People around the world have become increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint and impact on the environment, therefore they look for practical and durable choices. Bear Necessities offers an aesthetic alternative to the world with their durable leather classic products including bags, satchels, totes, wallets, and more. Cherry on top: they are all hand-crafted, unique products. They can be happily passed on to the next generation as a cherished memory.
Summaiya Zaidi, cofounder of Bear Necessities, was always impressed by the elegance and quality of bags whenever she went abroad and often wondered why no brand in Pakistan offered such bags. So, lack of quality, durable and practical bags in Pakistan’s market was the motivation behind the inception of Bear Necessities. In 2014, when they started their business, they outsourced the making of their products and sold them online. Back then they had only 4 employees and offered 8 products. With the passage of time the word spread and the demand for their products increased. They thought of business expansion and in 2019 they had their own factory and machinery bought from their savings.
Summaiya Zaidi recalls that when they decided to scale up, they realized that their business needed a major capital injection. For her, loan from banks was not an option. She dismissed banks for their high interest rates. Another problem was that they did not have any collateral that could help them guarantee loan from the bank. Then in summer of 2019 they came to know about Karandaaz through one of their friends. They researched about it, found themselves eligible to apply for investment under Karandaaz Women Venture which is a business support initiative focusing on female entrepreneurs in Pakistan. They deemed Karandaaz Women Ventures suitable for their business as it provided customized growth capital for individual needs of a business and also offered business development services.
With Karandaaz by their side, they scaled up Bear Necessities and now operate with 10 employees offering more than 30 products. All products are handmade; no two products are the same.
Summaiya Zaidi calls their journey with Karandaaz an enlightening experience. “Application process of Karandaaz to secure capital is quite rigorous. We underwent different training sessions. We were trained to make a business plan, draft human resource policies, and introduce different accounting procedures. At each stage they provided us resources and prepared us for the final pitch to secure capital. Once we qualified for the capital, Karandaaz was by our side, supervising us, helping prepare quarterly audit reports, and all that. They brought a completely different perspective, methodology and professionalism into our business, which we may have overlooked otherwise. Such support would have never been provided by any other financial institution.”
In a short period of time, Bear Necessities has carved out a place for itself in the market for durability and functionality of its products. New product development is a continuous process at Bear Necessities. The best thing is that they offer life time warranty in services for their products. Customers may send them the products that they have used over a period of time that needs to be restored; they touch them up, polish them, fix them and send them back. No wonder, they have won the trust of their customers with their online business model.
Summaiya Zaidi is an epitome of a successful entrepreneur, managing her business, education and home. She asserts that no doubt it is a daunting task for a woman to balance life and work. She is fortunate to have her husband and business partner, Husain, by her side. She is also proud of her capable, cooperative and experienced team that offers valuable input for the new product introduction and design.
Husain, cofounder of Bear Necessities, strongly believes in women empowerment specifically in Pakistan. He thinks that women are a significant part of population and it is imperative that they step up efforts to start and run their own businesses. This will bring economic stability to their homes and prosperity to the country. Summaiya too is all for women entrepreneurship and believes that they should be provided ample opportunities to flourish:
“Women represent almost 50% of the population and denying them the opportunities to work and not creating a space for them to flourish is a disservice to half of the population. It is important for women to do their own business because it allows them financial independence and flexibility. Financial independence is important for women to be a source of income for the family. A woman’s time is divided among family, home and business. When a woman gets an opportunity to do her own business, she has the flexibility to use her time for multiple tasks.”
Summaiya is of the opinion that time for women to set up their own business is riper than ever before. They don’t necessarily need to invest a large sum of money to start a business, and with an ecommerce business model, they even may not have to step out of their houses. All they need is to give it a go. They need to work on the ideas they have and the dreams they would love to pursue. Setup their own business, strive for its progress and leave no stone unturned to make their ideas successful. This will result in their financial independence and economic stability of their families while ensuring women’s economic participation. More women-led businesses mean more employment opportunities in general and for women in particular. A family with two incomes is always better than one that has only one income to rely on.
Summaiya Zaidi as an entrepreneur is an inspiration for Pakistani women and a proof that with the right amount of determination, a vision, and necessary support, women can work wonders in the world of entrepreneurship.