Chamber professional development attendees at a session in Lahore in 2011. (Photo: CIPE)
2013 is a year to remember in the history of Pakistan. For the first time a democratically elected government is completing its five-year term. Although the country suffered from issues such as terrorism, corruption, and weak governance, the participation of women in the democratic process and economy has shown some improvement. For example, in general elections in 1990-91, less than 1 percent of candidates elected to the national assembly were women, a proportion which increased to 22.2 percent in the 2008 election.
Also in the last five years, women’s business associations got a voice in the country. Until December 2006, women in Pakistan were not allowed to form women-focused business associations. CIPE worked closely with the Ministry of Commerce to enact a new Trade Organization Ordinance with provisions for the formation of women’s chambers. The election of two women members on boards of city chambers was also made mandatory.
Now there are eight registered women’s chambers in Pakistan with an approximate membership of over 2,000 women entrepreneurs and business owners. As part of CIPE capacity building program, several workshops and consultative sessions have been conducted to help board members learn tools to ensure sustainability, increase membership, and conduct effective policy advocacy.
Last month Apple announced a new mobile device: a mini-iPad. With a long history of pushing the envelope, from the iPod to the latest iPhone, Apple is no doubt a standard bearer in terms of mobile innovation. But Apple, along with other tech-giants like Intel, Microsoft, and Google, are not the only mobile innovators out there.
Using cellar phones and hand-held devices as a platform, mobile entrepreneurship has opened up the door for many layers of entrepreneurship, not only in the developed world but also in places like Indonesia, Kenya, and Egypt.
Recently the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion on the opportunities and challenges to mobile entrepreneurship (available online). Experts Alex Counts, President and CEO of the Grameen Foundation; Mwangi S. Kimenyi, Director of the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative; and Brooke Partridge, President and CEO of Vital Wave Consulting; gathered to discuss barriers and opportunities to mobile technology’s use for entrepreneurs in the developing world.
At the lowest end of the economy, Partridge argued and panelists agreed, mobile technology is not only helping entrepreneurship, it is allowing entrepreneurship to happen.