In an interview with i-genius, Uzma Alvi explans that seeing young people’s ability to work ‘beyond borders’ has ignited within her a curiosity and passion for life. She goes on to describe the vital role that entrepreurship has in Pakistan, and her hopes for the future…
Editor: What has inspired you in your career so far,and what drives you now?
Uzma: I think inspiration needs not to be a mysterious, unexplainable thing. While it is true that it can happen unexpectedly taking a shower, or on walk, to discuss and brainstorm can lead to all sorts of unexpected and exciting ideas. It is not effortless, but it can yield good results. However my inspiration comes from a number of people I’m blessed with who set examples for me. People with the desire to take ideas and turn them into reality have been greatest source of inspiration in my career. My answer would be incomplete without mentioning a few names. My father who in his life worked at his highest potential and gained a lot of respect. He was hard-working and committted from the start of his career. My grandmother who lived in the UK for more than 3 decades, where she was given Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizebeth for her services in the field of education. Some teacher from school and university, graduate students and activists who have placed their influenced on my life and my career and even now drives me and gets me going! I am also inspired by all different people work together towards change.
Editor: Can you explain a bit about the work of Global Youth Business Network?
Uzma: I am currently in a process of establishing Global Youth Business Network for which i am making contacts all around the world and so far I have been quite successful. Global Youth Business Network is a unique concept, my project has many benefits for young people. The project will generate employment opportunities for young people world-wide.
The project is divided into two parts.The 1st part is to build Global Youth business network and the 2nd part of the project is to build the consortium of Financial Institiutions which will be helping young people by providing them with professional services including, finances,advisory services etc. Businesses will be based on partnership between the youth of different countries. The vision of the project is to bring together business and ideas of like-minded young people through business partnership,improve business related skills by mutual learning,increase entrepreneurship knowledge and to bulid Global Youth Business Network. The aim of the project is to seek new youth companies establishment, to establish business in partner’s region and to provide reliable youth partners for the purpose of doing joint business in different countries.This requires a number of conferences and sesssions to be orgainsed. The conferences and sessions between business and youth will bring fresh ideas and new directions. In this project can participate partners who want to create organizations for youth enterprise promotion by becoming part of the consortium.
Editor: What inspired you to work with young people?
Uzma: There are so many answers to this question I hardly know where to start! There are a few reasons. One of the reasons is that I find it a wonderful experience and very satisfying experience to be with young people. It’s a great thing to have a chance to share your excitement and wonder about the world with young people because they respond. I find that I am my best self when I am with young people -I am more patient, more generous, more curious about the world around me.Young people often have similar concerns so they are always ready to work together even beyond borders.
Editor: What are the major probelms in Pakistan,and how do you seek to tackle them through your work?
Uzma: There are a number of problems faced by Pakistan including burden of international debt,under-utilization of natural resources,high rates of population growth,lack of enterprise and initiative,brain drain.At present Pakistan is going through macro-economic difficulties due to various socio-political and economic factors, which have resulted in decline of real earnings of the lowest income groups in the country. These problems have a human face. The country is confronted with an acute problem of unemployment and underemployment . The failure to find jobs appears to have led the educated youth towards either inactivity or further involvement in education.Although now the the percentage of unemploymed people is not same anymore but the rate of growth has been slow.
Youth unemployment is an issue to be addressed both in developing and developed nations. There are a billion young adults – between the ages of 15 and 24 – in the world today. Eighty-five percent of them live in developing countries where there are few opportunities for productive work. High levels of youth unemployment contribute to poverty, discontent, alienation, social unrest, conflict, and urban migration, all of which hinder economic growth and threaten political stability. Young people, when gainfully employed, represent a tremendous resource for developing and industrialized nations; they can bring energy, creativity, and imagination to many nation-building tasks, from building infrastructure to preserving the environment. But until a global, collaborative approach is developed that empowers youth to promote environmental sustainability, and make this an economically viable alternative, a valuable asset to help address global environmental goals will remain untapped.
I personallly believe that Enterprise clearly makes a big difference in tackling the problem of unemployment to a great extend. My project has an global approach and partnership will open doors, and will provide benefits not only to young people in Pakistan but outside Pakistan, through partnerships with education authorities, communities, NGOs, organisations, business can strengthen local communities and improve the career options for young people. As far as tackling the problem of unemployment in my country is concerned I must say that it is not an easy job but not impossible at all. I want to provide best business partnership opportunities to the youngsters here and for youngsters living in other countries which will help them in improving entrepreneurship skills from each other later they can utlise their skills and experiences and can be beneficial for Pakistani youth (who are new in this field) and can be mentors,young professionals,consultants etc.
Editor: What does being a “Social Entrepreneur” mean to you? What is the role of entrepreneurship in Pakistan?
Uzma: To me a “social entrepreneur” is anybody who is offering his or her time and energy to address any social or economic problem of a group or community. The problem addressed may be a small local problem or a big global problem. The action of a social entrepreneur may need money, or may not need money. It may be a campaign for or against something. It may need cooperation and coordination with others. I personallly believe that Social Entrepreurs are active agents of change and can bring a positive change in the world through their restless efforts.
Entrepreneurship and economic development are intimately related. Entrepreneurial process is a major factor in economic development and the entrepreneur is the key to economic growth. Whatever be the form of economic and political set-up of the country, entrepreneurship is indispensable for economic development. Pakistan is in a process of development. It has a unique cultural context and has a lot of potential of entrepreneurship.There are a few national organisations currently working in the this arena in the country and helping people, becoming successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneuship plays a vital role in Pakistan. It seeks talented people who can really make a difference in the society. It enhances entreprenuership skills by providing platform for sharing business related ideas with one another. Entrepreneurship is a key to creating jobs, improving competitiveness, boosting exports, fostering economic growth and reducing poverty, and to an extend entrepreneurship has done this in Pakistan.
Editor: What are your hopes for the future, for yourself, your company, and your country?
Uzma: I try to remain optimistic and flexible. My hopes for the future, as with any year, is to see myself well-educated and do to specialisition in my desired field that is Economics and Business.In the future i hope to establish Global Youth Business Network.I want to put my best efforts do a better job and better job of working with young people, providing great experiences and showcase new discoveries. I think there is so much hope for the future of Pakistan that it will continue to grow as a developed country. I believe Pakistan can make its way through the trouble, and build a future worthy of the vision of its founders: A stable, prosperous, democratic Pakistan, an engine of growth and confident in its future.