Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TEDx Karachi Inspires Hope, Ideas, Call For Action

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a U.S. based private non-profit foundation that is best known for its conferences, now held in Europe and Asia as well as the U.S., devoted to what it calls "ideas worth spreading." Its lectures, called TED Talks distributed through the Internet, are subject to an eighteen-minute time limit. Speakers are an eclectic mix of people with ideas representing a wide cross section of humanity.

TED is run by Chris Anderson, a Pakistani-born Oxford-educated journalist, who recently returned to the land of his birth to launch TEDx Karachi conference. Organized by Dr. Awab Alvi, aka Teethmaestro, and others, the theme of the Karachi conference held on June 4, 2010 was "What Pakistan Needs Now". Chris Anderson, Curator, TED, Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder/CEO, Acumen Fund, Roshaneh Zafar, Founder/CEO, Kashf Foundation, Asad Umar, CEO, Engro, Monis Rahman, Founder/CEO, Naseeb Networks, Asad Rezzvi, CEO, e-Cube Global and Joshinder Chaggar, Theater Artist. It was attended by a very diverse crowd of 500 people.



According to reports from a number of citizen journalists who attended the conference, Chris talked about the power of the technology and connectivity to transform lives in the developing world. He expects that ubiquitous cell phones will have all the capabilities to connect to the Internet in the developing world. Ubiquitous Internet access combined with online applications and videos will help change how most of us learn, play, think, act and contribute to society.

Some of what Chris talked about is already happening via YouTube. Though it was not mentioned by him, an example of it is the Khan Academy, established by a Pakistani-American Salman Khan in Silicon Valley, which uses Youtube videos to teach a variety of subjects ranging from math to science to personal finance. Availability of these videos via cell phones will enhance opportunities for teaching a much larger number of young people.

TEDx Karachi featured Asad Umar of Engro Power, an appropriate choice in the midst of a major energy crisis requiring creative solutions in Pakistan. Engro is working on clean power plant using flared gas, a CDM project, to produce 225 MW power. In addition, there is a 1200 MW coal-fired plant being built by Engro using Thar coal. Umar believes only 4% of Pakistan's vast Thar coal reserves could take care of all of Pakistan's current energy needs at significantly lower cost.

Monis Rahman, the founder of Naseeb social network as the first US VC-funded company in Pakistan, presented his idea of using the vast network the 90 million cell phones as a job search tools. His company also runs rozee.pk, a job posting site.

Roshanneh Zafar of Kashf Foundation spoke about the work of her foundation funded by the Acumen Fund. Kashf is focused on microfinance to help enable and empower women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. As blogger Nuruddin Abjani who heard her speak put it: "she was one of the most passionate about Pakistan and how she is changing it with her foundation and how each one of us can. She got everyone teary-eyed when she sang the National Anthem and everyone stood and joined her - AS ONE! She showed how ONE person could make ALL the difference in the world. And she is SO DAMN RIGHT! If only we could UNDERSTAND!"

Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund, who happens to be Chris Anderson's wife, spoke last with an urgent call for action. She asked, "If not now, when? If not us, who?" As an example, she mentioned the work of Tasneem Siddiqui in "Khuda Ki Basti", a low-cost housing project to deal with the housing crunch from growing rural-to-urban migration in Karachi, and the second similar project now underway in Lahore.

TEDx Karachi is expected to be just the first of many more TEDx events planned in Pakistan to encourage new ideas and inspire Pakistanis to act by finding and implementing creative solutions to address many of their nation's problems. It is in the best spirit of lighting candles instead of cursing darkness.

Here is a Skoll Foundation video on social entrepreneurship:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Light a Candle, Do Not Curse Darkness

ITU Internet Access Data by Countries

Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Smart Phones to Widen Internet Access in Pakistan

Life Goes On in Pakistan

Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

ICT: Hope or Hype?

Haq's Musings

Truth About India's IT Revolution

Education in Pakistan

Musharraf's Legacy

Quality of Higher Education in India, Pakistan

Pakistan's IT Industry Takes Off

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Software Successes

Pakistan's Industrial Sector

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Auto Sector in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Textile Industry Woes

Pakistan Software Houses Association

32 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuter's story on smartphone price declines:

A new wave of cheap smartphones could soon do for the mobile industry what years of hype and investing in pricey 3G systems failed to accomplish -- combining must-have chic with affordable prices for data-hungry masses.

Prices of smartphones are falling sharply as handset vendors use free software such as Google Inc's Android and chip prices are also tumbling as semiconductor makers put baseband and application processors into one chipset.

Free software is significant since Microsoft Corp charges up to $15 per phone for cellphone vendors to use its mobile operating system.

China's ZTE, which cut its teeth making cheap phones for emerging markets, aims to repeat that success in smartphones with a new model it is putting on trial for about $150 per handset, said He Shiyou, head of the company's cellphone division.

The model, using Google's Android operating system, is expected to start shipping next month and could be sold globally, he said at the Reuters Technology Summit on Monday.

ZTE's phones will join a growing crop of cheaper but still intelligent phones designed to take on the likes of pricier traditional models such as Apple Inc's iPhone, which costs more than $600, and Research in Motion Ltd's BlackBerry, which typically costs $250 or more.

"It will have tremendous importance when smartphones come down to maybe $100 to $150, then you can reach all (consumer) segments," Johan Wibergh, who heads the mobile networking equipment division at Ericsson, the world's largest cellular equipment maker, said at the Summit, which was taking place at various Reuters offices worldwide.

ZTE's cheap smartphone, which it is developing for domestic carrier China Unicom , follows similar moves by a number of companies and could mark the beginning of a new wave of phones to enter the market priced at around $100 to $150.

Global cellphone leader Nokia Oyj already sells a model whose price starts at 125 euros, while Chinese vendors are expected to take prices into largely uncharted territory.

"We are going to have an Android device for 85 euros ($105) by the end of the year," Oren Nissim, chief executive of satnav software maker Telmap, told the Reuters Summit in Paris, but he declined to name the manufacturer.

Telmap and many other major mobile software vendors have access to upcoming phone models well before they are introduced to the general public.

ZTE, NOKIA, HUAWEI, GOOGLE TO WIN

The expected boom should benefit companies such as ZTE, Nokia and China's Huawei that have expertise developing models for cost-sensitive emerging markets and have the manufacturing clout to develop new models cheaply.

"The market is seeing an abundance of affordable smartphones, but that raises a new challenge for operators in how to make data tariffs attractive and accessible on prepay," said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber.

It could also benefit carriers with 3G networks who stand to reap more money from the data-rich services, such as online gaming, music streaming and Web surfing, that such smartphones are good at.

Ericsson and other network equipment providers could benefit too as carriers boost capacity on their networks to accommodate rising demand.

Another possible beneficiary is Google, as its Android system is fast becoming the preferred choice of many low-end smartphone makers.

"Cheaper smartphone prices are only going to benefit two groups of people: telecoms operators and Google," said Vincent Chen, an analyst at Yuanta Securities in Taipei.

"Falling smartphone prices aren't going to be good for handset brands and they'll need to get used to these cheaper prices and lower margins soon," he said.

Anonymous said...

looks like pakis will never be happy. deep down they know they are living in a horrible country.

http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/jun/23/slide-show-1-India-among-top-50-prosperous-nations.htm

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/jun/23/slide-show-1-India-among-top-50-prosperous-nations.htm"

This has the strangest ranking criteria for prosperity that I have seen. It makes a mockery of what it means to be prosperous.

