USAID and Foodpanda Provides Online Business Trainings to Home-based Women Chefs During COVID-19 Outbreak

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Online trainings

With the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan and the associated lockdowns imposed by the government, online learning has become even more relevant. 

While consumers are actively trying to maintain social distancing, smaller businesses have shown keen interest in online learning to capitalize on a time when sales and revenue generation are otherwise low. However, targeted online business training for home-based women entrepreneurs from various socio-economic backgrounds is not widely available. 

To help bridge this gap, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Small and Medium Enterprise Activity (SMEA), in partnership with Foodpanda, has created a niche support mechanism for home-based women chefs in the form of online Business Management and Marketing training sessions.

SMEA has custom-designed these trainings to keep capacity building initiatives for small and medium enterprises rolling and to lift the morale of female entrepreneurs during these testing times. The project has received more than 70 applications from home-based chefs  across Pakistan (including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan) for these training sessions, which are held on a weekly basis. Bakers, lunch service providers, and other small food businesses across Pakistan now have a chance to improve their skills related to pricing strategies, market segmentation, and basic digital marketing practices. These sessions have offered a multifaceted solution that is giving food businesses an opportunity to grow their skills despite social distancing measures. 

“This is a great innovation and illustrates our continuing efforts to partner with the private sector to address the needs of the community and to foster women’s entrepreneurship in Pakistan,” said USAID Mission Director Julie Koenen.  “These are challenging times for all of us and for those who are starting their own business, it can be especially challenging.  Using this technology to keep those businesses functioning and giving them the skills in budgeting, marketing and other business operations ensures that these women can earn an income, which is critical at this time.”

“While our home chefs have amazing cooking skills, we noticed a serious gap in their understanding of finance, business and marketing concepts that are critical to the growth of any business, no matter how big or small,” said Binte Fatima, Foodpanda’s Home-Based Chefs Category Head. “We were always aware of the impactful work USAID SMEA does for the development of the SME sector, so we reached out to them for collaboration and the results and feedback have been amazing. We are extremely excited to have USAID SMEA as our education partner and plan to offer more frequent courses covering a variety of subjects to our home chefs throughout the year.” 

When asked, a majority of the participants feel that the sessions are greatly helping to develop their understanding of identifying business problems and designing innovative solutions. 

“I will now focus more on our online presence and pay attention to packaging,” said Hamna Aamir, owner of Bawarchi. “In the future, I will not hesitate to increase the price of my products if the cost rises too.” 

With more than $8 million in new contributions, the United States is collaborating with the Government of Pakistan to help stop the spread of COVID-19 nationwide and care for afflicted people.  All of these contributions were identified as top priority needs by Pakistani authorities, and they are fully paid by the American people. Over the past 20 years, the United States has invested more than $18.4 billion in Pakistan, including $1.1 billion in health assistance.

Last updated: April 29, 2020

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