A land of opportunities

Pakistan is a thriving country with new opportunities and experiences in the corporate world, education sector, entertainment industry and many more



By Atifuddin Khan

Published: Wed 14 Aug 2019, 3:10 PM

Last updated: Wed 14 Aug 2019, 5:23 PM


Make no mistake, Pakistan is a land of opportunities. So much is written about what is not good here that we often miss out on the good that is happening. The food. The people. The hospitality. The entrepreneurial spirit. For generations, the school going Pakistani has been ingrained with the concept of good education leading to a good job.
Now, things are changing. Why not a good idea that will lead to a good business? Thanks to mainly a void in the local economic activity that has led to less jobs for a ballooning population, the younger lot is looking to start their own venture instead. And there's a lot of them.
According to the National Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 64 per cent of the Pakistanis are below the age of 30 while 29 per cent of these belong to the age bracket of 15 to 29 years.
These numbers are indeed encouraging; a young population can take the country in a new direction. One of those young ones is Zayed Yazdani.
Son of a journalist, residing in Lahore, Zayed's ambitions have only just started to take root. "I want to be the king of family entertainment in Pakistan," he said. He started his career in journalism and then moved onto the corporate world however, tasks were too mundane.
"The corporate world doesn't have any ambition. Creatively, it's stifling. After reaching a certain level of success, I left it and after some market research I setup a restaurant. After all, food is entertainment in Pakistan. I did my research; if you make it in Lahore in the food business, you can make it anywhere in the country. The customers here are really demanding." But as Zayed recalls, it wasn't easy.
"Business can be scary. You have to really believe in yourself. It's important that you have a clear vision. Just wanting to do business for the sake of doing business can have disastrous consequences. Be thorough in your documentation.
"Do proper planning and research, and then only do you stand a chance of having a shot at success. There is a new restaurant opening next to ours. The owner, a 25-year-old, had experience at food festivals and based on his success in the field, he thinks he can cut it. That is not the right approach." 
Babloo'z Pizza Bar and Grill now has 2 outlets in Lahore and is serving in schools as well. For Zayed, the restaurant is just the first step. "There's a lot of opportunity in the family entertainment business. Apart from eating out, there's practically nothing here. I want to avail those prospects and revolutionise that sector."
Entrepreneurship is now being pushed actively by universities in Pakistan. Students are being encouraged to think beyond the box, and though there are still job fairs and students do go and find out what the current job market is, they are also being introduced to entrepreneurs. To be able to make your own destiny; be dependent on what you can pitch to an investor rather than the HR head of an MNC.
The first graduating batch of engineers from Habib University in Karachi was encouraged to do just that and one of the students, Areeba Aziz, is thinking and working on exactly those lines. Daughter of a doctor, being an entrepreneur is a new mindset in her family.
"My education is still not complete. I hope to get admission in one of the top universities in Europe and get my masters from there. I also hope to get exposure in international standards and see what is on offer in the world. This will help me in focusing on my targets and then setting up a venture in Pakistan.
"The future sees smart application of technology. There are smart home solutions that help manage your electricity bills. However, if we develop our own solution, customised to the needs of the local market, I believe not only will we get a better market, but we will also create a base for the next generation of engineers who might want to seek success in Pakistan. As you can see, there are incubators on private and government level - you can see startups coming and that is encouraging.
"There are investors in Pakistan, rich businessmen who are willing to part with tiny portion of their fortune, for better returns but equally for the opportunity to tap this untapped market. I personally see myself coming back to Pakistan in 3-years and being successful in my own venture."
Students delving into new ventures is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. In a patriarchal society like ours, it was guaranteed that the son will take over the reins of business from the father. However, Dr Mohammad Asad Ilyas went a few steps ahead than just manage the shop for his dad.
An Assistant Professor of Accounting & Law at IBA, he offers advice for the younger lot. "It is a misconception that an entrepreneur has to have his own business. I came back to Pakistan after having worked in the US and Canada. I treated these organisations as my own and my career mobility and upward trajectory shows that this attitude is appreciated.
"Through academia, I connected with the young generation; energetic, positive and full of ideas. I also did research and had huge networking opportunities. The energy, ideas, positivity, research and network has given me the chance to sponsor at least 10 startups; solving local problems ranging from Water Recycling & Machine Learning to indigenous ERP solutions.
Size of fame, wealth and satisfaction in today's world is dependent on the size of the problem an entrepreneur solves." However, reaching where he has, requires more determination. "I can tell you from experience that being an entrepreneur is extremely stressful and depressing, because success never comes quick.
"My biggest teacher so far has been my failures and the realisation that success is impossible without failing and failing repeatedly. People with horrible ideas have surprised me with their success - therefore, I believe it is important to believe in your terrible ideas because at the end of the day, it is you alone who would be working on it."
Times are changing in this part of the world. People, especially the younger lot, are willing to take risks. Seeing this, a number of incubators are already in place. National Incubation Centre is one. The Nest, a tech incubator of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) is another. Opportunities may not be abundant, but are there for those who are willing to avail it. All the best to those who will stand firm their ground. Success will come by default.
- The writer is an avid storyteller, wanderer, explorer, big time foodie and an ICE Man

The corporate world doesn’t have any ambition. Creatively, it’s stifling. After reaching a certain level of success, I left it and setup a restaurant. After all, food is entertainment in Pakistan — Zayed Yazdani
The corporate world doesn’t have any ambition. Creatively, it’s stifling. After reaching a certain level of success, I left it and setup a restaurant. After all, food is entertainment in Pakistan — Zayed Yazdani
If we develop our own solution, customised to the needs of the local market, I believe not only will we get a better market, but we will also create a base for the next generation of engineers — Areeba Aziz
If we develop our own solution, customised to the needs of the local market, I believe not only will we get a better market, but we will also create a base for the next generation of engineers — Areeba Aziz
I can tell you from personal experience that being an entrepreneur is extremely stressful and depressing, because success never comes quick. My biggest teacher, so far, has been my failures — Dr Mohammad Asad Ilyas
I can tell you from personal experience that being an entrepreneur is extremely stressful and depressing, because success never comes quick. My biggest teacher, so far, has been my failures — Dr Mohammad Asad Ilyas

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