College student's website helps low-income in Pakistan

Shaheena Bibi sits with her brothers in a make-shift tent in suburbs of Islamabad, Pakistan on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
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SHERMAN, TX -- A local college student was inspired to create a website to raise funds for Pakistani women in need. For this Mom's Everyday Money segment, we'll uncover the philanthropic side of e-commerce websites.

"We saw poverty while we were in Pakistan and it became kind of like the norm for us," said Sameen Wajid, founder of Jashna Design.

Sisters Sameen and Zareen Wajid didn't fully realize the state of their home country until after they came to the U.S. 15 years ago.

"We take frequent trips back to Pakistan every 4-5 years and when we saw it, it was different and we saw it from a different perspective," said Sameen.

Now a senior at Austin College, Sameen took a trip to her birth place of Karachi as part of the school's Global Outreach Program to teach English to the area kids at an orphanage.

"I was all alone and then I really saw poverty," Sameen said. "I saw the toll that it takes on people and I just had a lot of time to step back and really think about it."

Then she met a girl who was sold into servitude for 20 dollars a year at the age of 12. Sameen had to share this with her older sister.

"There's so much poverty going on and these women are so talented," Sameen told Zareen. "I just want to save everyone. Like what do we do and she was like we can continue to talk about it or we can actually do something it."

That's where comes in. It's an e-commerce website the sisters created to showcase the handmade art, jewelry and clothing of these low-income women. Zareen, who has a Masters in International Business, is the co-founder and handles the finances. She helps make sure money from products sold on the site goes back to the women in Pakistan.

"These girls get married around 16, 17, 18," said Zareen. "They start taking care of their husbands and their families and then they have kids and their kids end up doing the same thing and so our goal is to keep the kids in school, not get out in 5th grade so they have a choice to do something else. Not that there's anything wrong with being a maid, being in servitude, we're all about hard work but we want everyone to have a choice."

Web designer Abdurrahman Allawalla, also a senior a Austin College, created a site that would be simple to navigate and give the customers a broad view of traditional Pakistani wear.

"This is really focused towards women," he said. "The women that create the products and the women that can wear the products."

Everyone involved in making this site does it to raise money for the low-income women of Pakistan and maybe put a smile or two on their faces.

"The women spend such a long time and like it takes a lot of needle work and a lot of detailed designs with the scarves and jewelry," said Sameen. "So they're so thankful when somebody buys something and they're always like 'Oh, somebody bought something I made!' and it's so exciting for them."

Purchases on Jashna Design dot com go towards their end of October goal of five-thousand dollars. Since the site began last month, they've already raised 30 percent of that amount in their ongoing effort to empower low-income women. The team, listed here, also spent countless free hours putting together other social media sites on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Sameen Wajid, Founder
Zareen Wajid, Co-Founders
Abdurrahman Allawala,Web Designer
www.FACEBOOK.COM/JashnaDesign by Shruti Hedge
/TWITTER@JashnaDesign by Akshara Vivekananthan/
PINTEREST by Vashanthi Gomathinayagam

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