The Story Exchange

Lals Chocolate is a household name in Pakistan, which came into being when Lal Majid opened her first chocolate shop in Karachi in 2006, followed by two more outlets in Lahore and Karachi.

Her entrepreneurial spirit did not stop there and she continued to grow her business, following up with the launch of Lals Patisserie; a multi storey flagship store that offers dine in facilities and serves an array of sweet and savory products. The Chocolatier and brains behind Lals Chocolates also appeared on Masala TV in her show called "All About Chocolate"


Lal Majid is also the author of "Deliciously Yours" which was critically acclaimed and received the Gourmand Award in 2014. She decided to launch the first ever gourmet dessert book in Pakistan due to her love for chocolates and passion for confectionary sweets.

The name behind RAKA Events, Amina Rashid Khan, is one of Pakistan's young woman entrepreneurs who has created a world of what she believes in. Creating spaces that are beautiful and inspiring is what it’s all about for Amina


Grandaughter of the iconic Madam Noor Jehan and the namesake of Natasha Salon; Natasha Khalid has set the bar high for makeup professionals in Pakistan. She knew what she wanted from an early age and began training to become the inspirational woman that she is today.


Sana Hashwani, one of the duo behind the internationally acclaimed fashion & retail brand Sana Safinaz, believes that hard work and consistency pays off. According to her, in the long run, it’s what you create that matters, not who you are. Sana Safinaz has been in the industry since 1987 and she believes that this is only the beginning as the best is yet to come!


Raised by a single mother, Mehreen started her modeling career in her college days in 2002. In the year 2009, she entered entrepreneurship by launching the Diamond & Polki jewelry collection. Acknowledging the struggles she personally went through as an aspiring model, Mehreen launched International Fashion Academy Pakistan (IFAP) as CEO in 2011. It is through IFAP that she sought to establish a platform that allows the next generation of fashion industry professionals, specifically stylists, models, makeup artists and photographers, to study their field in a professional environment. 


Sabiha comes from an enterprising community in Memons. Her father was a leading figure in the community and her uncle was one of the pioneers of self-help development work in Lyari. Combining family inspirations with her own interest, she started to volunteer for LCDP, and quickly found herself devoted to its projects for female empowerment. Since the late 1980s, Sabiha has been the head of the women’s wing of LCDP, serving the organisation in many ways. In 1987, she founded a stitching center where women could produce school uniforms at competitive prices for the local market. She put together a team of women who could sew, employed a full-time designer and cutter, and approached the market for orders. She persuaded the LCDP to provide space and a small loan to start the business and agreed to launch a training program that would reach additional women. While the business was and is successful, it gave her the insight that most


The Founding Director of the Institute for Development Studies and Practices, Dr Quratulain Bakhtiari has dedicated her career to raising the next generation of social and political activists in Pakistan. Quratulain earned her Master's Degree from Karachi University and later, her Doctorate from the University of Technology in Loubrough, England. Passionately involved in bettering the community, and encouraging others to do the same, Quratulain has worked with UNICEF and the Government of Balochistan, and founded the Institute for Development Studies and Practices. Her work has focused on health care, education, and social activism - all three of which she seeks to inspire her students to become involved in. Her organisation, the IDSP, focuses on training students in learning centers and offering them the opportunity to be engaged in their local communities where they can think in innovative and creative ways to implement positive


Shaista Bukhari was born and raised in Multan. Pushed to take care of herself due to difficult circumstances, she realised the importance of economic independence in conservative societies like southern Punjab. She returned home, and after several months of looking for work, she acquired a contract managing the canteen at a local school. The rewarding experience of running the canteen gave Shaista confidence, and she began to work with local crafts-women. She organised a group of these women and founded a business for embroidering clothes. Her experience working with the women taught her that economic independence was also a significant means of reducing a women’s susceptibility to domestic violence: A lesson that ultimately led her to found the Women Rights Association in 1999. Shaista later took a training course with the Social Development and Policy Institute, Pakistan’s leading non-governmental social research institut


