Empowering Women-Led Businesses in Pakistan: USAID, UNDP, and SRSP Launch Groundbreaking Initiative in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

March 5, 2024
Photo: Shahzad Ahmad/UNDP Pakistan

Peshawar, March 5, 2024 – In a significant move to strengthen women-led enterprises, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), unveiled an initiative aimed at nurturing women-owned businesses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the merged areas.

This transformative program is set to offer interest-free microfinance loans coupled with comprehensive business management training to 2,000 women entrepreneurs. Designed to cultivate a vibrant ecosystem, the initiative is dedicated to enhancing financial literacy, business acumen, and networking opportunities for women, thereby fueling the resurgence of local economies in the flood-stricken districts of Nowshera and Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The launch of the microfinance initiative for women-led businesses in flood-affected districts is a testament to our collective commitment to advancing economic growth and building a brighter future for Pakistan,” said Mr. Shante Moore, Consul General at the United States Consulate General in Peshawar, in a virtual address. “This initiative is not just a reflection of our partnership but also a step forward in our shared journey towards empowerment and equality.”

The initiative builds on the success of the USAID-funded FATA Economic Revitalization Programme (FERP), which has assisted women-led businesses through business management training and grants. FERP has been instrumental in broadening access to finance for Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises, and in creating avenues for better employment through financial assistance, workforce development, and business support packages. The program has also played a crucial role in assisting the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in formulating gender-responsive investment promotion strategies, enhancing SMEs' access to credit, and fortifying government service delivery through capacity building in monitoring and evaluation.


“UNDP Pakistan is committed to addressing systemic barriers to women’s empowerment by advocating for gender-responsive policies, promoting women's leadership across all spheres, and ensuring their voices are integral in decision-making processes,” emphasized Mr. Mustafa Mahmood, Assistant Resident Representative and Unit Head, Crisis Prevention and Inclusion, UNDP Pakistan. “True progress for any nation lies in empowering women to dream without boundaries and fully achieve their aspirations. This initiative to support women-led businesses marks a significant step in that direction.”

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's cultural norms and logistical challenges pose significant obstacles to financial inclusion, particularly for women. To address this urgent need, the SRSP has introduced an innovative solution: a locally developed village banking model,” stated Mr. Masood Ul Mulk, Chief Executive Officer, SRSP. “This model empowers thousands of women across the province, showcasing the transformative potential of tailored approaches in overcoming complex challenges.”

This initiative not only underscores the collaborative efforts of international and local partners towards economic revitalization but also highlights the critical role of women's entrepreneurship in driving sustainable development and social change.

### ### ###

Contact Details: UNDP: 
For additional information, please contact Ramsha Nadeem at ramsha.nadeem@undp.org or +92 (51) 835 5679

About UNDP: 
UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet.

Learn more at undp.org