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Pakistan’s vibrant craft heritage – an underexplored gem

04.07.2024
Marium Durrani

Last May, Finnpartnership participated in the Finland Pakistan Business Summit, organised by the Finland Pakistan Business Council in Karachi, Pakistan. The Summit gathered local and international stakeholders, creating an environment conducive to talks on trade, networking, and growth. The city of Karachi with its vibrant business climate and metropolitan atmosphere provided an ideal setting for discussions on commerce, innovation, and cultural exchange to take shape.

A Confluence of commerce and culture

Dr Marium Durrani, entrepreneur and consultant, with a PhD in sustainable fashion and textiles from Aalto University, was one of the speakers at the Summit’s afternoon session. During her talk, she highlighted the importance of increasing efforts aimed at reviving the Pakistani handicraft and cottage industry as one way of strengthening the creative economy, creating livelihoods, and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She shared that cooperation and partnerships between Finland and Pakistan are vital in bringing about scalable change.

Durrani has over 10 years of experience in the textile, clothing and craft sector. Originally from Pakistan, she has lived and worked in Finland since 2016, gaining a deep understanding of Finnish culture and business practices. While she acknowledges the reservations some Finnish companies might have, she encourages companies to be bold and explore trade development opportunities in Pakistan.

She mentions that few people realise that Pakistan is a country rich in diverse crafts. Often, Pakistan is associated with negative connotations, overshadowing its long-standing tradition of artistry and craftsmanship. Local markets buzz with artisans’ creations, reflecting cultural heritage and modern trends. This fusion supports local economies while promoting sustainable practices, highlighting Pakistan’s unique ability to merge artistic craftsmanship with commercial viability.

Marium Durrani meeting handcraft expert

Opportunities for businesses

Small and medium Pakistani enterprises (SMEs) are also eager to reach a wider international market and are open to forming partnerships with Finnish companies. Pakistan represents a lucrative market for a wide range of products due to its large and youthful population.

Investing in Pakistan’s textile, design and craft industry is particularly promising due to its rich cotton production, skilled labour force, diverse crafts, and competitive costs.

Innovation and sustainability

In recent years, Pakistan has also increasingly emphasised the importance of innovation and sustainability. Companies are keen to create more sustainable business practices. Thus, reflecting a growing awareness among Pakistani consumers and businesses about the importance of sustainability. However, many local manufacturers and designers are not always fully informed about eco-friendly materials, ethical production methods, and the long-term benefits of sustainability in the craft and textile sector. This gap in knowledge hinders the industry’s ability to compete globally in the increasingly important market for sustainable fashion.

To bridge this gap, Durrani shares that education, capacity building and collaboration with international experts are essential. Her work as an impact entrepreneur aspires to forge such partnerships between Finnish and Pakistani companies. Through the partnerships she aims to aid sustainable development in the fashion, craft and textile sector whilst also safeguarding the unique cultural heritage that Pakistan has to offer.

Durrani views Pakistan as a prime opportunity for Finnish businesses in these sectors. If you are interested in learning more or doing business in Pakistan’s textile and craft sector, reach out at: mariumdurrani@gmail.com

Following up on the visit to Pakistan in May, Finnpartnership organises a hybrid Matchmaking event on 17 September at 10-12. The event brings together Finnish and Pakistani textile, handicraft, fashion and home décor organisations. Read more and sign up to join.

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