Nestlé Pakistan commemorated International Day of Rural Women by pledging to be a force for good, towards the upliftment of rural women through its Nestlé-BISP Rural Women Sales Program, which till date has enrolled over 1800 rural women as sales agents.
Nestlé Pakistan in partnership with Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), as part of the government’s Ehsaas initiative, had started the Nestlé-BISP Rural Women Sales Program in 2017 to provide livelihood opportunities to BISP beneficiaries. Launched in 2008, BISP is Pakistan’s unconditional cash transfer program which provides a quarterly stipend of approximately PKR 6000 to its beneficiaries.
The main premise of Nestlé-BISP Rural Women Sales Program was to work for the upliftment of the rural women of Pakistan and put them on the path to prosperity in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of 3, 5, 8, and 17.
Talking about the program, Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, Nestlé Pakistan & Afghanistan said, “There is no ‘magic bullet’ to women empowerment and central to this tenet, is the acknowledgment that long-term prosperity is only possible when women are provided a level playing field to achieve their potential.”
He highlighted that over the last four years, the program has scaled up, reaching 24 districts of Pakistan and enrolling over 1800 BISP beneficiaries as rural sales agents.
“This program has shown that economic upliftment may lead to wider social empowerment. Traditionally, women of rural Pakistan have been unable to participate in any structured economic activity,” he added.
Nestlé Pakistan also partnered with Akhuwat Pakistan (the largest interest-free microfinance program) since 2019 whereby micro-loans worth PKR 2 million were disbursed to these women, improving their access to finance.
The initiative has helped these women get into the business of retail hence paving the way for economic empowerment, allowing for greater financial inclusion, by improving financial access for these “poorest of the poor” women.
Rehana Bibi: A life changed through Nestle’s commitment
Rehana Bibi has been working with Nestlé since 2018 as a micro-distributor in a village near Pindi Bhattian. Like many others, Rehana Bibi’s household also had to face the consequences of COVID -19: “My husband was a daily wage worker, but he lost his job due to Covid-19. Due to which we suffered a lot financially.” With the help of this program, she was able to support her family financially through difficult times.
She initially had to face challenges as a distributor in her village: “The shopkeepers were very hesitant. They started keeping limited stock at first, but demand rose over time and now I get consistent demand from the shopkeepers.”
Now that Rehana Bibi has established herself as a Micro-Distributor in her village, she has also started to distribute Nestlé products to other nearby villages: “Our sale orders are increasing over time and now I deliver to neighboring villages as well.”
Nestlé BISP Rural Women Sales Program has enabled Rehana Bibi to make financially uplifting decisions for her household: “The money that we get from these sales is being used for our children and household expenses and I am also saving up for my daughter’s wedding.”
Nestle continues its commitment to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) No. 5, Gender Equality and No. 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth. Nestlé Pakistan is committed to empowering and providing livelihood opportunities to the marginalized rural women of Pakistan.