Life StylePakistan

Naseem Akhtar and her story of resilience

The Kiran Boutique and General Store, owned and operated by Naseem Akhtar, stands out among the hundreds of male-run establishments in Sanghar, Sindh, near the Gul Shah Market opposite the Rehmat Shah Chowk

Aunty Naseem Akhtar, in her forties at this point, has been the CEO of her business for the last six years. She lives in a little community known as Chak 41, which is located around 30 kilometers to the north of the city of Sanghar. She shares a home with her husband, two of her daughters’ spouses, and three of her sons. Her oldest child is currently enrolled at a college of her choice.

Ahmed, her husband, was threatened after encountering discouragement and resistance, but he stood by her side. Ahmed helped Akhtar launch her firm in 2016 by selling an inherited property for 300,000 rupees, borrowing additional funds from a friend, and giving the whole amount to Akhtar. Akhtar began her business by offering ready-made children’s clothing and other retail necessities.

Nonetheless, she quickly realized that there was a sizable market for products aimed specifically at women, particularly those that women would rather purchase from another woman than a guy, due to the ease with which females can share their thoughts and feelings. Sanghar is not a major metropolitan area like Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad, or Karachi; hence, residents there are more conservative than in other cities when it comes to women’s shopping, which added to her obvious advantage.

Though the ladies like Akhtar’s wares, the male merchants in the market would prefer to see her give up and leave. Male storeowners often gum her locks, place trash in front of her store, and cut off her electrical supply, against which Akhtar stands tall and continues to work.

Akhtar, who only went to school until fifth grade, does a good job of maintaining correct books for her store with the aid of her daughter Kiran. Realizing the value of technological knowledge, Akhtar bought a cell phone and enlisted her daughter Kiran’s assistance in learning to use it to accept orders from consumers and share images of freshly acquired merchandise.

Since Akhtar’s youngest daughter Kiran is now a college student, her two younger sons are also attending college. Her eldest son helps in the family business; she has been nurturing a long-held ambition to open shelter homes all over Sindh for women and children who have fallen on hard times due to homelessness or other social injustices.

Akhtar provides a remarkable example for other women in tiny places like Sanghar to follow and begin their enterprises.

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