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SMEDA launching Women’s Business Incubation Centre

LAHORE: The Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) has started setting up a Women’s Business Incubation Centre (WBIC) in Lahore to encourage them to launch full commercial ventures from private home based businesses. The centre, likely to be set up on Peco Road by the end of this month, will be the first of its kind in the country. It will be managed by women. There are 25 self-contained offices in the centre with air-conditioning systems, desks, chairs, storage racks, private telephone lines with voice mail, wireless internet connectivity, car parking facility, library, art/computer room, fax machines and tea area.

It also has a training hall with a seating capacity of 30 to 40 persons that would be available for group sessions and meetings with their clients. A display centre is also being constructed within the centre in which products of up to 10 enterprises could be exhibited at a time. Display supervisors will be present for 10 hours a day, six days a week. Project Manager Aisha Amjad told Daily Times that the WBIC was meant for women from diverse backgrounds reflecting a number of different types of women’s businesses especially dealing in manufacturing, trading or service sector. “But there is flexibility to accommodate novel business ideas,” she said. “There will be female professional business advisers to help the clients overcome any fears and barriers preventing them from turning their business ideas and aspirations into reality.”

A variety of training programmes, workshops, and seminars would be arranged at the centre, she said, to enhance the capabilities of women entrepreneurs and to give them necessary information, new business ideas and strong business links. The display centre was a unique opportunity for women to show their potential buyers the product quality and designs at Rs 2,500 per stall per week, she said, five times less than the market rate in the area. The maximum time period for holding a stall is 6 weeks and the minimum one week. “This policy is calculated to accommodate as many clients as possible,” she said, adding that the display centres would provide the clients a chance to assess the market demand, learn about quality standards and train them in dealing with their clients.

Offices at the centre would be available on monthly rent, she said. No personal guarantee is required, just a one-month security deposit. The rent for a medium office (10 offices of 250 square feet) would be Rs 12,500, she said, adding that the market rate was about 30,000 to 40,000. The leasing time will be from six months to two years. The single person offices (15 offices of 100 square feet each) will be available at Rs 5,000 a leasing period of six months to two years. The market rate is about Rs 15,000, she added.
She said it was a pilot project and depending upon the response it gets in Lahore, the project will be extended to other cities of the province. SMEDA had formed a committee that would ensure that the offices are let to the right people, she added.
Objectives of the Women’s Business Incubation Centre
* A secure environment for women’s business activities
* Providing business development services
* A platform focusing on economic empowerment of women in trade
* Exposure to networking opportunities and new ideas of business expansion
* Training women entrepreneurs for skill development and capacity building.
Source: Daily Times