Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Young Pakistani-American Student Social Entrepreneur Fights Hunger

Hannah Dehradunwala, a Pakistani-American student at New York University, has co-founded Transfernation, a nonprofit startup with the aim of alleviating hunger beginning with New York City and Karachi. She has partnered with a fellow NYU student Samir Goel, an American of Indian descent. It's essentially an app and a website that enable leftover food at restaurants and corporate events to be distributed to the hungry.

Within hours of  Transfernation’s official launch on Oct.16 in conjunction with The Resolution Project’s New York City Gala, Dehradunwala and Goel had already overseen the transfer of 85 pounds of food leftovers from the Gala event to Bowery Mission, a social institution providing homeless New Yorkers with immediate help and long-term recovery programs, according to USA Today.

“Our gala celebrated sustainable living, and Transfernation enhanced the sustainability of the evening by making sure that any unused food from the event went to those who need it at the Bowery Mission,” George Tsiatis of the Resolution Project told USA Today.

In Karachi, Transfernation’s Pakistani subsidiary is currently in the process of building partnerships with local restaurants to transfer large food leftovers to charitable shelters. Hannah's friends in Pakistan are leading that effort. Transfernation is set to launch projects in Oxford, U.K. and Karachi, Pakistan later this academic year.

Data shows that vast amounts of food at restaurants and corporate and private events are wasted every day---food which could help dramatically reduce hunger. According to a recent report by UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI), about one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When this figure is converted to calories, this means that about 1 in 4 calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten. In a world full of hunger, uncertain food prices, and social unrest, these statistics are morally unacceptable.

Transfernation received $5,500 prize when it won the Resolution Project's Social Venture Competition at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in March this year. Hannah and Goel are raising additional funds for the startup via crowd-funding site Indiegogo.com.

Here's a video of the young social entrepreneurs' pitch for their startup:

http://dai.ly/x2ajbph



Transfernation Intro Video by uroojnaz6

http://youtu.be/p2tDgXdlfOQ




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Social Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley

Pakistani Village Girl Launches VC Funded Startup in San Francisco

Karachi Slum Girl Goes to Harvard

Success Stories of Pakistani-American Women

Hunger in South Asia 

Pakistani Woman Engineer Wins Grace Hopper Award

Working Women Bring About Silent Revolution in Pakistan

Status of Women in Pakistan

Microfinancing in Pakistan

Gender Gap Worst in South Asia

Status of Women in India

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sindhi Village Girl Umaima Mendhro Launches San Francisco Tech Startup

Vida, a  San Francisco technology startup co-founded by Umaimah Mendhro from Akri village in Sindh, Pakistan, has received $1.3 million funding from Google Ventures, Universal Music Group and others, according to Tech Crunch.

The startup bills itself as "socially responsible" with the objective of using technology to provide a way for designers, artists and other creatives  anywhere in the world to make a viable living through their work.

Vida CEO Umaima Mendhro joins a growing list of successful Pakistani-American women that includes Shama Zehra in finance, Shaan Kandawalla in technology, Shazia Sikandar in the Arts and Fatima Ali in fine cuisine.

“I am from a very small town in Pakistan and was home-schooled much of my life because we didn’t have proper schools around. I taught myself how to cut, sketch, sew, stitch, block print, screen print, oil paint, and more,” she told Tech Crunch. “Yet I couldn’t get myself to pursue art as a profession because I feared I wouldn’t be able to make a living with it,” Mendhro said. “With a love for fashion and design, I was also acutely aware of the hundreds of millions of people employed in textile and garment production, who could never get out of a cycle of poverty.”

Vida brings together painters, photographers, graphic designers, sculptors, 3D artists, architects, and textile and print designers from around the world who participate in the platform at no cost, then receive a 10% revenue share on products sold. Additionally, VIDA often works with its textile mills, printers, and cut and sew factories, removing the middleman costs from the equation. Vida uses "Direct to Fabric Digital Printing Technology" for its offerings.

