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Building a better business – Sana’s story

With her father unable to work, Sana grew up in poverty. Her mother provided for Sana and her four siblings by running a roadside café known as a dhabba. Sana explains how, with support from EYW, she has improved the fortunes of the family business.

Sana Fatima is 18 years old and lives in Layyah city in Punjab. She studied to grade 10, but felt she had to support her mother rather than continue her education. Back then, Sana explains, they didn’t keep any financial records or reinvest in the business. She also had to put up with negative comments from customers, who regarded running a dhabba as “a man’s work”.

Taking a stand

Sana heard about the EYW project from a customer. She decided to take part in the training at the Innovation Hub in Layyah–even though this meant standing up to her brother, who was against the idea. She says: “The most important skill I learned was budget management. This taught me the importance of reinvesting in the business, which will help me achieve my dream of expanding. I also learned the importance of branding and marketing. ”EYW then provided financial support, enabling Sana to buy soil to level the area in front of the café to make more room for people to sit. She also put up a shed and bought kitchen utensils and ingredients. Inspired by what she’d learnt about branding, Sana named the business Addi Ka Dhabba, after her mother, Addi, and promoted it with the memorable catchline: Go get five chapatis from Addi Ka Dhabba!


“Families need to support their daughters”

Thanks to the new brand alone, the profits doubled. Sana kept the business open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and even started a makeshift café further down the street to cope with the increased demand. She takes orders on her mobile phone, and is planning to start a WhatsApp group to share updates with her regular customers. Crucially, Sana has changed people’s attitudes to women in business and won her family’s trust: “At the start of the training, my brother visited the Innovation Hub, which helped him understand its purpose. He started to regularly drop me off and pick me up from the Hub. It was a proud moment for our family when I received financial support from EYW.” She continues: “Families need to encourage, support and trust their daughters –because many, like me, have aspirations and dreams. More young people need to be made aware of projects such as EYW so they can benefit from the training and turn their lives around.”

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