It ignores the basic stuff on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, like food, clothing and shelter which are are all badly lacking in India.

It ignores the fact that 76% of Indians live on less than $2 a day vs 60% of Pakistani.

It ignores the fact that two-thirds of Indians live in primitive conditions and defecate in the open vs one-third of Pakistanis.

It ignores Indian Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed's own admission that India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan in terms of basic nutrition.

It ignores the fact that India is home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterate people.

Instead, here's what it says:

Among 104 countries, India is ranked at no. 45. It fares dismally in terms of education and health -- ranking 86th and 88th respectively -- and has an average ranking in the fields of governance and personal freedom (41st and 47th rank).

But India gets an astoundingly high score in the field of social capital -- it is ranked at the 5th slot.

"India's high ranking in this category is mainly a product of the high membership rate of its citizens; between 59 per cent and 68 per cent of the population report that they belong to a variety of community organisations," states the index


It does a great disservice to the poor masses of India.

Riaz Haq said...

In the spirit of lighting a candle, Pakistanis are giving more than ever. Here's an Express Tribune report on philanthropy doubling in Pakistan in the last decade to Rs. 140 billion:

KARACHI: Inflation is not the only thing that is on the rise. The amount contributed towards philanthropy in Pakistan has almost doubled over the past decade, said Anjum R Haque, Executive Director, Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP), an Islamabad-based organisation focussed on streamlining social development.

While a total of Rs70 billion had been donated in 2000, she said that the figure was likely to reach Rs140 billion this year. With donations carrying such a massive potential, she said, there is a growing need to make direct cash flows strategically.

She also spoke about the PCP certification programme under which 162 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been certified.

The PCP’s aim, she said, is to create awareness and sensitise society about current issues affecting growth in the social sector and create an enabling environment for the certified NGOs.

“Regularisation of NGOs is a very sensitive issue and the PCP tries to promote this culture through a voluntary approach,” she said.

Certification Manager Malik Babur Javed said that the certification programme was recognised by the government and was the country’s only system that reinforced and promoted internal governance, financial transparency and programme delivery in the non-profit sector.

He said that civil society organisations (CSO) certification not only created sector-wide standards but also promoted the government’s agenda of strengthening the civil society in terms of administration, documentation, disclosure, transparency, accountability and effective service delivery.

With additional information from APP


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Light a Candle, Do Not Curse Darkness

Comparing India and Pakistan in 2010

Indian poverty

Pakistan Wage Structure 1990-2007

Middle Class Clout Rising in Pakistan

Urbanization in Pakistan

The Rise of Mehran Man

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Businessweek story on microfinance in India:

Savita Ramesh Rathore stands at the door of her dimly lit workshop in Mumbai's Dharavi slum, filled floor to ceiling with bundles of old clothes, and talks about the cost of her son's wedding last year. "Jewels, clothes, food, the town hall," says Rathore, 50, who makes towels from discarded clothes. She borrowed 30,000 rupees ($647) from moneylenders charging 60 percent interest and took additional loans from friends. Three months ago she got a 10,000-rupee loan from urban lender Hindusthan Microfinance at an interest rate of just over 20 percent to repay some of that debt.

Rathore is one of 25 million Indians who have taken so-called microfinance loans, often without adequate documentation or collateral, according to research firm Micro-Credit Ratings International. As Hyderabad-based SKS Microfinance plans to become the first microlender in the country to go public, an industry credited with helping alleviate poverty is suddenly provoking comparisons to subprime lenders in the U.S.

"Globally, microfinance is showing characteristics of the Western financial markets before the collapse," says Sanjay Sinha, managing director at Micro-Credit Ratings in Gurgaon. "In the U.S., homeowners were given loans at 120 percent of the value of their properties. In rural India, people are being lent to at 150 percent of the value of their enterprises."

Microfinance firms make loans in poor areas largely shut off from traditional banking services. The past two years have been marked by surging defaults in some countries. Microfinance markets in Nicaragua, Morocco, and Pakistan have seen default levels climb to more than 10 percent, the threshold that marks a "serious repayment crisis," according to a February report from policy and research firm Consultative Group to Assist the Poor.

India, where more than 600 million people live on less than $1.50 a day, is the world's largest microfinance market. Most microfinance loans in India range from 5,000 to 20,000 rupees ($108 to $431), with interest rates ranging from 18 percent to 33 percent. Although Indian microfinance firms have reported bad-loan ratios of about 2.5 percent on average, levels may be higher because some lenders roll over loans to struggling borrowers to avoid defaults, says Micro-Credit's Sinha.

Microfinance lending in India may surge by about 40 percent annually over the next few years, says Sinha. SKS, betting the potential for growth will attract investors, is seeking regulatory approval for an initial public offering. Basix Group, which focuses on poor households in rural areas and provides loans averaging about 3,000 rupees, may sell shares in an IPO next year, says Chairman Vijay Mahajan. Others are likely to follow. Until now, microfinance companies have relied on loans and grants from banks, insurers, and foundations for funding, he says.

Micro-Credit's Sinha worries that growth in the microfinance market is masking an erosion of lending standards that may spark rising defaults. India doesn't have a nationwide system for tracking borrowers' credit histories, making it hard for lenders to check whether clients have multiple loans. "There is significant investor interest in microfinance companies' public issues, but it's being driven by irrational exuberance," says Sinha.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a blog post by Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant US Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, on U.S. and Pakistan collaborating on Science and Technology:

As part of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue initiated in March by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi, I recently led the U.S. delegation to the Science and Technology Working Group in Islamabad, June 8-9. The two-day meetings discussed three areas where our two governments could increase collaboration: enhanced science and technology cooperation, enabling the science and technology enterprise, and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

It was encouraging to hear the Working Group specifically agree on building upon ongoing joint research and ways to highlight new knowledge that can improve social conditions and enhance economic opportunities. Working Group members also agreed to explore building the capacity of academic institutions and transferring technology from the lab to the private sector, while emphasizing the need to share successful models of innovation and entrepreneurship.

One of the most memorable experiences during my visit was attending an exhibition featuring 38 Science and Technology research projects funded through the Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program. I also had the privilege of visiting Pakistan's National University of Science and Technology, where I met with researchers who are conducting studies on climate change, finding innovative ways to use telemedicine to improve disease surveillance networks, and designing improved search engines.

The Science and Technology Working Group meeting was the first of the 13 Strategic Dialogue Working Group sessions taking place this month in Pakistan. Other Working Group topics include: law enforcement, energy, water, economics and finance, market access, defense, health, women's issues, and agriculture. I am inspired and encouraged by our Science and Technology discussions as they are addressing some of the most pressing environment, science, technology, and health issues facing Pakistan today, and building strong partnerships between our Science and Technology communities. The U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue represents the shared commitment of both nations to strengthening the bilateral relationship and building an even broader partnership based on mutual respect and mutual trust.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a news story about Micromax, an Indian handset manufacturer, targeting the price-sensitive customers in the developing world:

Their strategy for other emerging markets will be similar to that in India: Sell phones loaded with features at dirt-cheap prices. Micromax, for instance, sells smart phones at less than Rs 8,000, which is 33 per cent below multinational rivals. All Lava phones are priced below Rs 6,000. The company plans to introduce smart phones and Qwerty handsets within this price range. Most of them import in bulk from China, though application development and product design happens in India.

