PTI Resolves Unleashing Youth Entrepreneurial Potential

It is axiomatic to posit that there is a linkage between youth and national integration. This connection is not only symbiotically connected; but, one depends on the other for its sustenance. Therefore, the role of youth in national development cannot be over emphasised. The wheel of development of any country lies on the shoulder of how productive and creative the youthful populations are. The youth in any society are the engine of growth and development; because, they provide the labour force for production of goods and service to take effect. The vision of our country lies in the hands of our youth. They are filled with tremendous and towering ambitions.

The enigma of unemployment…

Unemployment is an active person without a job. Unemployment rate is usually used to measure the health and wealth of the economy of a nation. The most frequently cited measure of checking unemployment is the unemployment rate. This is the number of persons in the labour market, divided by the number of persons in the labour force. This gives the number of persons without job. Indeed, unemployment is an ugly phenomenon that plagues economies around the world. The society and citizenry suffer adversely while poverty increases by virtue of it.

When a nation has high unemployment rate, it creates room for societal ills and or vices. No economy can thrive with high level of unemployment. The consequences of unemployment are grave and as such need to be checked.

As the global economy recovers but with a growing labour force, global unemployment in 2018 is projected to remain at a similar level to last year’s, says a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO). According to the World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2018 report, the global unemployment rate has been stabilizing after a rise in 2016. It is expected to have reached 5.6 per cent in 2017, with the total number of unemployed exceeding 192 million persons.

As the long-term global economic outlook remains modest despite stronger than expected growth in 2017, the report attributes the positive trend between 2017 and 2018 mainly to the strong performance of labour markets in developed countries, where the unemployment rate is projected to fall by an additional 0.2 percentage points in 2018 to reach 5.5 per cent, a rate below pre-crisis levels.

In contrast, employment growth is expected to fall short of labour force growth in emerging and developing countries, but has nevertheless improved compared to 2016. “Even though global unemployment has stabilized, decent work deficits remain widespread: the global economy is still not creating enough jobs. Additional efforts need to be put in place to improve the quality of work for jobholders and to ensure that the gains of growth are shared equitably,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

The menace of youth unemployment worldwide…

Youth unemployment includes unemployed individuals aged 15 to 24, a typical age range to have either just finished school or graduated and looking for jobs. In order to be registered as unemployed, a person must be able to work, unemployed and looking for a job. Usually youth unemployment is higher than adult unemployment, since many graduates do not find employment right after they have graduated.

According to the development of youth unemployment in regions of the world, the rate is the highest in the Middle East, as is the general unemployment rate worldwide. To escape unemployment, it has become quite common in some parts of the world to leave ones hometown and look for work elsewhere. A look at youth employment prospects shows that optimism among young people in finding a good job is decreasing even among those who are not unemployed; especially in the countries struggling due to the economic crisis, hope to find a job that pays better than the current one to enable the young employees to live a better life than their parents is practically non-existent. Still, even though the global youth unemployment rate has been increasing slightly over the last few years, it is projected to remain stable in the future.

Youth unemployment in Pakistan…

The youth unemployment in Pakistan has surged to 9.1 per cent in 2015 from 6.5pc in 2007, according to National Human Development Report. The report “Unleashing the Potential of Young Pakistan” said, the youth

between 15-29 years made up 41.6pc of the country’s total labour force (between 15-64 years). It added that the 9.1pc rate in 2015 was still lower than the one in 2004. International Labour Organisation put the unemployment for 15-24 age group at 10.8 pc. It seeks to understand the country’s human development challenges and opportunities from the prism of youth and focuses on how to improve human development outcomes by empowering young people, addressing the root causes of the obstacles they face, and by proposing innovative ways to surmount these challenges.

Luckily Pakistan has privilege of having 63% of its total population comprising young people of below 25 year of age. In this age of competition ,the presence of highly educated and technically skilled young people in the country can play a significant role in guaranteeing an elevated status it in the comity of nations.

The causes of youth unemployment…

There is need to have a close look of the reasons behind this youth unemployment. By averting these reasons more opportunities can be engraved. Youth unemployment is being recognised as one of the problems that could grow into global proportions in the coming years causing social and economical problems for the societies.

Lack of right skills…

There are thousands of colleges globally that are churning out graduates yearly however, when most of these graduates get to the job market, they realize they lack the right skills to fit into today’s job market. This is because school curriculums are not being updated fast enough to keep up and meet the present day needs of employers.

This is a problem that is affecting youth in both developed and underdeveloped countries. This inability of young people to transition from college to work due to lack of the right skills is therefore a big contributor to youth unemployment.