Currently, VIDA designers include: Elle Magazine's 'Up and Coming Fashion Designer from Sweden, Emma Lundgren,' Vogue.com's top 10 fashion graduates to watch, Cigdem Keskin from Turkey, and Tokyo based 'Top Hat Designer of the Year,' Honoyo Imai. Manufacturing partners include: Karachi based fashion label and manufacturing houses, Sania Maskatiya and FNKAsia.

Umaimah has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Here's what she says about herself in her intro on HBS website: "I want to live a life that compels people who do not seem to share a common thread to see if, at a raw human level, we really are that different. A life that gives people reason to reason for themselves... to pause and question the comfortable assumptions. To form and inform beliefs. And never give up common sense for common opinion."

Here's a CNN story on Smartphone apps success in Pakistan:

http://dai.ly/x14vmjt


Pakistan Smartphone App Success by dm_51ea373e71f84


Haq's Musings

Karachi Slum Girl Goes to Harvard

Success Stories of Pakistani-American Women

Pakistani Woman Engineer Wins Grace Hopper Award

Working Women Bring About Silent Revolution in Pakistan

Status of Women in Pakistan

Microfinancing in Pakistan

Gender Gap Worst in South Asia

Status of Women in India

Female Literacy Lags in South Asia

Land For Landless Women

Are Women Better Off in Pakistan Today?

Growing Insurgency in Swat

Religious Leaders Respond to Domestic Violence

Fighting Agents of Intolerance

A Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

A Tale of Tribal Terror

Mukhtaran Mai-The Movie

World Economic Forum Survey of Gender Gap

Friday, November 14, 2014

World's Youngest Techie is a 5-year-old Pakistani Boy

5-year-old British Pakistani Ayan Qureshi is now the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in he world, according to the BBC. Ayan takes the title of world's youngest techie from Shafay Thobani of Karachi who was the youngest known Pakistani  to have become Microsoft Certified Professional at age 8 in 2012.

Ayan Qureshi in Home Computer Lab
Ayan was born in Lahore, but the family, including his mother, a doctor moved to London in 2009. His younger brother was born the UK in 2011. Ayan has set up his own computer lab at his home in Coventry, containing a computer network which he built.

Ayan's father who is an IT consultant introduced his son to computers when he was only three years old. He let him play with his old computers, so he could understand hard drives and motherboards. "I found whatever I was telling him, the next day he'd remember everything I said, so I started to feed him more information," he told the BBC.

Pakistani children have been making their mark in the information technology arena since 2005 when Arfa Karim made international headlines as the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional at age 9. Unfortunately she passed away at the tender age of just 16. Born in 1995, she achieved celebrity status after becoming the world's youngest computer expert at the age of 9, passing a tough series of Microsoft tests designed for software professionals. Her success brought her an invitation to Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, where she met its chairman, Bill Gates, and discussed her idea for a self-navigating car in 2005.

Arfa Karim died very young but she has inspired a whole new generation of Pakistani children to choose information technology and excel in the growing field. As a result, Pakistan has achieved the distinction of being the third most popular online IT outsourcing destination in the world. It augurs well for Pakistan's young but rapidly growing multi-billion dollar information technology industry.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Human Capital Growth in Pakistan

British Pakistani Reinvents Toilet

Pakistan 3rd Most Popular Outsourcing Destination

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistani Software Expert Helps Fight Terror

Pakistan IT Industry

Pakistan Leads Asia in Biometric IT Services

Pakistanis Studying Abroad

Pakistan Working Women

Quality of Higher Education in India and Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pakistani-American Women's Success Stories

Shama Zehra, Shaan Kandawalla, Shahzia Sikandar and Fatima Ali are among the many Pakistani-American women making their mark in America.

Shama Zehra is in finance, Shaan Kandawalla in technology, Shazia Sikandar in the Arts and Fatima Ali in fine cuisine.

