Funding Ideas for Newbie Entrepreneurs – A Quick Chat with Amer Qureshi

Starting your own business in the 21 century should be a relatively easy experience, right? With crowdfunding platforms, tech incubators and enthusiastic investors, it’s not that hard to obtain the needed money to kickstart your business. Right? Actually, wrong. And no one knows that better than women in Pakistan who have had to give up their dreams of entrepreneurship simply because they do not have the funds to finance their business. Making it worse, they also lack any form of expert and professional support, have no knowledge nor access to crowdfunding owing to social, political and governmental fears, and are unable to crack the prestigious and often-times limited landscapes of tech incubators and investors.

After having spoken to multiple women in Pakistan, we learn that they have extremely limited chances of starting their own business if they do not have their own source of funding. From difficulty obtaining funding, to getting bank loans, from navigating bureaucratic policies to handling complex tax regulations, there is a seemingly endless maze of complications to go through before one could successfully launch their own business.

Amer Qureshi

Today however, we wanted to speak to an expert and understand the situation from an active businessman’s point of view. Moreover, we wanted to have his expert opinion about Pakistan’s financial landscape for entrepreneurs (especially women) and what tips would he have for newbies! So, here’s talking to Amer Qureshi.

Amer is a prominent name in Pakistan’s finance industry, having years of senior management experience in different companies located in Australia, Qatar and Pakistan. A successful author of The A to Z of Healthy Small Businesses, and a voice that does not shy away from talking about harsh realities of the funding and entrepreneurial scene in Pakistan, Amer gives us some basic insights that would be very helpful to newbie women entrepreneurs located in third-world countries where funding is a hard obstacle to overcome.

What kind of funding and investment options are available for women in Pakistan who want to start their own business?

Practically speaking, the only real options for small enterprises is debt funding from a Micro Finance institution, raising loans or equity through family and friends

What do you think about crowdfunding in Pakistan? Especially for female-led startups? Do you think people here are ready to fund small business ideas online?

I think this will take some time. People need to better understand how crowdfunding works before they would consider investing.

What is the most crucial funding tip you can give to a complete newbie in entrepreneurship?

Always have Plan B ready! Planning is crucial, but realise that things don’t often go according to the plan.

What are the top 5 funding mistakes female-led entrepreneurs should avoid?

  1. They must know what their business is worth, if raising equity, and how much they are willing to offer an investor, in exchange for the investment.
  2. Being unrealistic about the value of a startup. This is not the Silicon Valley, and Angel Investors  are not going to be falling over themselves to offer you funding.
  3. Not knowing how much you really need. You should have a clear idea of what you need as an investment and how the funds will be utilised.
  4. Not knowing the investor. Getting to know the potential investors is critical. They must add value over and above the money.
  5. Business model not defined – how are you going to make money? Sounds simple but many startups struggle with the economics of running the business.

What are some of the biggest challenges Pakistani women face in entrepreneurship?

There are the traditional cultural barriers that make things quite difficult for women. That being said, there are many examples of successful women entrepreneurs that are breaking through these barriers and in the process making it easier for other women to follow.

Access to funding, finding the right mentors, lack of suitable and cost-effective office facilities are just some of the challenges from a business perspective.

Will women ever be able to break the cultural barrier and show the world their talent and excellent management skills? Yes, but how soon? That’s hard to say. Nevertheless, the hope is alive and while it may take quite some time, at least we are happy with the knowledge that the world is speaking up, doors are being opened and opportunities are being seized.

author biopic 

About the Author
A passionate storyteller, Farah Kim believes that words have the power to shape cultures and drive societies towards progressive change. Motivated by her curiosity, she discovers and shares stories that contributes to a better world.

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