According to the World Bank (2020), 62.84% of Pakistan’s population resides in rural areas which makes it evident that only 37.16% of the whole population has access to good economic opportunities. Add to that the marginalized gender, a rural woman’s chances of finding a stable income job or creating a revenue stream are, limited to none.
A survey conducted in 2015 had revealed that 29.9% of the rural population were women, a number which has likely increased overtime, making them a huge chunk of the population which is either dependent on others or has limited means to pursue any goals. On International Day for Rural Women, Nestlé Pakistan shed light on the Nestlé BISP Rural Women Sales Program.
Nestlé Pakistan partnered with Benazir Income Support (BISP) – as part of their Ehsaas program – and launched the Nestlé BISP Rural Women Sales Program in 2017 to provide
livelihood opportunities to BISP beneficiaries. With an extensive database at hand, Nestlé was able to identify as well as support these women to become breadwinners for their families.
Not only that, it helped in setting up a system which allowed further employment, creating opportunities of long-term prosperity. Operational in 24 districts of Pakistan, Nestlé BISP Rural Women Sales Program has enrolled 1800 BISP beneficiaries as Sales Agents. These women have generated sales worth PKR 97 million and each agent is able to make PKR 5000 to PKR 10000 through the program.
Rehana Bibi, a Nestlé BISP beneficiary, has been working with Nestlé since 2018 as a micro-distributor in a village near Pindi Bhattian. Not only has she become financially independent, she is also making financial decisions for her household: “The money that we get from these sales is being used for our children and household expenses and I am also saving up for my daughter’s wedding.”
The idea is ensuring that as a major part of the population, these women are a contributing medium for the economic sector. Apart from creating financial opportunities for these women, Nestlé Pakistan has also partnered with Akhuwat Pakistan – an interest-free microfinance program – and distributed micro loans worth 3.37 million in order to empower these women to run personal businesses.
Talking about the program, Waqar Ahmad – Head of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, Nestlé Pakistan & Afghanistan said, “There is no ‘magic bullet’ to women empowerment and central to this tenet, is the acknowledgment that long-term prosperity is only possible when women are provided a level playing field to achieve their potential.”
Despite limited access to basic education and technology, Nestlé Pakistan has ensured that the rural women of Pakistan find means to propel themselves and their families out of poverty. It has given them the confidence as well as the assistance to do better. Understanding that monetary situations impact choices, Nestlé Pakistan has tried to empower them financially.
The main premise of Nestlé BISP Rural Women Sales Program was to work for the upliftment of the rural women of Pakistan and put them on the path to prosperity in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of 3, 5, 8 and 17.