The Entrepreneurs Project

Undertaken from 2011 to 2014, this USAID and MEDA project aimed to raise the incomes of 6000 poor Women Embellishers (WEs) across Sindh by replicating and building on the learning of its Female Sales Agent (FSA) Model developed in the Behind the Veil Project (BtV).

Rural and urban poor entrepreneurs in Pakistan, especially women, generally remain trapped in a low value-add cycle, producing low quality products for local markets and earning meager amounts for subsistence. Typically, they possess limited knowledge and awareness of how markets work and are often exploited by more mobile, perceptive and monopolistic intermediaries. They also lack access to credit products and have little hope of reaching higher value markets. Given the significant contribution of the growing market for embellished fabrics in the Pakistani and global textile industry.

ECDI, created a network of 120 Female Sales Agents (FSAs) to reach out and engage around 6000 poor women embroiderers in this value chain. These FSAs purchased embellished fabrics from poor producers to sell to retailers, wholesalers, and other buyers in the middle to high-value urban markets. As part of these transactions, FSAs embedded product information, quality control and contemporary designs into their sales services to enhance quality and productivity, and strengthen the product offering. Additionally, the availability of contemporary designs was strengthened as FSAs purchased new designs from both formal designers and tracer designers to disseminate to producers. The resulted in a product that more appropriately matched the demands of middle-class consumers in Pakistan and resulted in increased incomes for poorer women entrepreneurs. ECDI’S primary role in the project included Community Mobilization, Training and Development, Networking, Monitoring and Evaluation, Creation of New Value Chain Actor, Market Development and Linkage Creation, and E-Marketing.