Pakistan: Land of Social Entrepreneurs

"All members of the Commission (on Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation) were agreed, Pakistan is a land of opportunity" i-genius Opportunity Pakistan Report April, 2014

i-genius, headquartered in London, calls itself a "World Community of Social Entrepreneurs". It promotes social entrepreneurship to a network in over 200 countries.


Last year in September, it sent fifteen people (Commissioners) from Australia, Italy, Pakistan and the United Kingdom to Pakistan to survey its social entrepreneurship landscape.  At the end of their trip, all 15 members of the team unanimously conclude that "Pakistan is a land of opportunity" for social entrepreneurship and innovation.  They said:

"The population (of Pakistan) is proportionately one of the youngest in the world. The youth predominately feel passionate about their country and are determined for it to succeed. Entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship seems almost natural to them, perhaps in part due to the lack of large employers. Where their parents forged family businesses in traditional practices often around clothes, food and retail, Pakistani youth are embracing new opportunities that arise from modern technology and creative industries. Likewise, women (young and old) are making an important contribution to the economy and becoming founders of their own businesses. Pakistanis have had to overcome many hardships, but this in turn has made them resourceful, robust and resilient. Such characteristics are ideal in shaping successful social entrepreneurs."

Particular areas they focused on include energy, water and housing.  Writing for the Guardian newspaper, Nishat Ahmad identified some of the key efforts being made in these two areas.

Clean Water:

Nishat Ahmad highlights Pharmagen Water. Founded in 2007, Pharmagen aims to provide poor communities in Pakistan’s second largest city, Lahore, with affordable clean and purified drinking water. It is supported by the Acumen, which invests in entrepreneurs and creates venture capital which can provide solutions to causes of poverty.


Off-grid Energy:

In energy sector,  SRE Solutions is helping with affordable solar panels for the poor. Established just last year with Acumen’s support it offers to harness solar energy for off-grid customers in districts of Punjab and Khayber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Affordable Housing:

Born after the 2005 earthquake, Ghonsla is working to build affordable housing for the poor. In the coming months Ghonsla is looking into increasing production and collaborating with another insulation firm based in Germany while working locally to increase the company’s footprint in Pakistan’s northern district of Chitral, a scenic yet underdeveloped area bordering the Himalayas.

Startup Finance:

In finance, Nishat Ahmed cites SEED, Social Entrepreneurship and Equity Development, a venture which supports startups and grassroots innovations. SEED provided initial funding for Ghonsla. Its incubation center in Pakistan provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs in their early years of startup. It was established by friends Faraz Khan and Khusro Ansari and runs five distinct projects, including StartUp Dosti, a business plan based competition for early stage startups in India and Pakistan. It seeks to build relationships between the next generation of entrepreneurs from the two countries and the wider South Asian diaspora. As part of this it also launched Pakistan’s first television program closely based on the BBC’s Dragons Den format. It is to be aired in India and Pakistan in November.

Other Sectors:

i-genius report on Pakistan also mentions their commissioners' meetings with other important social entrepreneurs such the Citizens Foundation (TCF) in education sector and Zacky Farms in sustainable agriculture.

i-genius report says that Pakistan's social entrepreneurs are actively seeking ways to fill the huge gaps created by successive governments' continuing neglect of the country's social sector and infrastructure needs.

Summary:

Pakistan has many problems in almost all areas including education, health care, food, water, energy, housing and infrastructure. But the country is also home to one of the youngest and most passionate populations which, in the words of i-genius commissioners, is "determined for it to succeed. Entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship seems almost natural to them, perhaps in part due to the lack of large employers. Where their parents forged family businesses in traditional practices often around clothes, food and retail, Pakistani youth are embracing new opportunities that arise from modern technology and creative industries. Likewise, women (young and old) are making an important contribution to the economy and becoming founders of their own businesses. Pakistanis have had to overcome many hardships, but this in turn has made them resourceful, robust and resilient. Such characteristics are ideal in shaping successful social entrepreneurs".

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Social Entrepreneurship in America and Developing World

TEDx Karachi

light Candles, Do Not Curse Darkness

Social Entrepreneurs Target India, Pakistan

Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Fighting Poverty Through Microfinance in Pakistan

Silicon Valley Summit of Pakistani Entrepreneurs 2008

Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

Media and Telecom Sectors Growing in Pakistan

Pakistan's Middle Class Growth in 1999-2009

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Without money or even a laptop to call her own, young Pakistani entrepreneur Sidra Qasim moved from her small hometown in 2011 to the big city of Lahore to start a business.

Her friend, Waqas Ali, asked her to join him as his business partner, and she moved into a hostel and took a job tutoring during the day. In the afternoon, she would walk 30 minutes to Ali's college campus where the two could use a free computer lab to work on their website. When the lab closed at 8, they went to the library and pored over copies of Harvard Business Review, reading case studies about start-ups.

Ali and Qasim are examples of a philosophy that some of the world's leading thinkers and philanthropists have been betting on: that the Internet and technology will help entrepreneurs in developing nations build wealth and pull themselves and their communities out of poverty.

In 2012, they had their first production run, and launched their business selling handcrafted shoes online. Within six months, their company, Markhor shoes, had sold 200 pairs of shoes in 17 countries.

"We were able to give jobs to 24 local craftsmen," says Qasim, who acknowledges that there is still work to be done, but it's a start. "In our next run we would like to increase their pay by two, and offer health benefits."