Lack of entrepreneurship skills

The world has been very slow to respond to the challenge of youth unemployment. In spite of data indicating that there aren’t enough jobs in the market for the millions of youth graduating from high schools and colleges around the world, there hasn’t been sufficient emphasis on imparting entrepreneurial skills on young people so that they can have the option of self-employment as opposed to expecting a white collar job after school. Most youth therefore end up lacking sufficient skills to start income generating enterprises.

Lack of sufficient capital

There are a number of youth who are entrepreneurial in nature and would be in a position to start their businesses as opposed to wallowing in unemployment. However, most of them will lack sufficient capital to start these enterprises. There are not many financial institutions out there ready to offer such enterprising young people with loans to start their businesses and if they are, these loans are seldom affordable. According to the World Bank, less than one per cent of loan portfolios of financial institutions are allocated to young people under the age of 30.

The digital divide

The world today has literally gone digital, as most of the day to day services that people seek are now being accessed digitally. For employment, this therefore means that most professions will now require a person to be digitally savvy. However, not everyone is privileged enough to get the opportunity to acquire digital skills. This is especially true for a number of low-income countries, which not only lack skills but also access to the internet and other technologies. Young people from such countries therefore end up

being disadvantage and can’t compete for opportunities in the job market.

COPAIR and GEN changing exploring the unexplored…

Ali a very talented guy from Sargodha has got MBA degree for Punjab University but unfortunately the quest of job proving to be a big failure for him since last two years. Once asked what he intend to do now? His answer was very astonishing. “I want to start my own business as I have some investment with me, but the real issue is the lack of knowledge regarding startup as well as the selection of the business for me within this certain amount of investment” he revealed. This is not merely the story of one person. There are many other young people like Ali in Pakistan who have got talent, and they want to do something with a pragmatic approach. Apart from the educated youth, there are few who might not be that educated but their skills are enormous.

They want to improve their economic life so to have a surge in their living standards. Women are specially the ones who have varied skills and by investing in their skills they can bring changes in the life of their entire family. After analyzing the whole situation in Pakistan, Center of Pakistan and international relations (COPAIR) has joined hands with Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN).

The purpose behind this collaboration and launching the startup campaign across Pakistan is the provision of a platform for the young entrepreneurs so that they can take a step forward and finally a leap straight to their destination.

Purpose behind the collaboration…

COPAIR and GEN has actually understood that, startups and Entrepreneurship should be looked at as an alternative besides other methods of creating employment opportunities. However, there is a need for global recognition and promotion of Youth entrepreneurship on sustained long term basis for this field certainly holds a promising future.

The collaborated partners have acquaintance with the phenomenon that revolution in technology and the resultant growth in all fields and globalisation has impacted the World.

Developing countries are growing rapidly both in terms of economic development as well as population. Growing economies provide ample opportunities for services and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to set up small enterprises in different fields. There are huge opportunities for individual enterprise in IT Services, Financial services, Travel and Tourism, Food, Supply Chain, Health Care services and many more fields.

While some countries economies are not growing and the unemployment is growing, in the developing countries which are registering higher economic growth, there is no impetus for growth of youth entrepreneurship.

Advocacy and beacon of startups…

Collaboration of COPAIR and GEN is actually focused on several important factors with aim to develop more startup opportunities particularly for the youth of Pakistan. While owning a business may be a personal dream for many, managing a business may prove difficult because of a lack of prior business ownership, experience or management skills. An honest self-evaluation will allow you to assess your personal characteristics and determine your willingness to meet the demands of owning your own business. Here the startup campaign will certainly play its role. Many questions will be answered and certain information will be gathered before determining the feasibility of your business idea. Careful research and analysis will help you in evaluating your concept and assist you in assessing your idea. The startup campaign is all about your business success from the conceptual level to its promotion and eventually to meet the goals in terms of a successful venture. It is important to remember that every business is unique. Taking time to explore your concept will help you identify those specific factors that make your business concept unique. Market research tells you who your customers are, where they are, and how large the potential market is. This particular factor or procedure is also part of the campaign. The prospect of starting a new business is exciting for any entrepreneur. With a few conceptual ideas, you may feel ready to move forward to make your new business a reality. Planning is an important phase of a business startup. You should ensure that you have mapped out your new company’s model for success.

1. Socio-Cultural Factors and startups

In some of the countries the social and cultural outlook of the societies may not encourage startups and entrepreneurship. Many societies expect the youth to obtain education that enables them to get a job and earn salary to support the family. Economic compulsions too can push the families to encourage youth to look for jobs and not look at opportunities. In some cases certain caste or class of people are habituated to practicing certain occupations and thus entrepreneurship becomes a prerogative of certain sections of the society. Some other societies are risk averse and tend to play safe, while many communities believe in their children pursuing defence services opportunities or social service opportunities and so on. This is what COPAIR and GEN are advocating to the youth of Pakistan.

