PAKISTAN NEEDS POLICY FORMULATION ON TRAINING,FUNDING, SUPPORTING THE START UP INITIATIVES BY YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Islamabad(Tazeen Akhtar) Pakistan is a young nation because  more or less  60% of the population is under the age of 35 years. It can become a blessing only when we lead the young men and women towards better career building. Our universities are passing out thousand of educated youngsters, adding into already flooded market of unemployed youth. Therefore it is need of the hour to give them a right direction through guidance and support. Government is seen as the single source of employment by most of the job seekers but matter of fact is that so many jobs cannot be made available in Government departments. In a country that is badly affected by the menace of street crimes, extremism and above all the terrorism, how much dangerous can be unemployed youth and that in hundreds of thousands in number? Answer is clear and does not need any science or study to understand its consequences. Hence it should be our first priority to set goals for our youth and enlighten them to achieve them. We have to convince them that they can be the master of their destiny by taking their own start.   .Entrepreneurship is considered the only way to address the growing problem of unemployment. Young people should be encouraged to start their own businesses that would not only make them beneficial for themselves but also for their families and ultimately for their homeland as well.

StartUp Pakistan is a project initiated for the same objective by Amna Malik,C.E.O of Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR). The project arranged a round table, on Nov 18, 2017, in collaboration with Global Entrepreneurship Network (G.E.N), in which stakeholders from Public and Private sectors were invited to a dialogue on policy making for StartUp Pakistan. Complete conformity was found among all the speakers that the Government should formulate a policy to guide and fund the young entrepreneurs who intend to start up their own ventures.

The speakers included C.E.O Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR)and Start Up project Amna Malik, President G.E.N, Kashif Mohammad Khan, Yousaf Hussain,C.E.O IGNITE( ICT R&DFund, Ministry of I.T), Chaudhary Abdul Rauf, former Federal Secretary and Tax Ombudsman, Dr Shaheena Waheed, Representative of United Nations Industrial Organization(UNIDO), Masooma Sibtain, Vice President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce, Sheharyar Haydri, Secretary General Pakistan Softwares Houses Association P@SHA, Mr Faisal from NUST Incubation Project,Zeshan Bashir, Asif Sherazi, Entrepreneurs from U.S.A, Anila Fatima, Dr Aziz, Barkat Ullah Samijo, Mubashar Ehsan,Imran Shah,Shahzad Panni, Uzma Umar, Farhana, Aal e Imran,Naveed Ashraf,Faisal Khan,Tayyab Chattha and others from IT experts, Enterpreneurs,NGOs' Heads, Youth repersentatives also shared their views.

 President G.E.N, Kashif Mohammad Khan said that Pakistan needs to be member of start up nations. 65 countries are members of this group. Every year in November GEN hosts a world level activity on start up. India is hosting entrepreneurship summit this November. We are working on bringing this activity into Pakistan and for that we need support from the Government. Pakistan needs policies to be formulated by taking all stakeholders on board.

C.E.O COPAIR and Start Up project Amna Malik said that we are working on two types of youth. 1-Educated from Universities 2- Out of Universities. We deal with women empowerment as well. She referred to her project E-Woman in which women are trained to sell their handicrafts through E-Business. She said that our youth initiative has been launched in consultation with Chambers of Commerce and we work with Small Industries also. She said that we are signing an agreement with SAARC in Dec 2017. Amna Malik said that start up touches our heart and we are here to extend any type of support for that purpose.

Yousaf Hussain,C.E.O IGNITE( ICT R&DFund, Ministry of I.T) briefed the participants about the steps their institution has taken so far. He said that there are 43 Million internet users in Pakistan. IGNITE is working on setting up local internet station in Pakistan so that our internet traffic will not have to travel to other country. He threw light on his departments launched incubation centers throughout Pakistan. He said that one incubation center has been launched in Islamabad. Karachi and Lahore will get these centers in the next year. He said that we need digital training of our citizen and youth. About start ups, Yousaf Hussain said that this the world of innovation. We invite and encourage innovative ideas that we examine as feasible and workable before funding and supporting them. He said most of the big companies of present day were start ups 20 or 30 years ago. We focus start ups as the possible successful company of the future. We are always ready to attract, encourage, fund and train our youth for start ups.

Chaudhary Abdul Rauf, former Federal Secretary and Tax Ombudsman enlightened the participants about tax issues in the new businesses. He recommended early refunds for the development of new businesses as they are in dire need of funds. He said that when he assumed charge of Federal Tax Ombudsman the refund cases of approximately 250 Billion were pending since long. He pointed out that we have to evolve and agree upon a definition of what is business. We still have not defined Business. Our authorities are not completely autonomous. There are different policies on federal and provincial levels.

Dr Shaheena Waheed, Representative of United Nations Industrial Organization (UNIDO) said that our organization seeks innovative ideas from the youth of Pakistan on clean technology every year. The winners receive awards and visit Silicon Valley for further information and knowledge. She said that there is no clean technology in Pakistan. Therefore we support innovative ideas in this field. For start ups, she recommended to establish Small and Medium Industry Centers where government can provide consultancy and training. She said that UNIDO will start SME awards and will set up Renewable Energy Fund. She appreciated IGNITE's endeavors for supporting the youth entrepreneurs.

Masooma Sibtain, Vice President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce presented the state of affairs in south Punjab and Multan region as she hails from the area. She said that 20 % of handicrafts of Pakistan are manufactured in this area. The first woman chamber of commerce was established in Multan in 2008. More than 50% women are in start ups. Small and Medium Industries Development Authority formulated a policy in 2007 but it carried nothing for woman. Only a small portion can be found in present policy but that is about jewelery sector alone. Woman Small and Medium Industries are totally ignored. She assured full support for startups from FPCCI.

Sheharyar Haydri, Secretary General Pakistan Software Houses Association P@SHA said that Pakistan has enormous talents in software and IT sector. Our organization has shifted our headquarters from Karachi to Islamabad for betterment and to reach to more talent and policy makers. He said our youth can not do business in an environment where they are surrounded by corrupt bureaucracy and tax officials. Our entrepreneur is ready to be registered in tax net but harassment cannot be endured.

Mr Faisal from NUST Incubation Project apprised the stakeholders about the preparation of young students for future challenges.

The participants emphasized upon the concerned authorities and the governments of Pakistan and provinces to look into the arrangements of convincing, training, funding, supporting and securing the startup sector if we intend to give our youth a bright future that will also bring peace and economic stability in the country.