“We have chosen to penetrate these markets because our products with features like dual SIM and dual memory card, we thought, would be right for these emerging markets,” said Spice Mobile’s head of marketing, Naveen Paul. “We strongly feel that these markets are very similar in nature to the Indian market, and we perceive a huge opportunity. Given the similarity in socio-economic conditions, the consumer preferences in these markets are quite similar to those in India,” Karbonn Mobiles Executive Director Shashin Devsare added. “The youth in these markets have got a sporty attitude, and they want features that are beyond voice and text, and Lava handsets offer the same with in-house software,” said Lava International Co-founder and Director SN Rai.

But some of these markets could be different from India. “Brazil is technologically one step ahead of India, as 3G came to the country a year back. But it’s not advanced like Europe which is a 4G-technology market now,” said Jain. “The differentiator for Micromax will be its innovative product design.” The challenge that all Indian brands will have to crack is distribution. But if they can get their distribution network in place in a large country like India, there is hope that they will do it in other markets as well.

Riaz Haq said...

I encourage every one to read and draw inspiration from Nadeem Akram's article "From Umarkot with Love" on Chowk.com, particularly the following paragraph that inspires hope in the future of Pakistan:

Our driver took us as close to the building as he could and we walked rest of the way. To our surprise we were greeted by a Sindhi teacher of Balochi persuasion and the hut was jam packed with over thirty students of the adjoining goth studying under the tutelage of the Mr. Ghulam Ali, the teacher.

It was an inspiring story. The teacher had, on his own initiative and of course with the help of the community, built this hut some twelve years ago and since then he has been imparting primary education to thirty-five students every year. Several of his students have gone on to attend the high school and some of them made it to the college. He has had little or no support from Sindh Education Department, and all these years he has managed to operate this school with the help of the village elders. My eyes welled up as he concluded his narration duly supported by a village elder that conveniently appeared and joined us. All my pre-conceived ideas about patriotism, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and lack of civic will were taking their last breaths in the puddle next to the school as we bade farewell to the teacher, the students and the benefactor!


People like Ghulam Ali sahib are lighting candles to show the way to a brighter future...rather than cursing darkness as many do here on Chowk and elsewhere!

Nuruddin Abjani said...

Dear Riaz Sb,
I am thoroughly impressed with your positive thoughts on Pakistan.

We need people like you to tell everyone that Pakistan is not a 'gone' country.

Thanks for quoting me on your post on TedX Karachi.
Lets change the world!
God bless you, sir.

Riaz Haq said...

Dear Abjani sahib,

Thank you for your comment.

I strongly believe that pessimism is the ultimate kufr.

Pakistan's glass is half full, not empty.

Average Pakistanis are still much better off than most of their neighbors. In spite of all of its very serious problems, there is less poverty, less hunger and better hygiene in Pakistan than its neighbors to the East and West.

We should try and keep hope alive for better days ahead in Pakistan.

I entirely agree with what you wrote in your post on TEDx, "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent HBR article on social entrepreneurship, arguing that US is lagging in this field:

In 2009, William Kamkwamba, a teenager from Malawi, made the rounds on American talk shows and coauthored a best-selling book. The source of his notoriety? A homemade windmill that provided power and running water for his family. Kamkwamba built it from trash, using an old textbook as his only guide.

In the United States, the idea of deploying small-scale windmills had been abandoned as too expensive and horribly inefficient. In Malawi, a teenager had built one spending less money than the average American eighth-grader's weekly allowance.

Kamkwamba's story points to an unrecognized truth of social entrepreneurship and innovation. The United States isn't a leader; it's a laggard.

Consider some of the most important social innovations of the past 20 years. The modern microfinance industry was pioneered in Bangladesh and has spread to virtually every country in the world. The business model that allowed the near-universal penetration of cellular phones into poor communities was born in Bangladesh, as well.

Meanwhile, two innovative ways to use cell phones' ubiquity in poor communities to change the world have emerged from Kenya: M-Pesa, a mobile-to-mobile money-transfer service, has become a model worldwide. And Ushahidi, a technology platform that relies on text messages to guide crisis response, became an important part of the rescue and recovery efforts in Haiti and Chile after the earthquakes there. It's currently being used to track the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

India is the home of world-class innovators like Aravind Eye Hospitals and the education-focused NGO Pratham. The latter has had such success that its teaching approach is being adopted in several African countries.

So how does the U.S. stack up? Compare the negligible impact of One Laptop Per Child to the pioneering role of GrameenPhone in the global mobile phone revolution and the attendant gains in real income. Meanwhile Voxiva, a U.S.-founded social entrepreneurial firm, offers a complex, proprietary system to gather information from the field — a system that can cost more than $1 million to operate. But Ushahidi boasts a simple, nearly free (I just contributed to the $600 fund needed to deploy Ushahidi in Kyrgyzstan) open-source platform that was up and running in Haiti in less than 48 hours after the earthquake there. Finally, a recent report has shown that the most profitable microfranchise operations all originated in the developing world

Sure, there are examples of impressive and effective American social entrepreneurship. But, as these comparisons make clear, most world-changing innovations aren't coming from the United States.

Why? Well, for one thing, we haven't figured out how to train entrepreneurs successfully. The rates of entrepreneurship (measured by self-employment and age of operating businesses) are lower in the United States than in most other countries (even OECD countries). Despite all the money poured into various entrepreneurship-training programs, the failure rate of U.S. entrepreneurs, social or otherwise, has held largely constant for decades.

Riaz Haq said...

The Aug 23 & 30 issue of Newsweek has a cover story titled "The Best Country in he World is...". It ranks top 100 nations of he world based on education, health, quality of life, economy and politics.

As expected, the top nations are the industrialized OECD member nations, followed by the nations of Eastern Europe, Middle East, Latin America, North Africa and South East Asia. Bottom of the list includes South Asian and sub-Saharan African nations.

The top nation in South Asia is Sri Lanka at #66. Afghanistan and Nepal are not included in the list.

Here are the rankings for India and Pakistan:

India...Pakistan

88........86........Education

82........85.......Health

87........85.......Quality of Life

38........62.....Economic Dynamism

48........99.......Political Env.

78........89.......Overall

Pakistan is ahead of India in education and quality of life, as judged by Newsweek.

Obviously, Newsweek rankers have a bias for democracy, no mater how flawed, that puts India significantly ahead of Pakistan in political environment and helps its overall ranking. And the fact that Pakistan has been hugely demonized by the western media has also hurt its standing.

But the killers for Pakistan rankings are its corrupt and incompetent politicians and the economic ruin they have wrought over the last two years.

Riaz Haq said...

A wealthy Pakistani real estate developer has pledged to help the flood victims in Pakistan in a massive way. Here's a report by UAE paper the National:

ISLAMABAD // Malik Riaz Hussain, a billionaire Pakistani developer, has responded to the misery of millions of his flood-stricken compatriots by pledging to spend 75 per cent of his fortune on rebuilding their lives.

The extraordinary offer was made in a television interview in which he told how he had sent a letter before the floods to 100 of Pakistan’s most wealthy and powerful people asking them to pool money into a fund to repair homes, provide vocational training and extend microfinance loans to impoverished Pakistanis.

