through your own is a better option. This was followed by a question answer session where the audience got a chance to ask those questions which they were burning to ask.

HSY drew many cheers from the crowd and advised budding entrepreneurs to have focus and direction.  He stated, “It is of paramount importance to brand oneself. When you become an entrepreneur you are in fact connecting with your customers and of course having good public relations gives you an edge over competition.”

Mashooqullah too was very inspiring, sharing challenges from her childhood and encouraging parents and teachers to celebrate individuality in children.

VIPs in attendance included Shafqat Sultana (President, First Women Bank Ltd.), Sheema Kermani, Ameena Saiyid (MD, Oxford University Press), Dr. Salima Ahmed (President, Business & Professional Women), Fiza Chaudhry (CEO, OCS), Zafar Moti (Director, KSE), Imran Azim (CEO, Habib Funds), Rashid Mansur (CEO, JS Investments),Rafique Dawood (Chairman, First Dawood Group), Yasmeen Peermohamed (Country Manager, Swiss International Airlines), Majyd Aziz Balagamwala (President, MHG Group of Companies), Nilofer Saeed, Sameera Raja, Kaukab Shabaz, Azra Ahmed, Pomme Gohar, Sarah Bilgrami Faruqui, Didier Boschung (Consul General Switzerland), Murat Onart (CG Turkey), Anwer Saleh Mohammad (Honorary CG, Chile), Giuliana Grandi (wife of CG Italy), and from the US Consulate Kevin Marakumi , Mary Vargas and Junaid Jay Munir.

The Securities & Exchange Commission had arranged a special stall for information on registering a business, First Women Bank Ltd. was a Diamond Sponsor and Khushhalibank ltd. and Nokia Pakistan were Gold Sponsors, KSE put up a banner in support and NAFA and HBL asset management companies placed adverts in the Conference Keepsake offering their services to entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs.

The extremely punctual and well attended event was managed by The Art of … Events with technical partnership from CIPE, Tea Sponsorship by Haleeb Foods and Public Relations by The Art of … Public Relations.

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