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How Tech Training Transformed This Woman Entrepreneur's Business in Pakistan

Pakistani woman wearing a gray sweater and black veil sits at a desk in a green office taking notes, smiling into camera



Digital tools helped Hina streamline her business, giving her the freedom to spend less time on work and more time with her family.

Thirty-four-year-old Hina Sadaf Butt has been running Anabia girls’ hostel in Islamabad, Pakistan for the past eight years. She now has three employees. “Running a business and a house simultaneously is very hard. I get very little time to sleep.”

Hina, like many women worldwide, faces the challenge of balancing family life with business. “When I started in business my daughter Anabia was only five months old. I wanted something that I could do without being far from home and give quality time to both my business and daughter,” Hina says. “Initially I faced a lot of criticism. Many people told me it is a very big responsibility, and I was too young. But as we grew and people saw our work, the place started to get recognition, then people were reassured that this is a safe place for them to send their daughters.”

“It is said that this is a man’s world, and it’s a common thought that a woman cannot do business, but I overcame this barrier and proved myself by running a business.”

As her work increased, Hina worried about her other duties. “Being a mother, I try my best to spend quality time with my children and be an active part of my family, but it’s not easy to do. Running a business and a house simultaneously is very hard,” she says. “I get very little time to sleep. I have faced many challenges as a woman. It is said that this is a man’s world, and it’s a common thought that a woman cannot do business, but I overcame this barrier and proved myself by running a business.”

When COVID-19 hit, Hina knew she needed to adapt and moved the hostel to a smaller capacity building because of the reduced number of clients. “We suffered a lot. There came a point at which we thought that we might not be able to stand our ground anymore. Yet I overcame the challenges and went on.”

It was during 2021 in the midst of the pandemic that Hina started taking part in the Ignite training sessions both online and in-person. The Ignite program, supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, unleashes the power of growth-oriented entrepreneurs to contribute to resilient, inclusive economies. The training covered business planning and management, financial literacy and management, entrepreneurial excellence and digitalization. The program transformed how Hina did business. “I have been running my business for eight years now, but I never managed things systematically,” she says. “After the training I realized that keeping a track record of all the income and expenditure is very important. While managing my expenses I started gaining a profit.”

Hina also discovered the transformational impact that digital financial tools could have on her business. “I have had a bank account for quite a while now, but the major issue we faced was that the clients in far off areas had no access to banks and they were unable to transfer online. This caused a big hurdle. After the training, I created accounts with JazzCash and EasyPaisa (microfinance applications) which made things very convenient for our clients as they are accessible in all the regions of the country. Because of these applications we were able to receive all the transactions from clients on time.”

“I think if women are appreciated and encouraged, they can perhaps achieve things which men cannot.”

Hina also learned about the power of social media during her training. “I had a Facebook page and a website before, but I wasn’t very active. After the training I realized that we live in the world of social media now. So, I got active on my page and website and started posting advertisements on different university pages. This way, new enrolled students looking for accommodation approached us through those posts.”

For the future, Hina’s dream is to buy her own property for the hostel, instead of renting. With support from the Ignite program, she hopes to apply for an adapted business loan with lower guarantor requirements. Reflecting on all that she has achieved in the past eight years, Hina says, “I feel very blessed that I am able to fulfil my responsibility of taking care of other people’s daughters. The feedback that I get from our clients makes me very happy. People often say women can’t accomplish anything. I think if women are appreciated and encouraged, they can perhaps achieve things which men cannot.”

Find out more about Hina’s business.

Hina - Girl’s Hostel

Hina from Pakistan runs a Girl’s Hostel and is supported by CARE’s Ignite program. She has proved her doubters wrong and is passionate about what women entrepreneurs can achieve.

The profile of a woman seated and looking to the side. She is wearing a deep purple headscarf.

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