Economic Development

Economic Development Programs

The United Nations Development Program states that equality and empowerment for women starts with economic independence. Loss of life due to the Taliban conflict and massive floods in Swat have created thousands of widows in the Swat Valley, who have no means of support.

For this reason, SRI started a Vocational Training Centers (VTCs) for women to teach them skills that will help them become independent and earn a living with dignity. 

Activities that we have started in Economic Development are:


SRI Methodology

SRI is partnered with the Roshni Centre for Women. The building is provided by the village, SRI pays the rent. Teachers, training materials and tools are provided by SRI.

At the completion of training each woman is given it toolkit related to the trade, to enable her to start work and/or her own business.

How we helped Shirina

Shirina has four daughters. Shirina’s husband died in a bomb attack by the Taliban. At the time she was expecting her fourth and youngest daughter. Having daughters and no male child put her in a social category called miraath, which is one of the worst curses in Pashto. Being miraath for Shirina meant that her husband’s property was inherited by his brothers and she was at their mercy. When we met Shirina, she was destitute, a non-entity with no status in a male-dominated society, all because she was unlucky to have daughters in a culture that only values male children. 

Women like Shirina can now join SRI’s Vocational Training Center, where they learn marketable skills, and are given toolkits and sewing machines so that they can start a business to provide for their families. At the VTC, women also get moral support, and can join a women’s group where they can identify their problems and solve them with others in the same situation.

Vocational Training Center Photo Gallery

Swat Relief Initiative is unique because we make every effort to ensure that our work is effective and follows the ideal concept of charity


Letter from the Founders

Dear Friends,

We have always felt a debt of gratitude to the social institutions under which we grew up: Pakistan in the 60’s.  Today, unfortunately, those institutions are but a pale semblance of what they used to be. We were privileged but came from families that, despite their station in society, gave and taught us to give of ourselves to those who were less privileged.

This background, and our subsequent achievements in life, put us in a position to help the most needy people in Pakistan.  We are most effective in Swat:  This is in the region we are from, this is where we best know the people and this is where the people know us well.

We started Swat Relief Initiative at a time when the people of Swat went through the first major trauma of three major disasters: the 2008 Taliban takeover, the ensuing 2009 war and the 2010 mega-floods.

The most vulnerable segments of Swati society are the women and children – they are our focus.  We bring the men along too, for they are key to helping develop a milieu in which women and children can grow into fully contributing members of society.

We have a holistic approach to social growth with programs in Social Mobilization, Health, Education, Economic Development and Sustainable Environment. While working in these areas of social development we partner, when necessary, with individuals and organizations that can supplement our expertise and impact.

Of course, we cannot do any of this without the help of your continuing generous contributions, which we continue to pledge will go directly to where they are needed the most: programs and projects on the ground that provide the greatest opportunity for less fortunate women and children to thrive.


Zebu and Arshad Jilani