#BridgingTheGap: Workshop for Artisan Women Micro-entrepreneurs
The Centre for Business and Society (CBS) in partnership with Kaarvan Crafts Foundation (KCF) and MBA Women in Business Club (WIB), LUMS organised a two-day workshop, #BridgingTheGap, for artisan women micro-entrepreneurs belonging to Multan’s textile sector. The event, held at the Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB), was generously sponsored by Syeda Henna Babar Ali.
Led by Dr. Misbah Tanveer Choudhry, Director,CBS and conducted by student volunteers belonging to LUMS MBA, MS Business and Public Policy, MS Supply Chain and Retail Management and MS Technology Management and Entrepreneurship programmes, the workshop focused on providing business and life skills to 32 women micro-entrepreneurs belonging to Multan. The aim was to mitigate the urban-rural divide and enable female micro-entrepreneurs to earn dignified livelihoods for themselves and their families.
Essential life skills including negotiation, communicating confidently, selling and persuasion, quick problem-solving and relationship-building were covered. Each student volunteer was paired with 2-3 artisan micro-entrepreneurs and were prompted to explore different ways of growing the entrepreneur's business by looking into issues such as effective book-keeping, quality assurance, reducing operational costs, differentiating the entrepreneur’s product, procurement of materials, accessing markets and diverse distribution channels and gauging demand. Most importantly, major sessions of the workshop were dedicated to connecting the entrepreneur to a digital platform, catalogue photography of their products and using Canva to curate customised logos and posters for their businesses.
What made this workshop a truly one-of-it's-kind programme was the concept of reciprocal sharing and learning. While the participating women micro-entrepreneurs benefited from an enriching learning experience from the graduate students from the business, public policy, supply chain, and technology and entrepreneurship programmes; the LUMS student volunteers, too, had much to learn from the unique journeys of these women micro-entrepreneurs who navigate tough business terrains, and attain success despite several socio-cultural and financial limitations.
The workshop concluded on a positive note where CEO of Karvaan Crafts Foundation (KCF), Mr. Danish Jabbar, presented Dr. Alnoor Bhimani, Honorary Dean of SDSB, one of the most meaningful and unique souvenirs; a piece of fabric (still attached to the embroidery frame), on which 100 women artisan micro-entrepreneurs had woven their dreams in colourful dhaga (threads). Shields were also presented to Syeda Henna Babar Ali and CBS' collaborating partners KCF and MBA WIB.