Mr Hussain is the chairman of Bahria Town, a US$6 billion (Dh22bn) urban development enterprise that has built gated communities for a million people in the central cities of Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Bahria Town has already responded to the current floods by vastly expanding a corporate social responsibility programme called dastarkhwan, or dining spread, to provide two meals a day to more than 150,000 flood refugees in inundated areas and free medical care at mobile hospitals.

Its housing projects, unrivalled in Pakistan as models of highly desirable but affordable suburban living, have revolutionised Pakistan’s real-estate sector over the last decade by targeting the previously untapped middle class, rather than the rich.

The huge popularity of the Bahria Town brand has made Mr Hussain, at the age of 62, one of a handful of Pakistanis believed to be billionaires in US dollar terms, although this cannot be verified as he has never released his tax records.

A man of unremarkable origins, Mr Hussain espouses traditional family values, and has expressed them in the modern family-friendly suburbs he has built.

Reproductions of famous landmarks, such as London’s Trafalgar Square, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, point to his aspirations for Pakistan, while beautiful mosques and Quranic calligraphy suggest that modernity is in harmony with Muslim beliefs.

Riaz Haq said...

CK Prahalad's theory on the purchasing power at the 'bottom of the pyramid' (BOP) has set the MBA circles buzzing about the big corp making money off the poor people in India by selling products to them.

Recently, Indian govt tried giving away cell phones to the poor in India who wondered out loud what they'd do with them. They'd rather have food rotting in govt warehouses given away to them so they can fill their hungry stomachs to survive.

Michigan professor Aneel Karnani calls Pralahad's BOP theory "at best a harmless illusion and potentially a dangerous delusion".

His new working paper, Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid: a mirage, really takes late Professor Pralahad to task.

Karnani argues that "the best way for private firms to help eradicate poverty is to invest in upgrading the skills and productivity of the poor, and to help create more employment opportunities for the poor".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the story of how Acumen's Jacqueline Novogratz got into microfinance, as published by Businessweek:

I was an accidental banker. To please my parents, I went for an interview with Chase Manhattan Bank in 1983. They promised to send me into their offices in more than 40 countries and essentially audit the practices. It was an extraordinary job.

I had an epiphany in Brazil. We had made a $100 million loan to an airline owner who immediately moved the money to the Cayman Islands. Yet I saw all these people in the favelas who were incredibly productive but had no access to capital. I decided to leave Chase to work with a group that wanted me to help create credit systems in Africa.

As I was preparing to leave, though, the COO offered me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work directly with him. He made it clear that, in a few years, I would be able to write my ticket on Wall Street. I was torn. No one wanted me to go to Africa: not my family, my friends, or my employers. But I thought, "If I don't go now, I might never go." So I quit.

I ended up going to Rwanda in the late 1980s to set up a microfinance institution and a bakery. I came back to the U.S. to get an MBA and work at the Rockefeller Foundation before returning in 1996. When I got back to Rwanda, all the women from the bakery had been killed. Of the other women I'd worked with, one was killed in the genocide, another saw her family killed, and another was a perpetrator who was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The aid system was broken. The financial markets alone weren't going to solve the problem. I wanted to invest in entrepreneurs who could see the potential of the very poor. The poor want to produce and consume and solve their own problems. In 2001, I started Acumen as a nonprofit venture capital fund. Instead of giving their money away, philanthropists could invest it in businesses. Now it's a $50 million fund that has leveraged another $200 million of capital and created 35,000 jobs. My dream is to build this into a more powerful asset class. Everything comes at a price. I have to say no to a lot of things I love to do. But we have the potential to help build businesses that change lives.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Jacqueline Novogratz saying Pakistan needs more servant leadership:

I'm in the office of Dr. Sono, one of Pakistan's most extraordinary social entrepreneurs. Born a Hindu Dalit or "untouchable," he has worked for his country since his youth and emerged as one of the most important grassroots leaders in Sindh. He runs the Sindh Rural Support Organization, a nonprofit company that has emerged as the leading coordinator of local relief during the floods, providing food, sanitation, water and healthcare to six provinces, and serves 60,000 individuals two hot meals a day. With him are Sabiha Bhutto and Asma Soomro who Dr. Sono introduces as his "commandants." Both women carry serious expressions that give them gravitas and weight. Asma wears a black shalwar and an olive-and-rust-colored tropical print shawl over her head. Saibiha wears red-and-white narrow striped cotton. These two women led others to mobilize 80,000 people during the flood emergency.

I ask what they learned from the experience. Asma responds, "We learned to really go to their level, speak their language, feel what they would feel, and build trust." This is classic social-organizing language. "During these three weeks, I met a 90-year-old woman. She wanted to see how other people were coping in the disaster because she herself had gone through crises and was herself prepared for what might come. This inspired me a lot."

Sabiha speaks as much with her eyes as her hands. She remembers the sense of panic among people in Shikarpur who were understandably terrified by the threat of floods. "I spread calm to the people, and promised that Shikarpur would make it through the floods. I urged them to help those who were really in need." When local residents wanted to cross the river, she stopped them. She could see what others could not -- buffalos flying through the churning rapids, most of them drowning. Her neighbors trusted her, and lives were saved. I ask what she had learned. "I realize what it means to be brave," she answers.

Neither Sabiha nor Asma consider being a woman a hindrance, even in conservative parts of Pakistan. "People know that we are here for them," says Sabiha. "We've earned their trust." Between them, they've delivered sixteen women to the hospital to enable them to give birth during the crisis period.

Dr. Sono jumps in and says, "Last week, I received a phone call from a nearby village. The caller said people were drowning. And you know, I love that village." His eyes twinkle so that you can feel that love. I adore Dr. Sono for being so exquisitely alive and caring. He continues:

I called Sabiha and Asma and told them to go to the village and help people escape before the flood waters came. It was 10:30 at night, and still they went. This is a dangerous area, and women especially can be killed going out at night. But they went. And by midnight, the village was empty and there was not a single drowning.

The conversation turns to Pakistan's future, and what can be done about corruption.

Corruption is a big problem here. But we are seeing changes. We have minimized corruption at the district level, and now we have to translate that to the top level. We also have to focus on educating people at the grassroots, too, so that they begin to question government. This way, we can start to end corruption.

This way, the world can change.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from BBC.com's Soutik Biswas's blog about Azim Premji's $2 billion donation for rural education and development in his native India:

Mr Premji remains an exception in the world of Indian business. India has some 60 billionaires. The wealth of its top 10 billionaires equals 12% of its GDP, compared to just 1% in China, 5% in Brazil and 9% in Russia. The combined net worth of India's 100 wealthiest people is about a quarter of its GDP. But the philanthropic record of India's rich is spotty.

A few like the Tatas - who built and run the city of Jamshedpur and have a decent record in what is called corporate social responsibility - appear to have been more generous than the others. In recent years, India's billionaires have given away money to their alma mater, mostly foreign universities. A mobile phone giant has set up a foundation for underprivileged children; a tyre company has invested in containing HIV/Aids. The chairman of a leading software company has said he would set aside 10% of his wealth for philanthropy. A tea company has adopted several hundred villages. But one suspects that it all does not add up to much, considering the enormous concentration of wealth in the hands of India's rich and the power they wield.