2. Economic & Political Factors

Economies which are not growing are grappling with huge unemployment problems and this is affecting the youth too. When the economy is down and the business is not doing well, there will be no opportunities for small entrepreneurs to provide services to support the economy and business. Political will to focus on youth in the country and to create a positive environment that encourages youth to dream and work towards realising their dream is very much necessary in any society. It is the political will that can spearhead the Youth revolution. Absence of stability in the political situation of the country and the political party’s outlook towards this area can make or break the youth entrepreneurship’s growth.

3. Policy framework

Government policy and framework in the country helps identify and build the base for youth startups and entrepreneurship. The policies need to encourage and provide opportunities as well as assistance and environment to give impetus to youth entrepreneurship and have got to be implemented at national, regional and local levels. Policy directives will need to engage the business, banking, educational and other sectors to be able to deliver definitive steps to encouraging and aiding youth entrepreneurship. The said collaboration actually highlighted that Lack of such policy framework can hinder the growth and initiative in the youth.

4. Industry Support & Patronage

In any industry, it is largely the business sector that provides opportunities for support services and creating new networks of business enterprises. Similar to their role in social responsibility, Industry can create a very strong platform to help develop the youth and give them the support and guidance as well as opportunities to the youth. In society where the industry enterprise is not very significant or not very active, there can be no encouragement for youth entrepreneurship.

5. Education System & Orientation

In most of the countries today the education system is geared to enabling the youth to pass out with their qualifications based on academic knowledge and prepare for seeking a job. There is little or no focus on building and equipping the students with leadership, building awareness and giving them training for entrepreneurship. There is a trend to introduce specialised courses and training modules on entrepreneurship in many of the universities. In most cases the students do not attempt to think out of the box as they are not equipped with the necessary skills. Making them think about the new ideas is the aim of startup Pakistan.

6. Finance & Business Support

One other biggest hurdle faced by each and every entrepreneur is the lack of financial backup and funding as well as guidance required to incubate new business. Most often those who attempt to start any enterprise do so borrowing from family and friends and dipping into their saving. After a while the business starts to suffer due to lack of funds and they end up in a debt trap. Banking and financial assistance should be made available easily and this can happen only with the active support and engagement by the Government. Nowadays venture capitalists are funding new enterprises. However this is available to very few and not to the larger sections of the society.

Youth initiatives by the government and their productivity…

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) earlier has launched its official Digital Policy, with a vision to “transform Pakistan into a knowledge economy making IT the top contributor to Pakistan’s exports and job creation”. Innovation Ecosystem and Entrepreneurship is an integral part of the policy. Emphasis will be laid on entrepreneurial culture and innovation ecosystem by organizing e-government hackathons, introducing city as a lab initiatives, tax benefits for startups, investor-friendly policies, sales tax rationalization to 5% and incentives to solve local problems. Government has also pledged to give 50,000 graduate scholarships to students from government colleges.

The aim to increase the number of market-ready IT graduates to 100,000 per year. Continuing the emphasis on developing human capital, 120 new campuses of tier-1 universities will be established, Mathematics and Science certifications will be introduced for secondary school teachers with salary incentives to improve the standards of teaching and impart modern education. Professional training support programs will be launched according to industry needs and trends as well.

Another very important initiative pledged by government is that it will provide an enabling environment for setting up new businesses. Jawan Markaz to facilitate and mentor local entrepreneurs by connecting them with subject matter experts, business plan formulation and capital generation guidance is also part of the youth initiatives. Industrial internship programs to be set up by Improvement and enforcement of existing Apprenticeship legislation.

Startup ecosystem…

The existing generation of entrepreneurs has the opportunity to dramatically expand the Pakistani startup ecosystem both at home and abroad.

While Pakistan’s contribution to startup culture may appear negligible by global standards, for a country far removed from the concepts of incubators and accelerators till long, progress on the front is more than promising. In a recent poll by the Thompson Reuters Foundation, Pakistan was ranked among the world’s major economies where social entrepreneurship has been gaining momentum.

The startup culture in Pakistan is mainly driven by the nation’s young working with private accelerators and incubators. In a society where under-30s make up for two-thirds of the population along with strong private sector support, the future for social entrepreneurship in general and startups in particular looks promising. Start up Pakistan campaign is a well planned strategy for augmenting the entrepreneurial skills of the youth. The strategy actually moves with the individuals to push them ahead so they acquire their destination. The campaign is a voyage of success for all those who will accompany this.

Published in Melange Intl. Magazine in October 2018.

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