By Usama Shahid
“True philanthropy requires a disruptive mind set, innovative thinking and a philosophy driven by entrepreneurial insights and creative opportunities”- Naveen Jain
This quote by Naveen Jain may not be directly attributed to the event held in B2 on Friday, but it is the only way to describe the distinguished speaker present at the event. Masarrat Misbah is not only one of the finest entrepreneurs in Pakistan but also one of the leading philanthropists present in our country. She is one of the few self-made women in Pakistan who possess an unending generosity to aid the rehabilitation of acid attack victims.
Misbah started the talk by explaining all the struggles she has faced in her life, beginning with her divorce in 1970. Her first husband left her and her son, for a reason she failed to remember, and she moved back in with her parents. She left for Europe, spending three years in a foreign territory, learning the art of being a beautician. Upon her return, she opened a salon in an apartment. There she would be scrutinised by neighbours on the work she was doing but she did not falter and continued her work. In this neighbourhood, she found her first victory. A neighbour that would disgrace her on a daily-basis came to her for help. Ms. Masarrat recalled this event as the first positive accomplishment in her career.
She continued her business of beauty salons and reached new heights, becoming one of the finest entrepreneurial persons in Pakistan. Along the way, she married again, only to meet the same end.
Masarrat Misbah recounted a day in 2003 as one of the most important and moving events in her life. Upon closing her clinic, Ms. Masarrat met a burqa-clad woman at her door. She asked her to return tomorrow, only to show a face decimated by an acid attack. The woman asked Ms. Masarrat to ‘fix her’.
But how could one struggling, independent woman just ‘fix’ an evil that ran so deep in the veins of our society?
This event turned her attention to all the acid attacked women in Pakistan, forcing her to donate charity and start small clinics for these women, many of whom have now remarried and are living a splendid life. This act of courage, selflessness and empathy is what separates Ms. Masarrat from all other entrepreneurs, who are merely operating a money-making business.
Masarrat Misbah has the most inspiring story I have ever heard and the fact that she uses her experience and struggles to make sure that no other woman suffers a similar or a more horrifying fate is truly astounding.