Enriching Social Ties Through Economic Empowerment

Fazeelat's temperament for sustained hard work, and her strong communication skills have been useful in keeping her motivated through the nascent stages of the business and convincing the community members in developing extensive trust in her beauty services, and beautician-training program. Fazeelat upholds the belief that "a person is nothing without hard work, because achievement requires commitment". She has utilized her communication as not only an effective marketing tool, but also for engaging with and training over 10 trainees that have helped meet her costs, and 2 employees that have supported her in various tasks.

Before Fazeelat start her beauty parlor, she had to face challenges in setting up her business and making it sustainable that were two-fold; relating to her family's disparate financial standing, and to the lack of receptiveness in the neighborhood.

Firstly, having being married off to person who couldn't match her parent's living standards, Fazeelat was faced with deteriorated living conditions, that were demanding of initiating a business, but not conducive for it. Her house was situated 5 feet below the ground-level, which made the place vulnerable to flooding from sewers, and unfeasible for attracting potential clients. Secondly, the locality that she lives in was not receptive towards availing beauty services, as the mobility of women had been traditionally restricted, reflecting upon the patriarchal nature of the society.

However, Fazeelat was able to start as a beautician by taking a loan and building her clientele. She was able to overcome many hurdles by starting with a small clientele that spread a good word in the community about her service quality and competitive pricing. Utilizing the meager profits to pay off consecutive loans and save for house renovation, Fazeelat was able to raise her house above ground-level. It was only after making the premises conducive of receiving clients that Fazeelat was able to increase her revenues and shift the salon to another building in the vicinity. After gradually breaking the stigma attached with women-run enterprises, Fazeelat was able to initiate an informal traineeship for girls, which not only raised her profit-margin and activated entrepreneurial spirit in other girls, but also prepared change agents in the society that silently propagate the economic inclusion of women.

The growth plan envisioned by Fazeelat for 'Bisma Beauty Salon' is to systemize her traineeship initiative and evolve the business into a beauty training center. She believes that to make the training center sustainable, she must be catering to a larger market, and hence plans to move the center to Lahore's upscale Wapda Town from its current location in Green Town. The feasibility of this relocation is tied in with the higher service and training charges that are paid by residents of Wapda Town, for which Fazeelat has conducted an informal market analysis. She is confident that with an initial investment of PKR 400,000 the beauty salon and training center can take root in the new locality, and increase her monthly revenue that will cover rent without having to compromise on her family's lifestyle.

Fazeelat's 'Bisma Beauty Salon' has been a source of socioeconomic uplift for her family, which was previously kept at a distance by their richer neighbors and relatives. The business generates over PKR 60,000 in profit each month, which is utilized for the schooling of 5 children, the eldest of whom is a girl pursuing her bachelor's degree. The family has also benefited with the restructuring of their house above ground-level, and with household consumables, ranging from better food items to luxury appliances, that were previously unimaginable.

Put together, the better education and living standards, made affordable by Fazeelat's business, have led to social elevation whereby the members of their neighborhood look up to Fazeelat as a source of inspiration, and their relatives include them in familial engagements. In Fazeelat's words, "the efforts that once helped her raise their house above the ground; have paid off by raising their social standing as well". Fazeelat has climbed the social ladder high enough to self-actualize her intellectual abilities and yearns to pursue a Bachelors in Arts from the Allama Iqbal Open University in future. Fazeelat's entrepreneurial endeavor has made tangible economic and social impact in the society around her, in terms of skills development, employment generation, and enterprise activation, which resulted into greater economic inclusion and enhanced social acceptance of women. The settings around her, which previously denied economic opportunities to women, have evolved through Fazeelat's beauty salon that paved an avenue for learning for young women in the form of traineeship program, and opened a platform for employability at her beauty salon, where she currently hires two girls. Fazeelat has also prepared beauticians that find lucrative jobs at other parlours, and have even gone onto initiating their own businesses.

"Fazeelat's success story"


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