Technological advancements

Entrepreneurial advancements are especially impressive in the case of Pakistan, where power outages sometimes last 18 hours a day and foreign investment plummeted by almost a quarter in 2012 alone, according to the Central Bank. Facebook — the poster child of the new Internet age — was banned in Pakistan for a time in 2010, and YouTube, though easily reached through proxy servers, has been officially banned for four years.

And yet, information technology and communications is one of the fastest growing sectors in Pakistan's growing economy, which has seen its middle class double since 2002. In 2001, just 1 percent of the population was on the Internet; now Pakistan has 19 million Internet users, according to Census Bureau data.

"Even in small villages, people, especially young people, are using Twitter and Facebook," says Qasim. "People from my village order mangoes on their mobile."

Access to the Internet has made all the difference for young people like herself, says Qasim. Indeed, Ali, her hometown friend and business partner, got the idea for the online shoe business when he met local craftsmen in their village whose families have been making handmade shoes for generations, and saw their beautiful product. He thought they could find a wider audience by using Facebook and the Internet to market their goods.

Markhor's business links the old Pakistan with the new — in the glossy, hand-stitched shoes made in their local village, Ali and Qasim saw an opportunity that would exploit a hole in the market and employ local craftsmen who had been struggling to make ends meet.

Since 2000, Pakistani shoemakers had lost 90 percent of their business to China, leaving thousands without jobs. But the quality wasn't there with Chinese products. Ali and Qasim suspected that an international customer would appreciate a hand-crafted product that was hard to find, but available on the Internet.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865614783/Young-Pakistanis-use-Internet-to-embrace-start-up-culture-and-sell-handmade-leather-shoes.html
Riaz Haq said…
Small is beautiful - unless you are a business that wants to grow. In which case, small is not so appealing. In Pakistan, where 90 percent of businesses are small or medium, challenges to scaling-up businesses have kept the private sector from realizing their full potential and contributing as much as they could to the economy. To help address a major constraint to the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with local banks to boost lending to SMEs. The new $60 million "U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit" was launched at last week's U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, as part of a larger bilateral government effort to boost trade and investment in Pakistan.

Finance is an important enabler of economic growth anywhere in the world. For Pakistan, which needs annual economic growth of at least 7 percent just to keep up with the number of youth expected to enter the labor market each year, this financing is important not only for the economy but for stability. Yet the private sector credit to gross domestic product (GDP) and financial depth ratios in Pakistan trail behind leading emerging economies.

In the SME segment, the volume of lending and types of financing tailored to SME needs have been very limited. A World Bank study found that only 16 percent of total credit in Pakistan went to SMEs. Moreover, about 70 percent of SME borrowing was used for working capital while only about 12 percent went toward long-term investment. Another survey shows only 11 percent of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Pakistan report having access to finance, below the 15 percent international average and well below percentages reported in higher performing middle-income countries like Brazil and Turkey (30 and 48 percent respectively).

Despite these limitations, SMEs make an out-sized contribution to Pakistan's economy. The same World Bank study found that SMEs in Pakistan employ nearly 70 percent of workers in the manufacturing, services, and trade sectors and generate an estimated 35 percent of manufacturing's value addition. They also contribute over 30 percent of GDP and more than 25 percent of export earnings. Thus, alleviating a key constraint to their growth could lead to substantial increases in the number of jobs for Pakistan's large number of youth and greater income generation.

The new Partnership reflects a shared commitment to promote broad-based economic growth in Pakistan. Private sector investment was identified as an essential ingredient for growth in the Government of Pakistan's Vision 2025 strategy. The Partnership is part of a larger umbrella of U.S. support to SMEs in Pakistan to help them grow and expand into new markets. It will provide partner banks- Bank Alfalah, JS Bank, Khushhali Bank and First Microfinance Bank- with a loan portfolio guarantee through USAID's Development Credit Authority (DCA). The guarantee will lower the risk to the banks for lending in sectors they would otherwise perceive as being too risky. It will also encourage partner banks to extend longer-term loans and introduce credit products that address the needs of SMEs.

With more access to finance, small and medium businesses are poised to make even larger contributions to the Pakistan economy than they do now. The new U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit will make it possible for dynamic SMEs to be more than small and beautiful. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and for businesses eyeing scale-up, there are few things more attractive than being able to grow.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/borany-penh/eyeing-business-growth-in_b_6865186.html
Riaz Haq said…
"Idea Croron Ka" to launch as #Pakistan’s first #RealityTV #business show. #SharksTank #startup http://bit.ly/2jEpggK via @techjuicepk

Chaudhry Muhammad Akram Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CMACED) at Superior University and Neo TV are joining hands to launch Pakistan’s first TV reality business show — Idea Croron Ka. The show is a manifestation of the announcement made during a roundtable event held back in September 2015 by PITB.

Back in 2015, it was announced that ­Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director Entrepreneurship at PITB, will host a technology show which will be telecasted on a leading TV channel.

After nearly a year of planning and development, Neo TV and CMACED at Superior University have come together to launch Idea Croron Ka. This show will strive to improve and promote the entrepreneurial spirit among individuals in Pakistan and thus transform them into job creators rather than job seekers. The idea is more or less a local version of reality show Shark Tank. Shark Tank has been massively popular among the business community worldwide, a lot of founders have achieved success owing to their appearance on the show.

Idea Croron Ka will give budding entrepreneurs a platform to present their ideas to business tycoons and investors, who will analyze their ideas and help them transform into a reality. It will also feature a segment focusing on prominent figures in Pakistan who have undergone hardships to ultimately achieve their goals.

The show will soon air on Neo TV and will feature prominent names from business and technology fields as judges and investors. Below is the official press release from NEO TV end.


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