SDSB alumna Ms. Aysha Baqir (MBA '98) led a guest speaker session on "Rural Realities". An author and development consultant, Ms. Baqir studied international relations at Mount Holyoke College, USA. This experience sparked a passion for economic development, and upon her return to Pakistan, she founded a not-for-profit organisation, Kaarvan Crafts Foundation, which builds and strengthens skills & business capacities of women entrepreneurs from low income communities. Ms. Baqir's mission allows women to successfully pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and participate effectively in the markets to improve their economic standing. In recognition of her achievements, Ms. Baqir received the Vice Chancellor's Alumni Achievement Award at LUMS. She is also an Ashoka fellow.
Ms. Baqir has had an equally inspiring journey as an author. Her novel about social justice, "Beyond the Fields", was published in January 2019 by Marshall Cavendish (Asia) and is available online. The novel was shortlisted for best debut (English) at the 9th UBL Literary Awards. Ms. Baqir's interviews, book reviews, articles and short stories have appeared in Countercurrents, Borderless, The Herald, Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly, the Kitaab, and The Tempest.
Ms. Baqir's presentation on "Rural Realities" covered the following topics:
- Journey into Economic Development
- Approaches to Sustainable Grass Roots Development
- Value Chain Model and Pathways and Purse Strings
- The Social Context: Beyond the Fields
The presentation highlighted interesting facets of market development and economic empowerment initiatives, particularly in rural areas of Pakistan. This was followed by a Question and Answer session with students and faculty. The event concluded with networking tea.