ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has called upon the business community and Women Chambers of Commerce and Industry, to establish linkages with society by launching corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects to create awareness and help in resolving burning social, health, and environment issues which, he added, would serve the larger good of the society and in turn would also increase the acceptability of their products and services by their customers, said a press release issued on Wednesday.

The president gave these remarks during a meeting with a delegation of the Faisalabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FWCCI), led by President FWCCI, Nighat Shahid, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, today. Vice President FWCCI Farhat Nisar and members of the Executive Committee of FWCCI were also present during the meeting.

The president called upon women’s representative bodies, NGOs, the women wings of political parties, eminent women and members of the civil society to play an active role to bring the idle women human resources in the business, trade and industrial sectors and alleviate them to the decision-making level. He said that our dream to make Pakistan an economically and financially independent country would remain elusive if we failed to mainstream the women population in the economy who made up almost 50% of the population.

Expressing his concern over the low level of disbursement of loans earmarked by banks for women entrepreneurs and women business persons, the President said that as per reports around 5% of the amount set out for the loans by banks had so far been utilized which, he said, was alarmingly low.

He called upon all the Chambers of Commerce, especially the Women Chambers of Commerce, to encourage and motivate women entrepreneurs and skilled women to avail these loans from designated banks by proactively helping them in the documentation process and managing other issues faced by the loan seekers.

The president advised the women entrepreneurs to approach Chartered Accounting firms hired by certain banks to assist business women in making bankable business plans and completing the documentation process which, he said, would help them in securing business loans on a fast-track basis.

He also expressed his concern over the low representation of women in the country’s Chambers of Commerce as well as businesses, industry and services sectors. He said that Government had introduced many business-women-friendly initiatives and had been encouraging women across the country to participate in business activities but so far desired results were not forthcoming.

The president regretted that even the Chambers of Commerce across the country did not have adequate representation of women as members and in leadership positions, which was alarming. He called upon the Chambers of Commerce to take practical and meaningful steps to address this gender disparity and encourage their female family members to actively participate in business activities. He added that Hazrat Khadija (RA) was a businesswoman and an ideal for women to follow.

He called upon the leadership of industrial and business establishments to create a secure channel for women in their areas through dedicated transport services and creating a harassment-free workplace to encourage the families to send them to work with full confidence and give women employees peace of mind to contribute their share in wealth creation for the nation.

The president said that the country had around 200,000 nurses at the moment against the demand of 900,000, this status, he added, had put a lot of pressure on our health system. He urged the private health facilities to set up training facilities for health providers, especially for nurses and advised the relevant training institutions in the public sector to offer quality short courses in combination with in-house, hybrid and online teaching modules to fill the acute gap between supply and demand.

He also advised FWCCI to encourage and motivate new entrants and the existing women entrepreneurs to avail training programs specially designed by Facebook and Amazon for business women to sharpen their business skills and use online platforms for sales and marketing of their products and services.

He noted with satisfaction that the breast cancer awareness program had delivered results as more and more women were seeking timely medical help for the early diagnosis of breast cancer. He urged the business community to play an active role to sensitize the nation about breast cancer through effective awareness campaigns about the disease.

Replying to a question, he said that the private and government educational institutions should devise a comprehensive and well-thought-out policy and chalk out implementation plans to regulate admissions in the institutes of higher learning and training institutions to create the right balance between supply and demand in any given sector.

Earlier, the delegation apprised the President of the achievements of the Women Chamber of Commerce and the difficulties faced by its members in terms of taxes, rising costs of the business inputs and the requirement of lengthy procedures of documentation while applying for business loans.—PR