This Pakistani sharing economy start-up brings you beauticians on demand

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On-demand start-ups such as Uber and Airbnb have been criticised for increasing income inequality, but a fledgling company in Pakistan wants to ease such concerns.

GharPar, which translates loosely as “AtHome”, provides beauty services at your doorstep. It’s a recent start-up, mainly operated in stealth mode since September, but it’s starting to make a real impact on the lives of its freelance beauticians.

“The basic inspiration behind the idea was that we realised there’s a lot of exploitation in the salon business,” says Arooj Ismail, co-founder. “The average beautician in these parlours, according to both official statistics and our findings, is only paid roughly $80 a month. They get a little bit extra as tips but that’s about it.”

Arooj explains that there’s an existing network of freelance beauty professionals in the country — but they’re highly fragmented, don’t offer uniformity of service, and often have poor work ethic. As a result, they’re not able to solicit much business.

Another issue is that payment for services rendered is almost always left to the client’s discretion. 

Arooj says it took a lot of convincing and working closely with the communities to get them on board. One of the co-founders also manages a salon, so they tapped into her networks as well. Little by little, people started to warm up to it.

There are now 17 freelance beauticians on board. GharPar takes a 30 per cent cut on each transaction to pay for overheads and marketing expenditures. But the women feel safe, secure, and have a lot more disposable income. A 15 to 20 per cent cut is typical for on-demand startups. Uber takes 25 per cent, not including any booking fees.

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