Islamabad, Pakistan - Today, the first Women’s Entrepreneurial Centers of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) Center opened in Islamabad, Pakistan. U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson, Department of State Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Scott Nathan, and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell gave remarks, along with Pakistan’s Additional Secretary for the Ministry of Commerce Robina Ather to commemorate this milestone at a ribbon cutting ceremony.

This is the first of a number of WECREATE Centers to be launched by the U.S. Department of State to empower women and promote entrepreneurship globally. The Department plans to launch additional Centers in sub-Saharan Africa and the Lower Mekong sub-region.

Unleashing the economic potential of women is a powerful tool to drive economic growth and prosperity. Women entrepreneurs are integral to stable and thriving formal economies, but often face disproportionate barriers, including gender-based, cultural and social discrimination. WECREATE Centers are designed to be safe and in centralized locations where women can access essential resources needed to overcome these barriers and start or grow their businesses.

The Centers will build the capacity of women business owners and support women-led businesses as they transition from entities operating in the informal economy to formally registered companies. Each Center will also tailor its portfolio of programs, tools and events to address the unique needs of women entrepreneurs in the country where it operates.

Funded through the Secretary’s Full Participation Fund, WECREATE | Pakistan is being launched in partnership with the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, a public-private partnership launched by the U.S. Department of State in 2012 to increase women’s economic participation in Pakistan. Through its network, the Council will explore opportunities to facilitate the integration of businesses owned by women entrepreneurs, including those trained through WECREATE | Pakistan, into the supply chains of companies operating in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Center is also supported by a $151,000 in-kind contribution from StartUp Cup, an organization that focuses on building entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world. Other partners include Tie Islamabad, Change Mechanics, and the Hashoo Foundation.