She discusses women’s economic empowerment in Pakistan at all prominent forums. She spearheaded Pakistan’s first-ever Women’s National Business Agenda to lower barriers for women in business.
You can read her success story, hurdles and Solutions, leadership and working of Masooma Sibtain in her coming SuccessPedia Book.
Mesosoma Sibtain is a pioneer in Pakistan, an entrepreneur who is paving the way and inspiring other businesswomen to take on leadership roles in her country and throughout South Asia. In a particularly notable accomplishment, she was the first woman elected vice president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) in 2016, less than a decade after the country made it legal for women to start or join chambers of commerce. FPCCI is comprised of over 200 business organizations. Recently, in early 2018, Sibtain was appointed Chair of FPCCI’s Standing Committee on Women’s Economic Reforms. In this position and in her role as FPCCI vice president, she spearheaded Pakistan’s first-ever Women’s National Business Agenda to lower barriers for women in business, leading an unprecedented effort for the country’s largest mainstream business organization.
But the road has not been easy; it took determination for Sibtain to be able to advocate for fellow women entrepreneurs on a national level and beyond. Sibtain, who owns a fashion business that employs about 300 artisans, became involved with chambers in 2008, when she joined the South Punjab Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SPWCCI), now known as the Women Chamber of Commerce Multan Division. The SPWCCI was the very first women’s chamber established in Pakistan. From the start, Sibtain was an active member and aspired to take on a leadership role. However, the SPWCCI’s then-president refused to hold elections, preferring to maintain power. With CIPE’s support over the next three years, Sibtain advocated for good internal governance and encouraged the board to hold elections. Eventually her hard work paid off, and she was elected SPWCCI president in 2012.
That same year, Sibtain was selected as an early participant of CIPE’s South Asia Regional Women’s Economic Network program. In 2012, CIPE recognized that women in South Asia face systematic and institutional obstacles to accessing markets, finance, and capital, and set out to build a network of women’s business associations that could learn from one another and support one another as they take on deeply entrenched social and institutional norms constructed against women to start or grow their businesses. The network continues to thrive today.
Sibtain’s passion for leveling the playing field in Pakistan and advocating for gender-inclusive economic reforms is widely known. She was instrumental in boosting SPWCCI’s membership, which rose by 30% over the five-year period that included her presidency from 2015 to 2017. Today, the SPWCCI is entirely funded by member dues and other services the chamber provides—an impressive accomplishment for any chamber. The SPWCCI also successfully advocated to the State Bank of Pakistan, with Peshawar chamber, to lower the interest rate for export financing for artisans in Pakistan from 13% to just 6%.
Sibtain transformed her once struggling provincial chamber into a respected advocacy organization and a nationally recognized vehicle for economic reform. Due to that accomplishment and many others, she serves as a role model for women entrepreneurs in her country and across the region to successfully advocate for reforms that will allow anyone—regardless of gender—to realize their economic hopes.