Are Indians then too greedy to be philanthropic? Americans, for example, are known to be generous, giving away some $300bn - or 2% of the nation's GDP - to charity. There are no figures available for India - a much poorer country - but I am sure they will not be anywhere close.

I don't think some people are hardwired for altruism and others aren't - an act of charity is often spurred by an incentive of publicity and media coverage. Readers always responded handsomely whenever a magazine I used to work with launched a donation drive following a devastating flood or an earthquake. "You give not only because you want to help but because it makes you look good, or feel good, or perhaps feel less bad," write economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner in SuperFreakonomics. So, traditionally, India's businessmen have felt that they have contributed enough to society by giving away a lot of money towards building of temples.

Many believe that India's rich are not generous enough and flaunt their wealth vulgarly in a country where the majority are poor. One reason could be that most Indian businesses are run by families and have mercantile origins. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once appealed to businessmen to share their profits with the common man, maximise profits "within levels of decency" and refrain from ostentatious display of wealth because such "vulgarity insults the poor". Gurcharan Das, a writer and management guru who has worked with some of India's top companies, believes that Indian capitalism has begun to flower in the past few decades and wealth is "now being created" in plenty. He believes that the rich will begin to contribute to social causes in a big way soon, and Mr Premji's $2bn charity for education sets an "important" precedent. Time will tell whether Mr Das is being too optimistic.

nazia said...

nazia: karachi is one of the most busines place in pakistan which is also the main point of commerce in pakistan, very good to read Mr riaz haq sab so nice
jobs

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts from Knowledge at Wharton website:

Ibrahim received a master's degree in economics, an MBA and a PhD in geopolitical strategy at Cambridge University. He is currently a research scholar at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and has been named an "emerging global leader" by Yale University's World Fellows Program and an "ideas scholar" at the recent Aspen Ideas Festival. He also was a paratrooper in the British Army and speaks four languages --- English, Arabic, Punjabi and Urdu.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: What did Pakistan's government ask you to do in terms of economic strategy?

Azeem Ibrahim: My friend, Dr. Nadeem-Ul-Haq, who was a key economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), asked me to help him out. We were talking about setting up the first think tank in Pakistan, specifically to concentrate on economic development. We had a number of discussions about it before he left for Pakistan. A few days later, he called me [in May] and said, "Listen, I've just been appointed head of the Planning Commission and I'd like you to be a key adviser." We had a couple more discussions about it, and we thought the focus should be to encourage a more entrepreneurial and innovative environment in Pakistan. I thought I would give him some advice and that would be it, but what he had in mind was a little more ambitious. He said, "We have to write a whole new national economic strategy from a blank slate."
---------
Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: You mentioned in other interviews six main points you envision for Pakistan's economic recovery, including identifying people with business acumen. Can you expand on that point and tell me about the other points?

Ibrahim: I believe entrepreneurs are people who have the imagination to recognize a new product, process or service, and possess the ability to make their ideas happen. Entrepreneurs, and the new businesses they create, are the engines of economic growth and job creation, which in turn underpin political stability and the growth of a civil society.

To that end, we can identify experienced and potential entrepreneurs through schools, colleges, science and technology institutes, and civic organizations. We would seek entrepreneurs from "no-tech" and "low-tech" businesses, like agriculture, handicrafts and tourism, as well as high-tech businesses. We would work closely with development agencies, which have access to many "feeder" organizations to identify entrepreneurs.

The second point is to train and encourage entrepreneurs through domestic and international programs, varying from two-week boot camps to multi-month immersion programs. Third, we want to help develop networking, mentoring, incubation and acceleration programs. One example would be to establish an entrepreneur-in-residence program, which would include entrepreneurs from the diaspora who are familiar with Pakistani language, culture and business. Also, we'd like to establish a web-based backbone, with mentor-mentee matching as well as a contacts list for services, similar to Craigslist.

Funding, of course, is important, and that is my fourth point. We want to engage private sources of finance to provide funding for start-up ventures, including the creation of angel investor networks. We want to find the best possible partners to mentor young entrepreneurs and help them develop funding strategies and learn how to make the best possible presentations to potential funders or investors.

My fifth point is to combine diplomatic advocacy and foreign assistance to reform financial, legal, policy and regulatory impediments to private-sector development, and help entrepreneurs get access to early-stage capital.

Lastly, we want to promote the accomplishments of local entrepreneurs, who can be role models. .....

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a report on Google-YouTube team visit to Pakistan:

Internet connectivity in Pakistan is as low as 10 percent but opportunities for growth are evident, a team of Google and YouTube officials who visited the country early this month said in a blog post.

The main reason of the growth of internet opportunities in the country, according to the team, is low broadband costs which at $13 per month is quite cheap compared to the other parts of the world. Also Smartphone usage is on the rise and there are a growing number of Pakistani developers who are creating mobile applications for sale both in Pakistan and abroad.

Since 60 per cent of Pakistanis use mobile phone and pay an average bill around $3 per month and SMS being the primary means of communication, the team noticed a good opportunity of Internet growth in Pakistan.

Early this month, the team went to Pakistan to explore business and content opportunities, following up on Google’s Clinton Global Initiative commitment to Pakistan and to sponsor and participate in Pakistan’s first International Youth Conference and Festival.

The availability of local Pakistani content online is another reason the team found to make more Pakistanis engaged into internet. For example, the fusion music “Coke Studio”, a music project sponsored by Coke, became popular in YouTube last summer. Since “Coke Studio” brought the pure aroma of popular music culture of Pakistan it gained a special place in the Internet world. It also brought forth the talented Pakistani musicians into light.

“The Pakistani media is young and voracious. It was just eight years ago that the government opened up the airwaves to allow non-state media channels to exist, and in that short time the media has grown to become an important player in the public discourse in Pakistan, despite occasional crackdowns from authorities,” said the blog post.

The team also said dozens of news organizations have begun to use YouTube as a global distribution platform as well, reaching not only Pakistanis online but the diaspora abroad.

Also during the trip the team attended and participated in the International Youth Conference run by an organization called Khudi. Khudi was founded by the dynamic Maajid Nawaz, a former extremist who changed his views towards moderate Islam and has since devoted his life to educating young people on freedom of expression and anti-extremism.

“Pakistan’s future no doubt lies with its youth. An incredible 62% of Pakistanis are under the age of 25. In this way we saw an opportunity for technology to not only foster economic development, but also to break down borders in the region,” said the blog post.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story about the promise of Danish Schools, a series of boarding schools being set up in Pakistani Punjab by the provincial govt of chief minister Sahbaz Sharif for the poor as an alteranative to the madrassa system:

Outside the window, a Pakistani flag flutters, inside, a teacher asks a group of 6th-grader girls and boys, “Who can make a food chain?” A girl comes up to the board and uses a pen as a mouse to click and drag an animated plant to the first box, a worm to the second and a bird to the third. “Excellent,” Says the teacher. She goes and sits down with a smile on her face.

This is not an ordinary board, it’s a smart board, the first of its kind in Pakistan, and this is no ordinary school. Inaugurated January 18th, The Danish School System at Rahim Yar Khan stands in stark contrast to the rural terrain of this Southern Punjab city. Children enrolled in this school have to fit a certain criteria, not just that they have to pass an entry test, but they have to either have a missing parent, or both parents, they have to have an illiterate parent and they must have a monthly income of less than USD 100 - they must belong in short to the forgotten class of Pakistan’s poor and minorities.

