Defying Stereotypes

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More and more women around the world are breaking barriers to establish startups in various niches proving that entrepreneurship is no longer exclusive to men. Pakistani women are no different.

Meet Afshan Khan, a young woman from Peshawar who turned her dream of starting a business into reality. Afshan embarked on her entrepreneurial journey armed with a Master’s degree in Project Management intending to open a boutique for women. But the biggest challenge she faced was finding suitable packaging and branding options for it. While most would give up after a speed bump like this, Afshan decided to be innovative and turn it into an opportunity. She knew the problem and wanted to fill the gap by creating FastMove, a one-stop shop for all packaging and logistical needs.

(Afshan Khan in her office, Peshawar)

During the last few years, there was increasing demand for packaging products, as many businesses shifted from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to online platforms. To ease this transition, Afshan turned to Meta’s SheMeansBusiness initiative, a global program designed to support and empower women entrepreneurs to build and grow their businesses using Facebook and Instagram platforms. With access to resources and training sessions covering various topics such as social media marketing, business development, and financial management, Afshan’s Fast Move began accepting online quotations and pricing estimates for businesses and day to day customers. Despite being in a market that had little online business presence, Afshan now has clients from all over Pakistan and even abroad, with outreach extending as far as Kenya.

“Today, FastMove has grown by many folds and I am so proud of myself that I did not give up when my first venture failed,” said Afshan.

Another Pakistani woman who did not give up on her dreams is Natasha Oliver Dass, who runs Natx Collection by designing clothes for plus-sized women in the country. Natasha shared that she weighed 50kgs when she got married, but gained weight after facing a few health issues. As someone who has personally experienced the negative impact of body-shaming, Natasha knew how important it is to feel confident and comfortable in one’s own skin. She started designing and stitching clothes that suited her physique and made her feel good about herself.

(Natasha Oliver Dass and team displaying their designs)

This gave her the inspiration to launch a clothing brand for plus-sized women, to provide them with options that would make them feel confident and comfortable. Natasha believes that it’s not just about creating fashion, she also wants to promote body positivity and inclusivity.”

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