baSHAUR is an SMS-based tool that connects microentrepreneurs to the resources they need to make choices about their livelihood. The tool is built specifically for „necessity entrepreneurs“--people for whom microentrepreneurship is not a choice but a way to make ends meet day-to-day. With the right insights and resources, the 35 million women living under the poverty line in Pakistan will be able to more effectively channel their skills and abilities into long-term economic success.
Over 35 million women live under the poverty line in Pakistan, and many of these women are entrepreneurs.
We know from labor force research that many people become entrepreneurs because their focus on making ends meet day-to-day leaves them no other choice. This mindset, fueled by a scarcity of resources, creates “necessity entrepreneurs” who might have better economic opportunity in another livelihood.
In Pakistan, these women need a way to identify their available choices and a connection to the resources that would allow them to achieve their goals.
With better economic opportunity, women can invest in their families and communities and live more productive lives.
baSHAUR is an SMS-based connection tool that intelligently links women with the resources they need to pursue their chosen goals. baShaur starts an SMS conversation with low-income female entrepreneurs in Pakistan and guides them through a decision tree.
The questions and responses act as a mirror, helping women to identify their skills and outline opportunities for their future.
The women then receive necessary connections to existing resources that facilitate achieving the choices they have made. This connection could include access to finance, vocational training, or linkages to formal employment.
The data the tool collects will serve as a valuable resource to increase macroeconomic opportunity as the model progresses in the future, and leverages partnerships with existing front-line staff for implementation, with telecommunications companies to provide top-up credit for continued use, and with corporations for long-term sustainability.
baSHAUR is unique in the sense that it combines two things: it facilitates women with a choice to make informed decisions about their economic lives, and it connects them to the right resources to then act upon their choice.
Connecting women to existing resources (MFIs, NGOs, training institutes, etc.) based on their specific competencies and desires, rather than viewing the population of female micro-entrepreneurs as homogenous growth entrepreneurs, is a unique approach in the market (confirmed by expert Michael Blakeley).
Therefore, we do not have direct competitors. There are initiatives that show that automated information systems via mobile phone technology (using AI and chat bots) work in developing countries.
The South-African based AskMama service, for example, disseminates personalized information for pregnant women depending on their due date.
Furthermore, Arifu is an SMS-based education marketplace that provides personalized learning resources to Kenyan those that need it.
baSHAUR can empower women with agency over their economic situation. 50% of the world’s population live below the poverty line and over half of these are women.
Pakistan’s poverty rates reflect this reality: 35 million women in Pakistan live below the poverty line.
Our hypothesis is that empowering women in Pakistan with economic choice and connections to act upon that choice will have a ripple effect on families, communities, and ultimately the country as a whole.
This feeds into several (sub-targets) of the SDGs:
SDG 1: No poverty
SDG 4: Quality education; equal access for all men and women to affordable and quality technical, vocational, and tertiary education, including university; and increase the member of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
SDG 5: Gender equality; to strengthen the skills, knowledge, and capacities of women
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities
Two teammates will be based in Washington, DC in the US; one in Amsterdam, Netherlands; one in Copenhagen, Denmark; and one in Karachi, Pakistan.
We have other interested Pakistani talents who are eager to work on this project as well, and much of the on-the-ground work will need to take place in Karachi.