This is affirmative action, giving the underprivileged a chance to have a level playing field. But how real is it? For one, it has the clear support of the government of Punjab which has faced severe criticism from all quarters about the surge of 25 billion rupees invested in a series of these purpose-built campuses for both girls and boys all over Punjab. These critics claim that money could have been better spent elsewhere on better alternatives like building roads or canals.
---------
The Danish Schools stands as an alternative to madrassa education because the school provides free lodging and boarding to all its students. It not only gives students a rounded education in the sciences and the arts but also provides social and extracurricular exposure. An on call psychologist also monitors each of the student’s behavior and has counseling sessions with the children and their parent or gurdian for a smooth transition into boarding life.

Despite the challenges, there is a certain spark and energy in the entire Danish school core committee headed by LUMS Provost, Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, and the teachers and students. At the inaugural ceremony, one child danced on Shakira’s Waka Waka, another child, Aasia Allah-Wasiah told a 500 odd gathering the story of her life, how she became an orphan and how Danish school was her only hope for a future.

Not all parents were this easily convinced of Danish School’s objectives. One asked the girls’ school principle, “Why would you give me back my child after giving her clothes and shoes and spending so much on her? I know this is a conspiracy to buy our children from us.”

Other parents objected to there being non-Muslim students eating in the same utensils. The management responded by saying “we all eat in the same plates as any Hindu or Christian boy because this school is for everyone equally.” Needless to say that Rahim Yar Khan, despite scattered industrial units is largely agrarian and the people are deeply influenced by the exclusivist brand of Wahabism.
---
With a meager amount of the GDP being spent on education, it is a positive sign to have politicians finally focus on this sector to secure their vote bank. With time the criticism towards these initiatives, such as the importance of Danish schools adopting the O-Levels system, may fine tune the programs into being more effective for the people. And especially those people who don’t have a voice.

Riaz Haq said...

The fundamental problems in South Asia are very different from problems in the West.

Solution to South Asian problems can not be found by aping the West...and original thinking is required to find such solutions.

Take individual liberties and rights for example.

The biggest beneficiaries of such rights are those few who have the power to enforce such rights for themselves through the use of the courts and the state apparatus, usually at the expense of the society at large. This situation leads to growing inequalities, and greater poverty for the majority.

Similarly, the western style capitalist economy encourages unrestrained growth in consumption...something that Asian nations with their massive populations and rapidly depleting natural resources can simply not afford.

No amount of cheap widget manufacturing, computer code writing and low-cost BPO services can solve these problems.

There is an estimate that it would take five times the resources of the planet earth for the rest the world to live as Americans do today.

What we need is to acknowledge that the developing world can not achieve the same standards of living as the OECD nations have without catastrophic destruction of the planet.

So what is the alternative? How do the Asians and the Africans achieve reasonable standards of living without destroying the planet? What political and economic system is needed to ensure equitable sharing of rapidly depleting resources of the earth?

These are the kinds of questions that need to be explored and answered by Asian intellectuals now.

Mayraj said...

I think we can agree on that.
But, thinking outside the box is what is missing in South Asia.
Not only that they only seem capable of following well trod paths.
Just look at their hanging on to old local govt systems left by colonial power as an example, which itself has moved on (even though it lags other nations who have moved ahead of it).

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is not alone in being targeted by the doomsayers. Many others, including India's cheerleader Fareed Zakaria, have also been betting against the United States for decades. Here's an excerpt from a Time Magazine Op Ed by David Von Drehle:

Poor U.S. of A., forever in decline. the arrival of public theaters in Boston circa 1790 caused Samuel Adams to despair for the cause of liberty in the face of such debauchery. "Alas!" he wrote. "Will men never be free!" Charles Lindbergh fretted, "It seems improbable that we could win a war in Europe." Long before baseball, hand-wringing was the national pastime. We've never been virtuous enough, civilized enough, smart enough or resolute enough.

I was born into a country reeling from Sputnik, which revealed to the whole world that Americans are as dumb as rocks. John F. Kennedy had just been elected President, in part by bemoaning the "missile gap" between the mighty Soviet arsenal and our paltry few bottle rockets. "The United States no longer carries the same image of a vital society on the move with its brightest days ahead," Kennedy said in his final debate with Richard M. Nixon. That's the same Nixon who declared eight years later, "We are worse off in every area of the world tonight than we were when President Eisenhower left office." Hard to believe we could sink further, but we did, as the nightmare of Vietnam segued into the nightmare of Watergate, while the Japanese exposed the insufficiency of American enterprise. As I stumbled off to college, President Jimmy Carter was warning us about "a crisis of confidence ... that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will." Thanks to our horrible schools, we were — according to the title of a major 1983 report — "A Nation at Risk." Then our family values went down the toilet.

You'd think America would be as washed up by now as the Captain and Tennille. So how come we're so much stronger than we were 50 years ago? Somehow, in the 235 years since we got started, Americans have weathered Boston theaters and Soviet science prodigies, violent lyrics and sex out of wedlock. We've survived a Civil War, two world wars and a Great Depression, not to mention immigrant hordes, alcohol, Freemasons and the "vast wasteland" of network television. We've dodged the population bomb, the coming ice age, acid rain and the domino effect. America is to nations what Roberto Clemente was to right fielders. The Pirates legend fretted endlessly about how poorly he felt and how sick he was — while vigorously spraying hits and vacuuming fly balls.

So don't reach for the defibrillator paddles or the rosary beads quite yet.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2056582,00.html#ixzz1Fk9nsZR9

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an Op Ed by William Martin, US Consul General, published in The Express Tribune:


Perhaps showing the generation gap, I did not know that Pakistan has such a lively and active blogging community, with over three million citizen-journalists freely reporting on virtually every topic under the sun. Pakistan has one of the fastest-growing Facebook and Twitter-using populations in the world, with over four million Facebook users. Remarkably, the per capita internet access in Pakistan is between 10-15 per cent of the total population — more than double that of neighbouring India. Using even the most conservative estimates, 20 million Pakistanis are regularly online, or the equivalent of the population of four Singapores.

Pakistan enjoys tremendous freedom of information and online expression. As a representative of the United States, I am keenly aware of the vibrancy of that free speech every time I log in to my computer or pick up a newspaper. Although a bit bruised sometimes, I welcome it! By amplifying the diversity of voices, social media is making life a richer experience for us all. And this is possible because Pakistanis are using their freedom of expression every day, online. Blogging is reinforcing the backbone of democracy – freedom of speech – a freedom that is enshrined in the US Constitution.

In Pakistan, the freedom of the press was earned over time, through the sacrifices of its people, especially the sacrifices of those in the media community. Journalists and bloggers now play a central role in the effort to institutionalise these hard won freedoms.