Shama Zehra
Shama Zehra is the CEO of Wall Street firm Aligned Independent Advisors. She began her career as an entrepreneur in the apparel industry in Pakistan in 1991 with a women apparel firm co-founded with her mother and sister. Later, she moved in to financial services industry in 1995 where she has worked in Investment Banking, Consumer Credit Products and Private Wealth Management. Prior to forming Aligned, Shama worked with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered Bank and MCB Bank, the largest private sector bank in Pakistan in early nineties.

Shaan Kandawalla
Shaan is the CEO of PlayDate Digital which makes educational applications for kids. She started it in 2012 after many years of experience working at Nickelodeon and Hasbro. Apps produced by PlayDate feature Hasbro brands like Play-Doh, My Little Pony and Transformers. She is a rare female in a male-dominated world. A study by the mobile-tech company Appcelerator reported that 96 percent of all mobile-app developers are male, most between the ages of 20 and 29. Yet market research indicates that women are the app stores’ biggest customers. Women install 40 percent more apps than men, have 17 percent more paid apps and pay 87 percent more for those paid apps, according to data from Apsalar, a mobile-analytics company.


Shahzia Sikandar
Shazia Sikandar is best known for her Indo-Persian miniatures. Trained as a miniaturist at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, Sikander pursues this centuries-old tradition by challenging notions about the division of art and craft. Her work has been displayed at numerous solo and group exhibits at such national and international venues as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Gallery of Canada, the Venice Biennale 2005, and the Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris.


Fatima Ali, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), may be the only non-American female chef in any of 70 top New York City restaurants, according to a survey done by Voice of America. Her  unique blend of Pakistani spices and Western cuisines won her the top award of $10,000 on the popular Food Network TV show "Chopped".

Fatima Ali


Pakistani women in Pakistan are also increasingly joining the work force to contribute to nation's development. "More of them(women) than ever are finding employment, doing everything from pumping gasoline and serving burgers at McDonald’s to running major corporations", says a report in Businessweek magazine.



Beyond company or government employment, there are a number of NGOs focused on encouraging self-employment and entrepreneurship among Pakistani women by offering skills training and microfinancing. Kashf Foundation led by a woman CEO and BRAC are among such NGOs. They all report that the success and repayment rate among female borrowers is significantly higher than among male borrowers.



In rural Sindh, the PPP-led government is empowering women by granting over 212,864 acres of government-owned agriculture land to landless peasants in the province. Over half of the farm land being given is prime nehri (land irrigated by canals) farm land, and the rest being barani or rain-dependent. About 70 percent of the5,800 beneficiaries of this gift are women. Other provincial governments, especially the Punjab government have also announced land allotment for women, for which initial surveys are underway, according to ActionAid Pakistan.



Both the public and private sectors are recruiting women in Pakistan's workplaces ranging from Pakistani military, civil service, schools, hospitals, media, advertising, retail, fashion industry, publicly traded companies, banks, technology companies, multinational corporations and NGOs, etc.



Here are some statistics and data that confirm the growth and promotion of women in Pakistan's labor pool:

1. A number of women have moved up into the executive positions, among them Unilever Foods CEO Fariyha Subhani, Engro Fertilizer CFO Naz Khan, Maheen Rahman CEO of IGI Funds and Roshaneh Zafar Founder and CEO of Kashf Foundation.

2. Women now make up 4.6% of board members of Pakistani companies, a tad lower than the 4.7% average in emerging Asia, but higher than 1% in South Korea, 4.1% in India and Indonesia, and 4.2% in Malaysia, according to a February 2011 report on women in the boardrooms.

3. Female employment at KFC in Pakistan has risen 125 percent in the past five years, according to a report in the NY Times.

4. The number of women working at McDonald’s restaurants and the supermarket behemoth Makro has quadrupled since 2006.



5. There are now women taxi drivers in Pakistan. Best known among them is Zahida Kazmi described by the BBC as "clearly a respected presence on the streets of Islamabad".



6. Several women fly helicopters and fighter jets in the military and commercial airliners in the state-owned and private airlines in Pakistan.

