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Hard work is rewarded

Zaib un Nisa wasn’t intimidated by the crisis. She started her own business.

Hard work is rewarded

My name is Zaib un Nisa and I’m 35 years old. I come from Punjab province in Pakistan. Girls in our village are not traditionally encouraged to become educated or to work. Yet I completed a master's degree in Information Technology and a master's degree in Business Administration in Lahore, despite my family’s objections. 

I had been working in the human resources department of a company in Lahore for over six years, but then the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and the company had to close down for a while. I earned a good salary, and contributed to my family’s livelihood. But my income collapsed due to the pandemic.
So I started an online business selling traditional clothing. I sell abayas and hijabs. I searched for fabrics, and looked for sales staff as well as tailors and dressmakers. And I set up a Facebook page. In June 2020 I launched my online retail outlet called “Zaib Hijaab”.

An opportunity for success

I began working for the company again as the pandemic began to subside in 2021. At the same time, I kept on running my online hijab outlet. But I found it difficult to build my business the way I wanted.

I came across a course called “The art of selling”, which is organised by the Pakistani-German Facilitation and Reintegration Centre (PGFRC) and some of its partners. This 2-day workshop focused on marketing and public relations. I learned about communication, presentation and social media. I used to be shy talking about my achievements or my professional success, but the workshop has boosted my self-confidence. I’ve learned how to successfully market myself and my online retail outlet.

Here’s an example: The marketing course taught me how to identify what makes my products different from others. Abayas are usually only available in certain sizes, and in black or white. So I decided to design them in different colours, patterns, and sizes. My abayas also have a pocket, which typical abayas don’t have. These features make my products unique and increase their market value.

I also took part in a business development training course run by the PGFRC. There I learned how to produce a business plan. Now I know how to manage my online retail outlet efficiently. And it's worked: my business has been growing since I’ve applied what I learned.

Zaib un Nisa produces traditional clothing.

Important advertising, and exciting niche products

Since taking the courses, I’ve created channels for my brand on various social networks. I was contacted by a woman suffering from cancer who wanted to buy hijabs. She found traditional hijabs and hijab caps to be very uncomfortable. They make you sweat and they’re itchy, because they’re made from a cotton blend with polyester. So I asked around and found a fabric that is breathable, lighter, and more comfortable. I now use it to make hijab caps, especially for cancer patients who are currently going through chemotherapy. This niche product is a great success.

With the aim of reaching more people, I recently rented a stand at the four-day “Proud Women’s Festival” in Lahore, where I offered many of my products. It was a huge success: I sold a lot of my products, and attracted new customers.

What makes Zaib un Nisa’s garments special are their colours and patterns.

Being inspired

I still keep in touch with the PGFRC. I’m currently planning to expand my business, and would like to employ some sales and marketing staff. I’m designing my website and saving money to rent a shop in Lahore. My ultimate goal is to open more shops in other towns and cities.

I was really concerned when the pandemic emerged and I was left without any income. I’m so grateful for the support and advice I’ve received from the PGFRC to help make my online retail outlet a success. Today I’m confident that I can continue to be successful. 
Some of my relatives were initially opposed to me getting an education and working. Those relatives now respect and admire me. That makes me happy. I put it down to my determination and my hard work. Now they use me as a role model to inspire their own daughters to study and work. I’m happy that I took the opportunity that was offered to me, and that my family is proud of me.

As of: 03/2022

The opportunities for advice and assistance described here are offered as part of “Returning to New Opportunities”.

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I used to be shy talking about my achievements or my professional success, but the workshop has boosted my self-confidence.
- Zaib un Nisa

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