We must never forget, the many journalists who have been killed or injured as they sought to report on the challenges facing us today. They take extraordinary risks to enlighten us with the truth. Nobody embodied this commitment more than Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was senselessly murdered trying to pursue this truth. All of us are diminished by his passing. But, there is no doubt that his work will continue and others will pick up the baton and carry on. It is up to each of us to honour his legacy and do all we can to support press freedom as a fundamental right to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. Blog on.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Forbes cover story (Dec 19, 2011) on venture money for Pak entrepreneurs:

Novogratz plays the role of auditor because, as CEO and founder of the Acumen Fund, helping people starts with financial due diligence. In April Acumen sank $1.9 million into the bank (National Rural Support Programme Bank in Pakistan) in exchange for an 18% stake, one small investment in a decadelong experiment in charitable giving. Instead of shoveling aid dollars to causes or governments that give away life-­sustaining goods and services, Acumen espouses investing money wisely in small-time entrepreneurs in the developing world who strive to solve problems, from mosquito netting to bottled water to affordable housing. It’s a new twist on the old adage about teaching a man to fish, except that Novogratz wants to build an entire fish market.
------------
Acumen has given Pakistani farmers the ability to access cash at credit card rates, versus the loan shark terms of before—a staggering 125,000 clients have tapped the bank for $30 million in new credit this year. Novogratz’s infusion has also allowed the bank to take deposits for the first time, introducing the idea of savings, and 6% interest rates, to a community that has been locked in poverty for centuries. Since April 10,000 farmers have deposited $7 million in the bank, which of course has resulted in yet more loans.
----------
Weeks later Novogratz fortuitously got two anonymous gifts of $500,000 each and took her first trip to Pakistan in January 2002. Acumen has since invested $13 million there in 12 businesses: Ansaar Management Co. (affordable housing), Kashf Foundation (microlending to women) and Micro Drip (agricultural irrigation), among them. She has also collected $2.7 million from 40 Pakistani donors and traveled to that country 20 times, turning one of the most volatile, anti-American populations into a vibrant experiment in alleviating poverty.
-------------
That’s why I find myself in a rural village 10 miles outside the city of Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city. Novogratz has come to check on another investment—and to collect the precious data she hopes to use in new fundraising. Here on 20 acres, Saiban, a nonprofit developer, has built homes for an eventual 450 Pakistani families, most of whom earn $2 to $4 a day. The $4,000 units are 85% occupied. You see the occasional motorcycle parked in front, where a few women mill about, talking or hanging laundry.
-----------
These aren’t the answers Novogratz is fishing for. She wants to hear examples of people using their homes as collateral to get college loans for their children or amassing a better dowry for their daughters so they can marry into a more prosperous family. She wraps up the meeting. “So, the next time I come, you’re going to have some good metrics for me? ’Cause this is my challenge for the world.” Someone says, “Inshallah [God willing].”

Novogratz smiles, but shakes her head: “Not inshallah. We’re going to do it!”
....


http://www.forbes.com/sites/helencoster/2011/11/30/novogratz/4/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's part 1 of National Geographic story about Pakistan's heartland of Punjab:

The fertile alluvium deposited by the mighty Indus river and its tributaries in Pakistan have given the country’s demographic heartland of Punjab an agrarian edge. Yet, errant canal planning and over-pumping from tube-wells have degraded vast tracts of land. Salinity and water-logging afflicts around 6.3 million hectares of land and an additional 4,000 hectare of land gets affected every year (estimates from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan, November 2011). Climate change and conflicts over hydroelectric impoundment infrastructure have also made the arable lands of the country further vulnerable to flooding, as we saw in the epic floods of 2010 when an estimated 20 million people were displaced.

Amidst all these challenges to the farming economy of the country, there are glimmers of hope that Pakistan’s elite are trying to reconnect with the land in sincere and innovative ways. During my last trip to Lahore – the capital of Punjab province and Pakistan’s second-largest city (after Karachi), I was heartened to see urbanites retreating to farms in the surrounding countryside. Previously such farms were merely ornamental playgrounds of wealthy families but now there is a growing interest in these ranks to reconnect with the earth for societal good.

Zacky Farms, just outside Lahore, is the brainchild of Zafar Khan, a Caltech-educated software engineer who runs one of the most successful information technology companies in Pakistan named Sofizar. What started off as a recreational venture is now a side-business supplying sustainably produced organic milk, vegetables and meat to nearby Lahore suburbs. The farm is modeled on a cyclical model of minimal wastes and multiple product usage. The cows are fed pesticide-free oats, clover and grass and their manure is used to fuela biogas plant which runs the dairy facility. In an era of electricity load-shedding, such an alternative source of energy at a local industrial scale is immensely valuable to replicate as a development path. The residue of the biogas is used to fertigate the fodder fields and vegetable tunnels, which along with green manuring obviates the use of fertilizers. Free-range chickens grace the fields and there is even a fish farm on site. Zafar and his Ukrainian-born wife are committed to sharing their experiences with other farming entrepreneurs in the country.

Further south in a more rural and remote part of Punjab, famed writer and erstwhile lawyer, Daniyal Mueenudin, maintains a mid-size farm which is exemplifying other kinds of innovations. The farm does not boast ecological farming practices, apart from tunnel farming that can help with land conservation and humidity control. However, Daniyal has changed the social landscape of his area through implementing a “living wage” for all his employees. Noting the high level of inequality in Pakistan’s hinterland, the Yale-educated former director of the university’s Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, is practicing what he preached. He also owns a farm in Wisconsin and could have a comfortable life in the States but his social obligations keep him ensconced in Pakistan for most of the year....


http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/23/farming-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's part 2 of National Geographic story about Pakistan's heartland of Punjab:

...Raising the wage several-fold for works and farm manager, and also offering bonus incentives for performance, has led to positive competition that can help to erode the feudal levels of income disparity which exist in this part of Pakistan. At the same time, Daniyal is also committed to providing new livelihood paths for the agrarian workers as automation reduces farm employment in some areas. He has has fully funded a school and provided a merit-based scholarship for advanced degrees to students from the nearby village. One of the children from this school (the first in his family to even go to school) is now making his way through medical school in Lahore!

Zafar and Daniyal’s stories of commitment to constructive farming for social and ecological good may appear to be outliers but they are catching on and provide hope to a country which is all too often shadowed by despair. In the suburbs of Islamabad, tax incentives and planning rules to encourage farming by urbanites are leading to a growing culture of reconnecting with the land in residential farms. In rural areas, the disaster caused by the floods of 2010 brought forth numerous aid agencies with new ideas for sustainable farming. The Pakistani diaspora, often known in the West for professions ranging from taxi-driving to engineering, may well find opportunities for reconnecting to their land in far more literal ways. With growing commitment from land-owners it just might be possible to use the existential shock of recent natural disasters that have befallen the country into a proverbial opportunity for positive change.


http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/23/farming-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Khan Academy.org is the 6485th most popular site in Pakistan based on a combination of average daily visitors and pageviews. 1.3% of the Khan Academy.org users come from Pakistan and they generate 0.6% of the pageviews on Khan Academy.org, according to Alexa.

http://www.appappeal.com/maps/khan-academy-org/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's TED blog on Peter Diamandis, the author of "Abundance":

Diamandis starts off his talk with some fast-cut clips of “crisis! Death! Disaster!” he’s collected from the last six months. The news media, he says, preferentially presents us with negative stories, because that’s what we pay attention to. And there’s a reason for that: since nothing is more important than survival, the first stop for all this awful information is the amygdala, the human early warning detection system that looks out for things that might harm us. In other words, we’re hard-wired to pay attention to the negative, dark side.

