Making progress in Karachi; the Urban Youth Project

Sikander Bizenjo is the project manager of the Urban Youth Project, Karachi. He is an economist and a development practitioner with years of experience including consultancies to government departments in Pakistan. He tweets @sikanderbizenjo.

 On September 9th, 35 young entrepreneurs were trained under the first cohort of highly successful Urban Youth Project in Karachi. The project was initiated in Karachi for the first time in collaboration between Karachi School of Business and Leadership (KSBL), the British Asian Trust, Citi Foundation and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) under the pathways to progress global initiative. 

The trainees gathered on the first day to get briefed on how to use the digital app that has been created to facilitate this one of a kind entrepreneurial training. The training which included segments on finance, digital and traditional marketing, pitching their ideas, dealing with people etc. lasted for seven consecutive days. The idea of this training was to equip young entrepreneurs with advanced business and entrepreneurial knowledge to expand their businesses and create more jobs in the economy.

About 4 million young people between the ages of 15 to 24 are unemployed and this number is set to double by next year. The idea behind the Urban Youth Project is to fill the gap of growing unemployment and to capitalize on the growing labour force in the country. According to government statistics, 1.7 million young people in the country are reaching the working age every year. However, most of them fail to secure any job due to stagnant economic conditions. This further worsens for women.

Despite the fact that women make up 49% of the country’s population, they are the still the most underrepresented and vulnerable when it comes to economic independence. Keeping this in mind, the Karachi cohort was carefully selected to give representation to women entrepreneurs as well; the cohort in Karachi comprised of almost 50% of women entrepreneurs.

Within a few months of the training, the cohort is already looking strong. Success stories are coming in from majority of the trainees which include new orders, revamping business models, reshaping marketing methods, creation of new jobs among others. In addition to their success stories, great things are in the pipeline from KSBL. For instance, we are planning to organize one day trainings on social media marketing and Microsoft office where the trainees have requested additional help. To sum it up, it is not mere a training but a journey with us and all our partners.

Sikander Bizenjo, Project Manager of the Urban Youth Project, Karachi.
November 2019

The British Asian Trust launched the Urban Youth Enterprises Incubator in Pakistan with Citi Foundation in 2016 and continues to be funded under the Foundation’s Pathways to Progress programme. This business incubator, delivered by Lahore University of Management Sciences National Incubation Centre and now Karachi School of Business and Leadership, supports the employment of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to build an entrepreneurial mindset, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills and start to engage in the formal economy through a first job or through developing and growing a thriving business.