30 Other Women Entrepreneurs From Gilgit-Baltistan, Were Selected To Participate In The Region’s First-Ever Digital Marketing Bootcamp.

As the world continues to become increasingly digitalised with time, having an online presence has become crucial for businesses. Whether someone owns a big company or a small startup, having a sound digital marketing strategy for online businesses has become more important than ever before to survive the cut-throat market competition.

Realising the importance of having a social media page for her small business to attract potential customers, Khalida Rahim – an entrepreneur belonging to the small town of Gulmit in Gilgit-Baltistan – created a Facebook page for her hand-made jewellery business. The page, however, remained static and failed to get the attention of buyers because she was unfamiliar with the concept of digital marketing. “I had created a social media page for my jewellery business, but I wasn’t using it regularly,” Rahim said. “I did not even know what to do with the page to get the word out or attract customers.”

Not long after, Rahim found an opportunity to familiarise herself with the concepts of digital marketing. She, along with 30 Other Women Entrepreneurs From Gilgit-Baltistan, Were Selected To Participate In The Region’s First-Ever Digital Marketing Bootcamp. Owing to the remote location of her hometown, Rahim faced several challenges.

Problems like power outages, poor internet connectivity, and extreme weather made it hard for the participants to regularly attend the sessions. Nonetheless, with a persistent attitude and the will to move up the career ladder, all 30 of them successfully graduated from the programme. “The bootcamp significantly enhanced my digital marketing skills,” Rahim said. “By employing the strategies that I learned during the programme, I am seeing a significant increase in the number of followers on my social media pages.”

A step towards women’s empowerment

The digital marketing bootcamp was organised by Karachi-based startup CIRCLE, in collaboration with Rupani Foundation – an NGO working to create employment opportunities for people belonging to the underserved mountainous communities of Pakistan. According to the organisers, the initiative aimed at empowering the women of Gilgit-Baltistan.

This bootcamp was tailored to fit the growing demands of the industry. Courses offered to the participants included digital marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), creating content, and life skills like building confidence and resilience. The 10-day bootcamp ran from February 25 to March 10, 2021, and included 30 students belonging to Sost Village and Gulmit.

Recently, CIRCLE and Rupani Foundation also held a virtual graduation ceremony for all 30 participants to acknowledge the successful completion of the programme. Speaking about the importance of digital skills, Sadaffe Abid, the founder of CIRCLE said: “Digital skills are a core capability in today’s world. With this vision, we ran a digital marketing bootcamp in Gilgit-Baltistan for 30 young women to build the next generation of women leaders in tech.”

“I want women in smaller cities to know that they can leverage technology from their homes and play an important role in Pakistan’s economic progress. Through these workshops, our goal is to empower women with digital skills and reinforce the fact that women can set up their businesses,” she said. “I am happy that these women participated in the bootcamp despite the qualms. My message to them is to always believe in themselves, stay resilient, communicate, don’t feel alone, and support each other,” Abid said.

Congratulating the graduates, Jalaluddin Shah, the Global Director of Rupani Foundation, thanked CIRCLE for pioneering the project in GB and highlighted the importance of women’s participation in the workforce.

“There’s no doubt that a society cannot progress without gender equality. We need to induce employable skills [in women] so that they can meet the demands of the digital world. These graduates will not only improve their businesses but will also act as ambassadors and bring more women on board in future,” he said.

An opportunity for collective learning

Speaking during the graduation ceremony, Rabab Fatima, an instructor at the digital marketing bootcamp, said that even though the programme only lasted 10 days, it was a two-way learning process for everyone. “We all learned a lot from each other. Owing to the remote locations of their hometowns, these women faced frequent power and internet connectivity issues. And we had only one hour for each class in which we had to accommodate a lot,” she explained.

“Nonetheless, each participant was full of passion for their businesses as well as for learning new things and excelling in life. This was my first time in G-B and I am [thoroughly impressed with participants’ business acumen and motivation].”

‘Pakistan is full of potential’

Speaking during the online graduation ceremony, Wendy Gilmore, Canada’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, congratulated the participants and said that she was excited to learn about a digital bootcamp specifically designed for the women of G-B. Shedding light on how Pakistan’s ranking dipped further as it secured the 151st position on the 2020 Global Gender Gap Index, Gilmore said that despite the challenges, there is no shortage of potential in Pakistan.

“There is potential, but people are [often deprived of] the opportunities. [More work should be done to] let girls take their rightful place in the economy and decision-making processes that impacts them as well as society,” she said, adding that the government of Canada is ready to support initiatives that empower women.

Finding the right platform

Speaking about her experience, Fehmida Rehman, another graduate of the programme, said that she joined the course because she was eager to learn digital skills but never found the right platform. “Through this programme, we learnt a lot of unique techniques of digital marketing in a fun way. All women should go for this programme and become financially independent,” Rehman said.

This news was originally published at Geo TV.