Shad Begum is the Founder of Association for Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT). Founded in 1994 for the development of women in the area, initially ABKT was known as Anjuman Behbood-i-Khawateen Talash. Shad Begum shifted the organisations office to Peshawar when the Taliban rose in the area and she was threatened by unidentified militants. The association has contributed in female education, political awareness and health improvement projects in the area. Furthermore the association has also carried out projects like construction of hanging bridges, installation of hand pumps, sinking wells, paving streets, provision of small loans to local traders and capacity building of women at grassroots level. In March 2012, Shad Begum was awarded with the International Women of Courage Award by the US First Lady Michelle Obama and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


Shamama Arbab is Director of Euro Industries, a food-processing business in Peshawar. She helped set up the Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Peshawar, and served as Vice President. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the Federally Administered Tribal Area Development Authority; serves on the Committee of the Agricultural Support Fund; chairs the Committee for Women’s Developmentand Policy Advocacy; and is an executive member of the Provincial Commission for the Status of Women.
Shamama holds a Master of Public Administration degree. She owns Balahisar restaurant and The Coffee Pot Bistro, where she hosts the Peshawar Readers Club, which she co-founded. Shamama was a member of SEALA 1, and elected to the Board by her SEALA peers.

Fauzia Rehman is the woman behind Persian Treats a meal service/ catering business that boasts Afghan, Persian and Turkish cuisines on its menu. Home cooked, hygienic and made with love, Persian Treats has become a household name in Lahore for the delicious flavors it brings to the table. Primarily a homemaker, Fauzia had too much time on her hands when her children were grown up and decided to put her cullinary talents to good use after identifying a lack of authentic Afghan food


Anum Imtiaz, who is currently pursuing her Masters in Environmental Engineering, developed NANO-TECH Pvt Ltd. - an organization that specializes in design and manufacture of high quality water filtration and treatment products using emerging technologies to serve as barriers against harmful micro-organisms, to provide pure and safe drinking water

Mehreen Jabbar is a Pakistani filmmaker, who studied film in the US and then returned to Pakistan, and directed and produced drama series/serials under the banner of TasVeer Productions, almost all of which were critically acclaimed by the Pakistani press.

Jabbar directed her first play in 1994, called Nivala, which was an adaptation of Ismat Chughtai's short story. Since then she has made several award winning telefilms and TV series for several TV channels in Pakistan, in addition to a number of short films which have aired in festivals worldwide.

Saulat Salahuddin earned her MBA from LUMS and completed her BA from the Lahore College for Women. She built a promotional products company that is known to be the industry leader. Saulat has grown her company from a home based business to a case study SME cited as a role model for Pakistan’s promotional products industry. Ms. Salahuddin has a client portfolio comprising more than 24 Fortune 500 companies; from pharmaceuticals to banks to FMGCs. Her company manufactured plastic lenses for the first time in Pakistan. It was the first Pakistani company to become a member of Promotional Products Association International, the premier international trade association. Ms. Salahuddin introduced the concept of premiums in place of price-offs in the Pakistani market. She is a trailblazer and is working shoulder to shoulder in an industry dominated by men. #Inspiration

Meherbano Sethi, the entrepreneur behind Luscious Cosmetics, is a graduate in International Relations from Boston University. She launched the brand in 2007 after 7 years of researching, developing and analyzing make up, focusing primarily on the South Asian and Middle Eastern skin tones. It was her belief that no top quality brand catered to skin tones like her own and of the women she knew.

Based in the UAE, with regional offices in India, Pakistan and the UK; Luscious Cosmetics bring to the market excellent product quality, competitive pricing and collaborations with the region’s best known cosmetic industry names making the brand a household name in Asia and the Middle East.

Meherbano’s entrepreneurial spirit has led to the company’s growth rate reaching an impressive 392% since its inception, and the company was recently ranked as one of the fastest growing brands in the Arabia500 index, part of the Allworld Network in 2011 and 2

Entrepreneurship doesn’t just mean starting one's own business. It means taking that risk; daring to fail, but fighting to win. Zeenat S. Ahmed has always been an enterprising woman. In her early days she began her small business with a little boutique, where she paid Rs. 250 in rent for the outlet and manufactured everything herself. Through the support of her family she expanded her business to 400 people. But Zeenat’s business eventually met a road block and she faced bankruptcy which she faced with the help of friends and family. What was meant to be an exhibition for home accessories inspired her to venture into designing silver exclusively when one of her ornate silver tables received the most attention. The idea, named Taneez, was an instant winner and she’s now made a reputation for herself in the business of silver goods, with up to five outlets all over Pakistan.


