Gender and Social Entrepreneurship Workshop in Pakistan


The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in collaboration with the Hashoo Foundation (HF) and Seplaa Enterprises (SE), organized a workshop on gender and social entrepreneurship on 10 August 2017 in Pakistan. The one-day workshop sought to explore collaborative means of addressing water, food, and energy issues emerging from climatic and socioeconomic stressors in the Upper Indus through gender and social entrepreneurship. The main aim was to enhance partners’ knowledge of issues related to gender and climate change in the Upper Indus Basin, bring clarity to the concept of social enterprise, and foster a broad understanding of the mode of action research to be employed.

Photo: Participants of the workshop

Hashoo Foundation has worked extensively in the Upper Indus region over the past 30 years on gender and social development issues. Livelihood support activities such as the promotion of female entrepreneurship through honey bee farming and local handicrafts, trainings on hospitality management for youth, scholarships for disadvantaged youth from mountain areas, and  engagement in  disaster relief activities are some flagship activities conducted by Hashoo Foundation in the Upper Indus, specifically Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkwa. Similarly, Seplaa Enterprises has been promoting social enterprise to address social problems faced by the youth and the underprivileged in relation to conflict management and green solutions in the Lower Indus Basin. 

Acknowledging the experiences and strengths of all partners, the workshop sought to enhance mutual understanding among partner organizations and to explore a way forward. The core objective of the first face-to-face meeting was to explore the partnership between ICIMOD, Hashoo Foundation, and Seplaa Enterprises to prepare a conceptual framework for action research to address gender issues in the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) through social enterprise from 2017 to 2020 in the Upper Indus.

Ayesha Khan, Country Director, Hashoo Foundation

Arun Bhakta Shrestha, Regional Programme Manager, River Basins, ICIMOD welcomed the participants. Pranita Bhushan Udas, Gender, Water, and Adaptation Specialist, Livelihoods, ICIMOD shared the objectives of the workshop with all those present. Experts from Hashoo Foundation made presentations introducing issues related to gender and climate change in the Upper Indus and HF working areas. Experts from SE introduced SE engagement on social enterprise and the methodology followed, and highlighted the need for integrating a business module in the design of a social enterprise with the clear objective of addressing social problems. ICIMOD presented a brief discussion on social entrepreneurship based on literature review to facilitate discussions on the way forward in the Upper Indus. 

Ammara Farooq, Founder, Seplaa Enterprises

The team discussed ways to explore partnerships with Karakoram University, the Department of Environmental Science so that the university might serve as an incubator for social enterprises. Students at the university may be able to work in peer groups with community members following social enterprise ethics and values to address gender problems emerging from climatic stressors either in HF work areas or in ICIMOD pilot areas. SE will provide technical support and HF will implement the project at the community level through its livelihood enhancement wing.