Aysha Saifuddin

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Aysha Saifuddin was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
In rural areas of Pakistan where women producers do not have access to markets, Aysha has established connections with partner citizen organizations (COs) to link them into the economy. Her organization, Kaarvan, is a forum used to help rural and suburban women establish production houses, produce quality goods, and sell their products to uptown markets and for export. Through the development of production houses, products, and quality control mechanisms, Kaarvan reaches out to women by providing training and advice to help them become appealing subcontractors for international brands. 
Additionally, ensuring high quality goods enables women producers to take advantage of the high-end market. Kaarvan has set up a distribution network that includes four self-operated retail outlets in Karachi and Lahore, and they supply chains to other large retailers like those operating in hotels, boutiques, and malls. Aysha sees Kaarvan as the access point for women producers to reach out to markets internationally in Dubai and Malaysia, and she is creating partnerships with international brands to provide opportunities beyond Kaarvan’s own marketing capacities.
Aysha sees these female production houses gaining economic power as they diversify to produce utility goods other than traditional handicrafts. In the next five years, Kaarvan will double the number of production houses and enter into the vibrant cotton sector, setting the lead for Pakistan’s cotton goods producing industry.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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