“So it’s no wonder that we’re pessimistic. it’s no wonder that people think the world is getting worse.” But Diamandis didn’t co-found Singularity University on a mere whim. From here, he swings into his more usual, optimistic mode: “We have the potential in the next three decades to create a world of abundance [the theme of Diamandis' recent book.] I’m not saying we don’t have our set of problems; we surely do,” he says. “As humans we’re far better at seeing the problems way in advance. Ultimately, we knock them down.”

Diamandis runs through some stats from the last century to show how things have improved for humankind. And he outlines some of the extraordinary advances made, particularly within the technological realm. After all: ”The rate at which technology is getting faster is itself getting faster.” And based on the likes of Moore’s Law ride some incredibly powerful technologies, not least robotics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and nanomaterials.

Now, some stories:

Energy

Napoleon III once invited the King of Siam to dinner. Napoleon’s troops ate with silver utensils; Napoleon ate with gold utensils; the King of Siam used aluminum utensils–precisely because at that time, aluminum was the most valuable metal on the planet. It was only with electrolysis that the metal became cheap. Similar moves are happening in energy in our current times; solar energy, for instance, is now 50% of the cost of diesel in India.

Water

We talk about water wars. And yet we fight over 0.5% of the water on the planet. Diamandis talks of Dean Kamen’s Slingshot device, which can generate 100 liters clean water from any source. Coca Cola is apparently going to test this in the field soon–with a view to deploying it globally. Given how much water that company consumes, this is a big deal. Or, as Diamandis puts it, “this is the kind of innovation empowered by this technology that exists today.”

Health

Diamandis talks of the recently-announced Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, challenging teams to incorporate medical diagnostic tools into a mobile device. “Imagine this device in the middle of the developing world,” he says, starrily. What of the potential of someone swabbing an unrecognized disease, calling it into the CDC and preventing a pandemic? Heady stuff.

Population

“The biggest protection against the population explosion is making the world educated and healthy,” says Diamandis, detailing that 5 billion people will be connected online by 2020. “What will these people want and desire?” And why wouldn’t that cause an economic injection rather than an economic shutdown? Why won’t they be healthier through the use of the Tricorder, better educated because of the likes of Khan Academy or using 3d printing to be more productive than ever before?


http://blog.ted.com/2012/02/28/creating-a-world-of-abundance-peter-diamandis-at-ted2012/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story of a celebrated CEO's departure in Pakistan:

(Asad Umar's) tenure at Engro has certainly been a remarkably successful one. When Umar took over as President and CEO of the company in January 2004, Engro was largely just a fertiliser manufacturer with a small petrochemical subsidiary. Under his leadership, however, the company turned into a diversified industrial conglomerate, with interests ranging from fertilizers, foods, petrochemicals, chemical storage, energy and commodity trading.

Small wonder, then, that Dawood was effusive in his praise of Umar when announcing the departure to the company’s employees, noting that under his leadership, Engro’s revenues had grown from just Rs13 billion in 2004 to Rs114 billion in 2011, growing at an annualised rate of nearly 36.4%. (Inflation during that time averaged 12.6% per year.)

Even within the core fertiliser business, Umar took Engro from being a local player to a globally competitive one, leading the firm into the $1.1 billion project that set up the world’s largest single-train urea manufacturing plant in Pakistan.

Umar’s 27-year career at Engro began in 1985, when the company was still a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, the global oil giant. “I still remember the exact figure of my first salary: Rs8,170 per month. My boss at the time said ‘Well, frankly they are paying you too much.’” As CEO of Engro Corporation, Umar was paid Rs68.6 million for the year 2011, which comes to a monthly salary of Rs5.7 million.

In addition to his salary, Umar, 50, was also paid in stock and currently owns about 2 million shares of the company, with options to buy another 924,000, according to Engro’s latest available financial statements. At Monday’s closing price of Rs102.47 per share, that puts the value of Umar’s stocks and options at over Rs300 million.

Umar represents the growing class of executives trained by the country’s business schools who made it big by working their way up the corporate ladder rather than being born into privilege. Umar graduated from the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi in 1984, working for a short stint at HSBC Pakistan before moving to what was then Exxon Chemical Pakistan as a business analyst.

He was the only Pakistani employee of Exxon working abroad (in Canada) when the famous management buyout of Engro took place in 1991. Umar came back to Pakistan and in 1997 was appointed the first CEO of Engro Polymer & Chemicals, the group’s petrochemical arm.

When became president of the company in 2004, he immediately made the company take a global perspective, becoming the first Pakistani private sector firm to hire the top (and expensive) US consulting firm McKinsey & Company to help create the Engro’s strategy. Engro changed its corporate structure as a result of that engagement and is now on a global expansion kick, buying out a US-based food company and considering expanding into the fertiliser business in North Africa to supply the European market.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/365621/corporate-titan-after-27-years-at-engro-asad-umar-calls-it-a-day/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on social entrepreneurship in Pakistan:

The social enterprise landscape in Pakistan is nascent but fast-growing. From diverse sectors ranging from dairy farms to educational hubs to micro drip irrigation, early-stage enterprises have the potential of achieving hybrid financial return and social impact. Crucially, they are attracting interest from impact investors and business angels alike.

But how can these entrepreneurs be better financed, nurtured and trained?

Crucially, funding for small enterprises should meet the specific needs of the entrepreneur from seed financing to venture capital to growth equity. Social entrepreneurs need financial, but also non-financial, support such as mentoring, implementation guidance, and skills training development. Business school 'accelerator' programs and incubator hubs, which aim to accelerate the development of successful enterprises through such support mechanisms, combined with strong policy frameworks, can help create a long-term, self-sustaining ecosystem.

A report launched today by the Economic Policy Group (EPG) explores how incubator hubs can unlock the innovation potential of Pakistan's social entrepreneurs.

Successful incubator models already exist in some of Pakistan's premier business schools. The country's top business school, the IBA in Karachi, has in fact launched a partnership with Invest2Innovate (i2i), a social impact intermediary, to fast track the best entrepreneurs through its i2i Accelerator, a four-month program providing access to quality entrepreneurship education, skills, and opportunities.

"The IBA-i2i partnership helps start-ups who have passion and ability, but not the resources, to start their own businesses. It is a necessary step for growing and scaling viable businesses in the Pakistani market," says Kalsoom Lakhani, founder of i2i.

Other independent incubators across Pakistan, such as the Pasha Social Innovation Fund and Women's Business Incubation Centre, work with entrepreneurs across demographic segments in both rural and urban areas. The rise in popularity of these players is largely due to their ability to harness technology and digital media as communication platforms to empower entrepreneurs.

In the northern areas of Pakistan, where honey is one of the main agricultural commodities, Hashoo Foundation's Honeybee Project provided women beekeepers with beehives, as well as the associated training programmes to transfer this specialised skill-set to the wider community.
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According to Dr Iman Bibars, regional director of Ashoka Arab World, "creating awareness for the potential of entrepreneurship among policymakers, relevant institutions and the public at large is essential to help establish an enabling environment that social entrepreneurs can flourish in."

On a macro level, the investment in human talent and institutions will raise both investor confidence and entrepreneurial confidence in the country. By changing minsets through incubator hubs, education, mentoring and training programmes, a strong enabling environment for social entrepreneurship can be fostered in Pakistan.


http://socialenterprise.guardian.co.uk/social-enterprise-network/2013/feb/07/pakistan-social-entrepreneurs-innovation-potential