Her husband’s murder left Shaheen unsure as to how to support herself and her children. Despite working as a teacher prior to her husband’s death, the family had relied on their dual incomes to survive. Shaheen was unprepared to take on the entire responsibility of supporting her family, but she had no other choice.
The school where Shaheen worked offered support. She was promoted to a new position overseeing school admissions. This role came with greater responsibility and a higher salary.
Shaheen’s vision inspired many parents to send their children to school. As a widow who never compromised on her own children’s education, she became an inspirational figure for mothers in the neighborhood. Her dedication doubled enrollment at her school. This success saw Shaheen promoted again, becoming the school’s principal.
Yet life continued to challenge Shaheen. The internal management of the school proved unstable and, as a result, she was asked to leave. Again, she found herself struggling to support her family but she never failed to believe in herself.
Shaheen realized she couldn’t rely on unstable jobs to sustain a family. She needed something more permanent, and something of her own that she could shape herself. She decided to open her own school.
Despite having to dedicate all her savings and selling a small flat she owned to start this venture, Shaheen was determined to become an entrepreneur.
She walked from door to door in the scorching Sindh heat, convincing parents to send their children to her school. She visited students who were bright, but could not afford to attend school. Shaheen was not just a businesswoman, but a strong advocate for children’s education. She waived enrollment fees for many children to ensure they had access to a classroom.
Although she was able to scrape together enough money to open a tiny school, she could not afford the materials and additional teachers her students required. She needed more capital.
Just when she was looking for lenders, a representative from Khushhali Microfinance Bank visited her school. He offered a loan of 150,000 rupees for expansion. The loan enabled her to expand the school to meet the needs of her growing cohort of students.It also renewed her faith in herself as an entrepreneur and her commitment to education.
Only a few years after taking out that first loan, Shaheen now owns the land under her school, worth 60 lakh rupees, and has provided an educational haven to over 300 children. Having hired twelve teachers, Shaheen is also increasing employment opportunities and demonstrating to the women in her community that they too can succeed as entrepreneurs.
In Pakistan, where according to UNESCO only 65 percent of girls attend primary school and 29 percent go to secondary school, Shaheen’s story is an important achievement. As woman entrepreneur, supporting her family on her own, Shaheen demonstrates each day that other women in Sindh can take control of their lives, work hard, educate their children, and lead their families to prosperity.