Here are a few excerpts from the recent Businessweek story written by Naween Mangi:

About 22 percent of Pakistani females over the age of 10 now work, up from 14 percent a decade ago, government statistics show. Women now hold 78 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, and in July, Hina Rabbani Khar, 34, became Pakistan’s first female Foreign Minister. “The cultural norms regarding women in the workplace have changed,” says Maheen Rahman, 34, chief executive officer at IGI Funds, which manages some $400 million in assets. Rahman says she plans to keep recruiting more women for her company.

Much of the progress has come because women stay in school longer. More than 42 percent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students last year were girls, up from 30 percent 18 years ago. Women made up about 22 percent of the 68,000 students in Pakistani universities in 1993; today, 47 percent of Pakistan’s 1.1 million university students are women, according to the Higher Education Commission. Half of all MBA graduates hired by Habib Bank, Pakistan’s largest lender, are now women. “Parents are realizing how much better a lifestyle a family can have if girls work,” says Sima Kamil, 54, who oversees 1,400 branches as head of retail banking at Habib. “Every branch I visit has one or two girls from conservative backgrounds,” she says.

Some companies believe hiring women gives them a competitive advantage. Habib Bank says adding female tellers has helped improve customer service at the formerly state-owned lender because the men on staff don’t want to appear rude in front of women. And makers of household products say female staffers help them better understand the needs of their customers. “The buyers for almost all our product ranges are women,” says Fariyha Subhani, 46, CEO of Unilever Pakistan Foods, where 106 of the 872 employees are women. “Having women selling those products makes sense because they themselves are the consumers,” she says.

To attract more women, Unilever last year offered some employees the option to work from home, and the company has run an on-site day-care center since 2003. Engro, which has 100 women in management positions, last year introduced flexible working hours, a day-care center, and a support group where female employees can discuss challenges they encounter. “Today there is more of a focus at companies on diversity,” says Engro Fertilizer CFO Khan, 42. The next step, she says, is ensuring that “more women can reach senior management levels.”


The gender gap in South Asia remains wide, and women in Pakistan still face significant obstacles. But there is now a critical mass of working women at all levels showing the way to other Pakistani women.

I strongly believe that working women have a very positive and transformational impact on society by having fewer children, and by investing more time, money and energies for better nutrition, education and health care of their children. They spend 97 percent of their income and savings on their families, more than twice as much as men who spend only 40 percent on their families, according to Zainab Salbi, Founder, Women for Women International, who appeared on CNN's GPS with Fareed Zakaria.

Here's an interesting video titled "Redefining Identity" about Pakistan's young technologists, including women, posted by Lahore-based 5 Rivers Technologies:





Redefining Identity- How Young Technologists... by faizanmaqsood1010
Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani Woman Engineer Wins Grace Hopper Award

Working Women Bring About Silent Revolution in Pakistan

Status of Women in Pakistan

Microfinancing in Pakistan

Gender Gap Worst in South Asia

Status of Women in India

Female Literacy Lags in South Asia

Land For Landless Women

Are Women Better Off in Pakistan Today?

Growing Insurgency in Swat

Religious Leaders Respond to Domestic Violence

Fighting Agents of Intolerance

A Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

A Tale of Tribal Terror

Mukhtaran Mai-The Movie

World Economic Forum Survey of Gender Gap

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Are Pakistanis Better Off Now?

The number of Pakistanis reporting they are better off now has increased from 25% in 2002 to 51% in 2014, according to Pew Research Center report from its 43-nation survey on life satisfaction around the world. However, only 36% of those surveyed in Pakistan express personal optimism over the nest five years.



Among Pakistan's neighbors, 44% of Indians and 34% of Bangladeshis say they are now better off. Large majorities of Bangladeshis, Thais, Indonesians, Chinese, Filipinos and Indians expect their life in five years to be higher on the ladder than it is today. Pakistanis are considerably less sanguine about the future, but many say they don’t know where they will stand in five years (32%).



