After our pilot in Attock, we are kicking off with a new community in Kot Ishaq, Hafizabad District, about 2 hours from Lahore, where we will start with 45 girls and women, with potential to scale up to hundreds more in this district that has a population of roughly a million.
This partnership is supported by the M.H. Sufi Foundation, which owns 6 schools in the district, with plans to expand to 25. In this community, we will be working with older girls and women, who were never schooled, or dropped out early, with the mission of developing market-ready skills and imparting adult literacy.
The girls and women in Kot Ishaq currently earn an average of $1/day. There is incredible skill in the community, evident in the beautiful handiwork that is characteristic of this part of Punjab, and that was showcased to us when we visited the village in March. But a lack of market linkages and business skills means these skills do not translate to income. With documentation that women in developing countries reinvest 90% of their incomes into their families — children’s education, food etc — compared to 30-40% for men, money in the hands of women is a win-win!
Following our initial visit to Kot Ishaq, there is palpable excitement among the girls and women at being a part of BLISS and seeing their skills in the hands of women around the globe. We’re scheduled to kick off our first skills classes in Kot Ishaq on May 10th.
Big thank you to Mr. Pervez Sufi, founder of the M. H. Sufi Foundation, whose support is making this partnership possible. Mr. Sufi is also the Managing Director of Pharmagen Limited, the leading producer of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient in Pakistan, and an Acumen Fund investee. The business savvy that he brings to the table will also be instrumental in helping us reach larger markets with our products!