Bushra Latif Is Changing The Parenting Game

Bushra Latif Is Changing The Parenting Game
Bushra Latif, a relatively new name on the Pakistani startup scene is making waves as the face behind Nani.pk, a platform for the modern-day parents in Pakistan. Hailing from DeraIsmael Khan, she has carved a name for herself as a driven, enthusiastic young entrepreneur looking to make a difference where it matters. Nani.pk provides items necessary for childcare to parents living in remote areas where accessibility to quality baby-care and childcare items is usually hindered.

However, apart from housing more than 50 brands on the website, it is essentially a space where parents can feel supported on their journey and find sound advice as they undertake one of the most challenging tasks of their lives. It allows them access to valuable insights into the world of parenting and to share the experience with other like-minded people. Nani.pk is currently operating out of COLABS, in Gulberg, Lahore spearheaded by Bushra, its founder and CEO.

M: You've launched a platform that is surely going to help and appeal to out a lot of parents especially from our generation. To start off, could you tell our readers a little about nani.pk

B: Nani stands as a lighthouse for new parents in the country. The platform is a one-stop-shop that doesn’t just focus on bringing Pakistan-centric products to a mother’s doorstep, but it also provides comprehensive support and comfort to new parents and their children through its empathetic character, Nani. We want to foster knowledge about parenting and also fill the gap that modern day living has created: in our parents’ generation, joint family life was commonplace. It inculcated support and community, especially when a baby was being welcomed into the home. Today with young couples moving away from the larger family system, there’s little support in terms of how best to raise your child, and so on. Therefore, Nani hopes to fill that very gap.

M: What essentially drove you to start this business? Where did the idea come from? 

B: It came from seeing the women in my community, in DeraIsmail Khan, struggle to find the right products and the right guidance during their new parenting journeys. I wanted to facilitate women in Pakistan after seeing the concerns and anguish young mothers around me were facing and the lack of advice they had. There was little accessibility to children’s and baby’s products, but more than that, there was zero support in terms of knowledge regarding childcare and effective parenting.

M: The name is something that a lot of us will feel drawn towards. What made you choose this name in particular? 

B: The character, Nani, is a warm, loving grandmother figure who doesn’t judge or criticize. She’s open-hearted and sweet, but above all, she’s very knowledgeable about parenting. She’s modern, worldly, wise and educated. She loves the arts, enjoys playing Bridge and stays up to date with the happenings in the world. Hence, Nani as a name and as a personality made sense for my platform. It immediately evokes the feeling of, ‘I’m taken care of here.’

M: It's safe to say that a lot of parents would love to have a platform where they can get everything they need under one roof. What would you say sets nani.pk apart from other such platforms? 

B: Nani isn’t just another e-commerce platform that simply sells products. It goes far beyond that by creating a safe space that allows parents to gain insight into parenting in the modern world. Think of the platform as a complete ‘How To Parent’ for new families starting out on their parenting journey. That being stated, we’ve recently launched three initiatives to facilitate our customers. These are; Nani kay Totkay (simple home remedies), Nani ki Kahaniyan (storytelling for children) and also a character called Shagufta (a young mother who poses her concerns to Nani, after which Nani provides answers).

Also what sets us apart is how we’re focused on providing our support and deliveries to remote, far-flung areas where there is little accessibility. Growing up in Dera Ismail Khan, I saw how women in my family and outside my family had to rely on getting specific products for their children from bigger cities. Nani hopes to cater to the needs of every parent – from the big cities to the smaller cities.

M: What was the research process like before you launched the business? Did you conduct any focus groups or discussions with potential customers? 

B: Through data we researched the internet market in Pakistan and how it was rapidly increasing. In addition, we looked into the child and baby care retail niche in the country and its current standing. Plus, we also studied the local customer, understood their profile and what their needs were. Apart from that we also conducted extensive surveys that were focused around motherhood in certain locations. Recently, we conducted an online survey regarding specific needs of mothers. Our research is an ongoing process at Nani as it gives us great insight into our customer base and the market in general.

M: You've mentioned that nani.pk is sort of like an umbrella brand for the items listed. Can you tell us a bit more about how that works and what sales model you follow? 

B: Nani is an umbrella brand that encompasses outsourced local brands on its platform. Currently we work within five categories (not set in stone since we’re going to continue expanding!). These are children’s products (formula milks sourced through credible pharmacies such as Fazal Din), children’s apparel, children’s hardware (feeding bottles, etc), children’s furniture and also children’s workshops (online co-curricular activities and physical play/work spaces). All our products go through a rigorous quality check before they’re dispatched to our customers through our logistics partner.

M: How has the brand been received so far? 

B: By the grace of God, we’ve been getting a lot of appreciation and limelight since our soft launch this year. We already have a 1,000 mothers on board with us who are avid users of the Naniplatform. I’m sure we’ll be able to reach even more mothers and parents in the New Year!

M: What has been the greatest challenge for you throughout this journey? 

B: The biggest challenge is onboarding brands for a platform like ours. Luckily however, we were able to bring on board 30 brands before our launch and today – in a short span of two months – we currently have 50 respected brands featured on the Nani platform.

M: Do you feel as if your education and background played a part in you deciding to launch nani.pk

B: I don’t think so. Education would have only given me the exposure. But I was always inherently the type of person who wanted to do something in her life; to give back and make an impact in society. I was always the square peg in a round hole. Executing ideas and creating change was so – and still is – exciting to me. I hail from a conventional Pakhtun family that was initially not very keen on my entrepreneurship dreams, but it eventually worked out when they saw my drive and passion. And that’s how it has been for me from day one.

M: What does a typical day at nani.pk look like for you? What's your routine like? 

B: Mondays are our team meetings where we decide our deliverables for the week. That’s when we jointly map out everything for each team member. I then check my email, give time to each department, particularly marketing (given our new initiatives and new brands coming on board). Then, since we’re getting investment ready, my focus is heavily focused on applications and so on. It’s intensive but very gratifying.

M: Do you feel as if the Pakistani business community encourages new entrepreneurs? What has the experience been like for you? 

B: The startup ecosystem in Pakistan is very supportive and welcoming. There’s so much exposure if you’re working for a startup or linked to one in any way. They reach out to you, the seniors and the juniors alike, so it’s been quite wonderful. People have been very responsive to me since I started out with Nani and I couldn’t be more thankful to them.

M: Where do you see nani.pk in five years’ time?

B: I see it as a household name in Pakistan that will have great brand recall. I want to see it grow into a more holistic platform that will facilitate mothers across the board (single mothers and parents alike). I see a lot of growth within the brand and a lot of technology that will be integrated within the platform. Exciting things ahead!

Minaal Mohsin Maan is a freelance journalist who mostly writes on human rights, literature and lifestyle. Her debut novel, Our Tainted Souls is available all over Pakistan and has stellar reviews on Goodreads. She can be reached at minaalmohsin@hotmail.com