Applied entrepreneurship and regional connectivity

Hassnain Javed

January 19, 2019

 

 

 

Currently, the youth of Pakistan is facing exasperating challenges. According to a survey by the World Bank there is a need of about 600 Million jobs in the global economy over the next ten years, in order to retain the current employment rates. Moreover, reports from the International Labour Organisation reveals that approximately 36% of people amongst the unemployed are represented by the youth. Now talking about underemployment, more than 169 Million of the youth are paid less than US$2 per day, in the developing countries. Keeping these stats in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that the youth today is exposed to increased amounts of competition, making job search more difficult day by day. At the moment, Pakistan has a growing labour force of 1.7 million young people reaching working age each year, and the estimated unemployment rate is expected to rise to 8.6 million by 2020. This places a risk of exclusion, income inequality, reduced prospects and represents a challenge to Pakistan’s productivity and economic potential.

In this regard, ‘Youth Applied Entrepreneurship’ can play a pivotal role in relevance to job creation in Pakistan. Characteristically, applied entrepreneurship would encourage the development of new innovative technologies that would further give rise to productivity and efficiency. The platform acts a catalyst to transform economies and implementation of new solutions for increased profits. Instead of finding new jobs elsewhere, entrepreneurship would facilitate the youth to become self-sufficient and develop the skills of critical thinking, decision-making, leadership, teamwork and innovation-which would benefit them in all walks of life.

There are multiple advantages of youth driven entrepreneurial venture. Firstly, the creative expertise of the youth not only incorporates traditional areas of research but also unique selling ideas that lie outside the ambit of academia. Secondly, these young leaders have the ability to attract and extract new talent from their peers which further helps them in fostering a positive community. Lastly, a recent trend amongst young entrepreneurs of the world is the idea of ‘social entrepreneurship’- the main goal of their businesses is to create incentives for social and economic change. Apart from a profit motive, such a business focuses on addressing different social issues that exist in the country like malnutrition, infant death, education, environment etc.

Currently, the government is planning two sets of strategies: firstly, to provide interest free loans to the youth via university entrepreneurship development programs and departments and secondly, to provide equal opportunities to both the youngsters from rural and urban areas. The youth from rural areas that have the ability but lack the skills to compete are being given scholarships for short term courses at vocational institutes. Furthermore, targeted and merit based scholarships are at the heart of both these strategies. By utilizing the enthusiasm and talent of the youth the government would be able to tap onto the potential of Pakistan’s youth. Also, such initiatives would encourage the creation of small and medium enterprises that would in turn propel Pakistan towards a better economy.

One such initiative is the up and coming ‘Applied Entrepreneurship: Think and Grow International Conference 2019’ organised by the Pakistan Industrial and Technical Assistance Centre, under the Federal Ministry of Industry and Production, Government of Pakistan along with a support of academia-industry partners. This year young entrepreneurs are encouraged to submit their innovative ideas, research papers, case studies and projects with a societal impact. At the heart of the conference are five main themes: Role of Technical Vocational Entrepreneur Training (TVET) in Applied Entrepreneurship, Belt and Road Startup Accelerator Innovative Entrepreneurship, Opportunities and Challenges for Entrepreneurial Start-Ups at China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Information Technology and E-commerce and lastly, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure Entrepreneurial Ventures. Since the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under CPEC can facilitate the process of micro-investment in this region, by facilitating innovative entrepreneurial ventures at a small and medium size level.

This platform aims at guiding young individuals from a vision to venture. All participants would be invited to present their big idea and benefit from the expertise of top notch industrialist and successful entrepreneurs via a one-to-one mentorship process. Also, the platform would support the business ideas of the winning teams by awarding them a seeding fund. On top of that, industrial and academic research papers will also be presented and they will be award money for best research paper in every theme classified.
The idea behind the conference is to empower the youth all over the region to discuss interregional challenges and connectivity hurdles. Representatives from Russia, China, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan are all encouraged to participate in the conference. The five themes of the conference thus reiterate the importance of development corridors like One Belt One Road initiative by China, and how the region can benefit by setting up entrepreneurial ventures along its route. In addition to generating new creative ideas and improving regional ties for the countries, the conference would also provide a shared platform for participating countries to delve in the global markets. The mutually beneficial assistance amongst nations can be in the form of shared knowledge, transfer of technology, component parts or supply partnerships. Therefore, such cooperation would also enable big Multinational companies to identify the talent of youth and provide them with business and job opportunities. This environment of conductive learning would trigger a snowball effect and enable other corporations in the region to reap benefits from the advancements in technology.

Conclusively, the tool of youth employment is of paramount importance, for stimulating the growth in the region’s economy. The reason for this spurt is that entrepreneurs not only bring welfare for themselves but also the municipality, country and region as a whole. Self-employment brings the youth more satisfaction and job security for their peers as well. Most importantly, such ventures can stimulate economic development in the rural regions where the youth can guide the natives to utilize their locally produced materials into finished goods for domestic use and consumption.

Given the right opportunity and mentorship, the youth has the ability to deliver outstanding performances. These pathways to progress would especially be beneficial by enabling them to thrive in today’s economy. Thus the objective of such a programme is essentially to reduce youth unemployment and increase sustainable economic development through entrepreneurship and leadership training.