Pakistan has everything that is needed for the modern agriculture –from all 4 seasons (which serve to provide plenty of farming opportunities) to 47.79% of agricultural land, abundant water and hardworking labour force. It is one of the world’s top milk producers, leading raw milk producing country and 11thlargest poultry producer in the world. Livestock is considered central component in agricultural sector of Pakistan which provides employment to more than 8 million families.
Above advantages should make farming in Pakistan extremely profitable for the farmer but unfortunately the local farmer is still suffering. The manufacturing sector also has not grown much as imported products have captured most consumer groups. At an average grocery store, 60% of the main prominent shelf space is given to the multinational companies who have enough budgets to spend on advertising and marketing to reach the local consumers and on the other hand the local products don’t even get prime shelf space for display. The local manufacturers and producers won’t be able to survive long if their products don’t gain market share and that’s why we came up with the idea of Etimad Online.
Etimad Online is an initiative to reduce inflation and alleviate poverty from Pakistan by promoting and helping local manufacturers to get proper shelf space and by connecting farmers directly to the end consumers. We have launched over 50 stores across Karachi and aiming to have more than 300 such stores across Sindh by April 2021. Through these stores, we have created selling space for local products and now encouraging and inviting young entrepreneurs to open small industries in every town. Etimad Online will not only buy their products but also will be providing these budding entrepreneurs logistical support to make sure they reach the market properly.
Etimad Online is a brainchild of its chairman Mr. Azim Adil Sheikh who realized the need of such platform after Covid-19, which has wreaked havoc on the global economy. Pakistan, where there is no price mechanism for the basic commodities – sugar, wheat, poultry, meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy etc. and the absence of check and control system for the anti-market practices has lead the artificial and unethical price rise. Everyone from retailers to wholesalers are charging premium rates which is directly effecting the end consumer for whom it is becoming impossible to run a household on lower income and on the other hand the farmer who is producing everything, is still dying of hunger.
Sensitive Price Indicator which monitors the price of some essential items on weekly basis has already spoken on the surge in prices but no one is even addressing that. If we take examples of vegetables which obviously are grown in abundance in winters, are still very expensive and the consumer is paying more than they were paying in summers. The chicken and meat prices are beyond to the affordability of general public. The spike in the prices of essential commodities has taken its toll on every household across the country.
The higher costs do not even guarantee higher product quality as the producer has lower profit margins and fierce competition. It is heart wrenching that no one has been held accountable for the undue profit margin at the expense of poverty stricken population.
There is a consistent increase in imports which is harmful to economic growth of Pakistan. While looking at the import bill of Pakistan, one will wonder that a country whose public debt to GDP ratio has crossed 106 percent of GDP, why is spending billions of dollars on imports. According to the World Bank’s Business Environment Report 2020 ranking of 190 economies in terms of ease of global business environment, Pakistan ranks 108th. The situation is alarming, unemployment is on the rise. It is assessed that Pakistan needs an economic growth rate of over 7 percent to ensure its unemployment stays at a reasonable level. That couldn’t be achieved until and unless the government promotes small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Policy makers should focus on SMEs instead of trying to lure big business houses and large corporates.
Working towards the economic growth of a country is not only its governments responsibility and that’s why Etimad Online is also encouraging and supporting budding entrepreneurs and SMEs as supporting them will help in revival of the economy and will create millions of jobs as well but that couldn’t be achieved without governments help and support. SMEs can serve as the backbone of economy if these are supported by the government also. Although the government is ready to support the young entrepreneurs but that also could result in a chaos with the young generation in debt of government and banks because no one is training these entrepreneurs on how to run a business. Keeping that in mind, Etimad Online has gathered different professionals and experts from the fields of marketing, advertisement, designing, branding, production, procurement, packaging, finance, audit, human resource, communication etc. who all are ready to guide and help the young entrepreneurs under the umbrella of Etimad Online which is not only training and helping the SMEs but also promising to bring them business, buying their products and providing selling space across country which will increase the demand of local products and will also reduce inflation. And once these SMEs are ready, we will promote their products internationally as well, which will increase the exports of our country – and that is the vision of Etimad Online.