A prominent female entrepreneur and trendsetter in the food and hospitality sector in Pakistan, Nilofer Saeed’s business has been recognized amongst the 100 Fastest Growing Companies at the Arabia 500 summit. Nilofer launched Copper Kettle Cafe in 1993 and following the raging success of its desserts, she launched the Hobnob Bakery chain. Today 13 Hobnob bakeries are operational across Karachi. A true leader and innovator, Nilofer's business has now expanded to include N’eco’s Natural Store & Café, the first outlet in Pakistan to offer a wide range of organic, natural, herbal and social enterprise goods.

Frieha Altaf is the owner and C.E.O of Catwalk Productions, Pakistan’s premier event planning company, handling major corporate and private affairs globally. Specializing in corporate and fashion events, Frieha has built a successful business that grows primarily through boundless hard work, enthusiasm, energy, creativity and imagination backed by years of event planning experience, assures clients of unique, memorable, and successful events. Frieha has built her successful business based on her experience as a former supermodel and is not only considered a solid business women, but an icon and a mover and shaker in the industry. Some of her contributions towards promotion of fashion and the styling industry of Pakistan include introducing the concept of the Red Carpet to Pakistan are priceless as she continues to groom and provide a platform for new, upcoming models.

Anila Weldon, is the founder of a very successful and beneficial project, WeldonMoms. WeldonMoms is a support group for women  started with the aim to 'empower, support and facilitate women during their transition to parenthood'. The WeldonMoms sessions comprise of business graduates, IT specialists, high powered executives, lawyers, graphic designers, event planners etc. Far from learning how to plug the computer in, women join to fulfill one common goal: start their own online business. Anila Weldon did her BBA in Marketing from Greenwich University, but had embarked upon her career in IT way before she completed her degree. Miss Weldon, also writes on Information Technology issues for DAWN MAGAZINE, DAWN FOLIO (A fortnightly newsletter on IT, Marketing, Management and Advertising) And many more.

A graduate of Georgetown University, Mashal Chaudhry is one of the inspiring people behind the Reading Room Project(RRP); a project that provides computer literacy to students from low-income families for free, by bringing its own resources, curriculum and, most importantly, its own method of implementation into a public school. The aim is to instill interest in young minds for learning and to familiarise and teach them about the fastest way to gain information: the internet. The computer skills that children develop with the help of the Reading Room Project will enable them to use the internet independently in the future. #Inspiration

Zoone is the founder of Thali, a nonprofit that aims at feeding the less fortunate through meals the more fortunate take for granted. Zoone has an MBA from the University of Southern Queensland in International Business and is also running MDi Communications, which is an integrated marcomm company based out of Islamabad. Zoone has been involved with social work since a long time; from teaching kids of the less fortunate to sponsoring education and collecting funds for weddings of the poor she has been involved in the lot of work. "Thali is not just my organization but I believe it is a concept and it is equally important for everyone to believe in it, practice it, LIVE it. Let's say NO to the WASTAGE of FOOD! Thali karo ya Khali karo. Finish your meal or share it with the first needy person you see." - Zoone #Inspiration #WomensINC

Once the first woman to venture into the garment industry in Islamabad, Samina Fazil is more well known as a President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Following a dream, she borrowed Rs100,000 from her family and embarked on a journey that taught her all she needed to achieve her goal; her own shop on Main Murree Road in 1991. Today she serves as an inspiration for other women, and gives them the strength to pursue their dreams. #Inspiration #WomensINC

Sheba Najmi is the founder of "Tech for Change", a non-profit organization focusing on bringing entrepreneurs, developers and designers together to work out Pakistan's civic problems. She got her BS and MS degree from Stanford University in Symbolic Systems, where she studied the interaction between humans and computers. She was a Fellow at "Code for America" and became part of several notable projects like "Honolulu Answers" and "Social Media handbook for Cities". She was also the lead designer for seven years for Yahoo Mail. #Inspiration #WomensINC

The #hometownshoe story began in 2010 when Sidra and Waqas met Hussain a local craftsman making hand made leather shoes in district Okara in Punjab. They realised that this art needed a platform and got together to form the company known as hometown they are known across the globe and are presenting their latest collection on kickstarter by the name of #markhor - Two ordinary entrepreneurs and an extraordinary journey #inspiration