Belonging to Hyderabad, the second largest city of Pakistan’s most populated province, Sindh, Anum Ali Laghari was motivated to bring about a positive change and wanted to create an impact among the marginalized group of society.
When this realisation dawned, she went about setting up a non-profit organisation, I Help – Touching Souls while still doing her graduate studies. Her passion to give back to the society led her to establish this organization to serve the people in need, as many as possible.
In this exclusive chat with AsiaBizToday, Anum Laghari shares her about her work and insights.
Activities that you undertake?
Currently I am working on two social causes – Educating underprivileged students, who can’t afford formal and non-formal education as well as Working for women’s reproductive rights.
For the underprivileged students, we are running a charitable Street School. According to Pakistan government estimates, around 22.8 million children in the age group of 5-16 are out of school. Pakistan has the world’s second highest number of children out of school due to lack of economical recourses.
The charitable school was established April 2017 with help of friends and family and has served more than 250 students thus far. Currently 45 students are enrolled in the school. We provide free formal and non-formal education along with medical assistance when required and the school also provides stationery and books to the students.
With regards to Women’s Reproductive Rights, I am working with Marie Stopes Society on providing awareness and services on reproductive health rights and family planning to the vulnerable women. I work as District Manager, Operations at Marie Stopes Society. It’s my paid job but for a cause, I supervise around 25 staff members of my team and our private service providers including lady doctors, nurses and paramedics in my district.
Your trigger and motivation to get into this.
I hail from a privileged family and I grew up dreaming to be a social activist to help as many as possible. Lifting up others and transforming their lives has helped me turn my dream into reality. I started my journey of social services to help the one in need without any greed or wanting anything in return.
Your experiences in a leadership position?
Being a leader is difficult. It involves setting the right example and being a role model. For leaders it is important for their teams to act and perform. All eyes are on you, watching your every move as you set the expectations for the team.
If the leadership team is smartly dressed and punctual, then this will encourage the team to replicate this behaviour. They will look at your willingness to roll up your sleeves and get involved to achieve the team goals, they will look to see how you communicate at all hierarchical levels and they will analyze how accountable you are when things are going badly. Being a good role model for your business is vital if you want your team members to be as professional as you are.
Important factors that keep you going?
My passion, will and commitment towards the work I’m doing, keeps me going.
Any obstacles in your initiatives, specifically because of being a woman?
Being a woman I have faced many challenges. In my country there is no debate over the fact that men are given unfair advantages over women under unquestionable circumstances. Unofficial policies exist in private as well as government institutions with regard to the hiring of women, as it is commonly believed that they will either get married and quit, or take days off or leaves during their maternity periods. This is downright discrimination and this, of course, robs women of many good opportunities that places them at a lower position in the society.
Your source of inspiration?
I’m inspired by my father as he has always been a source of support for me while doing all my projects and the other one is the angel of mercy, Abdul Sattar Edhi. His Edhi Foundation runs the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network, along with homeless shelters, animal shelter, rehab centers and orphanages across Pakistan.
Your proudest moment so far?
When I witnessed the students of my charitable school starting to write and read the sentences written in the English language. It was like I had achieved my objective.
Your definition of success?
Happy woman is a successful woman. When you are satisfied and happy from what you are doing, you are successful.
Your advice to other aspiring Entrepreneurs, especially women?
My advice for entrepreneur women is simple and it is to have concrete goals. Do not be afraid to fail. Failures are great proof that you have taken the necessary risks in your journey.