(Ultra Urban Pro Poor Project)

Implemented in squatter and low-income settlements, in three adjacent areas of Golimar, in the city of Karachi, namely, Sultanabad, Sindhipara, and Aliabad, Tabeer was a one year pro-poor, market-led pilot to address poverty in 200 ultra-poor households in urban areas of Pakistan through capacity development in production of marketable products and creation of sustainable market linkages. The project aimed to test an approach to reduce the vulnerability of ultra-poor households by increasing their asset ownership and productivity as well as creating incomes to counteract income insecurity. The Tabeer model was an aspiration-inclusive approach for the economic strengthening of the urban poor in Karachi. The initiative sought to develop economic activities for individuals and households ranging from intervention and support services for strengthening livelihood assets, to bringing social and economic change that could impact the socio-economic capital of the poor households selected. The project operated at different socio-economic layers, working with both ultra-poor and very poor households, although individuals within those households which the project targeted were often unemployed and had no access to means of earning incomes. Tabeer built on the existing skill training efforts of the Social Welfare Board to both strengthen skill training and add entrepreneurship training for sustainable linkages to mainstream markets. A key strategy of the pilot phase was to seek out leaders from within the more entrepreneurial and mobile women who could become role models for the community and act as intermediaries and organizers for ultra-poor women producers.

The project was undertaken by ECDI with support from the Aga Khan Development Network, the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board and the National Council. As part of the project, six trades were identified for inclusion in the project and 211 beneficiaries were trained in ladies dress making, baby wear, straw products, fabric painting, tie and dye, and hand embroidery. In each trade, Production Group Lead (PGLs) were identified who managed a group of women producers within the respective trades. These leaders were made mobile and began acting as market intermediaries – receiving orders from buyers and distributing them amongst their women producers, while keeping a small commission. To ensure smooth functioning of the project, the group leaders were guided by ECDI to carry out three cycles of cooperative production under the supervision of technical trainers and were assisted in costing and pricing, negotiations with buyers, and also in bringing about creativity and innovation in their products.

Through the Asset Grant Scheme (Qarz-e-Hasna Plan), all 211 beneficiaries who attended technical training sessions received tools and equipment to start and continue production in their respective trades. 15 individuals have been developed as street vendors and are earning on a regular basis. After the adoption of a group production strategy, 43 group leaders were introduced to the First Microfinance Agency and First Micro-Insurance Agency. Moreover, 7 beneficiaries have opened their own training centers and 1 beneficiary has set up her own supplies shop in Sindhi Para. However, perhaps the most important achievement of the project is the replication of its model at Gulshan-e-Noor, where 25 beneficiaries have already trained in two trades. This bodes well for future expansion and/or replication of the model and indicates its lending itself to a relatively easy upscale.

ECDI’S tasks in the project included reaching the ultra-poor and targeting bottom billion, project design, community mobilization, market research, linkage and development, and training and capacity enhancement.