Here the key findings of the survey:

 1. On average, people in richer countries in America and Europe are generally happier than those in poorer, less developed countries.

 2. People in emerging economies, particularly in Indonesia, China, Pakistan and Malaysia with double-digit increases, are catching up with the sense of well-being expressed in richer countries.

3. Money isn’t everything.  People prioritize nonmaterial things – such as good health and a quality education for their child – as most important in life.

4. Social and political upheaval takes a heavy toll on individuals’ life satisfaction. The survey particularly cites declining life satisfaction in Egypt and Ukraine.

5. People in Asia and Africa are the most optimistic about the future – Middle Easterners are the least.

There is significant data to support Pakistanis belief that they are now better off than in 2002 or 2007.

Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India over the last two decades. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And Future.

Source: ADB
New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise described the rise of Pakistan's middle class in a story from Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh in the following words:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power. 
Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”


GeoTV is illustrating  this welcome phenomenon of upward social mobility in Pakistan with a series of motivational "Zara  Sochiey" videos on young men and women who have risen from humble origins to achieve significant successes in recent years. Each individual portrayed in the series has overcome adversity and  focused on acquiring education as a ticket to improve his or her economic and social situation.

GeoTV videos feature a number of young men and women, including Saima Bilal, Kashif Faiq,  Qaisar Abbas and many others, to inspire and encourage other Pakistanis to pursue their dreams against all odds.

Contrary to the incessant talk of doom and gloom, the fact is that the level of educational attainment has been rising in recent decades.  In fact, Pakistan has been increasing enrollment of students in schools at a faster rate since 1990 than India, according to data compiled and reported by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jhong-Wa Lee . In 1990, there were 66.2% of Pakistanis vs 51.6% of Indians in 15+ age group who had had no schooling. In 2000, there were 60.2% Pakistanis vs 43% Indians with no schooling. In 2010, Pakistan reduced it to 38% vs India's 32.7%.


As of 2010, there are 380 (vs 327 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis age 15 and above who have never had any formal schooling. Of the remaining 620 (vs 673 Indians) who enrolled in school, 22 (vs 20 Indians) dropped out before finishing primary school, and the remaining 598 (vs 653 Indians) completed it. There are 401 (vs 465 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis who made it to secondary school. 290 (vs 69 Indians)  completed secondary school  while 111 (vs. 394 Indians) dropped out. Only 55 (vs 58 Indians)  made it to college out of which 39 (vs 31 Indians) graduated with a degree.



Education and development efforts  are beginning to bear fruit even in remote areas of Pakistan, including Federally Administered Tribal Areas.  The Guardian newspaper recently reported that FATA's Bajaur agency alone has 616 school with over 60,000 boys and girls receiving take-home rations. Two new university campuses have been approved for FATA region and thousands of kilometers of new roads are being constructed. After a recent visit to FATA, Indian journalist Hindol Sengupta wrote in The Hindu newspaper that "even Bajaur has a higher road density than India"

 Prior to significant boost in public spending on education during Musharraf years, the number of private schools in Pakistan grew 10 fold from about 3000 in 1983 to over 30,000 in 2000. Primary school enrollment in 1983 has increased 937%, far greater than the 57% population increase in the last two decades.

Unfortunately, there has been a decline in public spending on education since 2008, even as not-for-profit private sector organizations, mostly NGOs, have stepped up  to try to fill the gap.  Last year, a Pakistani government commission on education found that public funding for education has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2007 to just 1.5% - less than the annual subsidy given to the various PSUs including PIA, the national airline that continues to sustain huge losses.

Clearly, this is not the time for Pakistan's political leadership to let up on the push for universal education. The momentum that developed in Musharraf years needs to be maintained, even accelerated to get to the goal of 100% literacy and 100% enrollment of all children in Pakistan. Nothing less will do if Pakistan is to achieve economic competitiveness on the global stage.

Here's a CNN video of shopping in Karachi:


http://vimeo.com/63260566



http://youtu.be/BMab0a7_Tcw

Related Links: