Urban Youth Project: The third spell

From a fantastic 300 applications, 30 micro entrepreneurs from low income communities in Lahore, and 35 from Karachi, were taken in and trained.

Driven by a singular intent – the National Incubation Center in Lahore set out to increase employment opportunities for youth struggling to make ends meet. Through the establishment of this initiative; qualities of dedication and reliability, amongst a plethora of others, were the key qualities sought-after  in people scouted from low income communities.

Here’s what our trainer had to say about her experience with some of the micro-entrepreneurs.

Sabahat Bukhari spoke about the training that she conducted in both Lahore and Karachi. She claimed: “The Urban Youth Program is very unique because it provides opportunities to those young people who not only belong to the certain specific areas of Lahore but also really need it. It is the push these individuals with ideas need to believe that they too can make it in the business world. The training teaches them how to direct their energies in the right direction.” When asked about the curriculum, she stated, “It very artfully merges the impact of the training. The content is needs based. Additionally, the program is designed so that even when a student finishes the training course, we monitor their progress and continue to steer them in a positive direction as their business grows.

She added: “It is the required balance that prepares them for the real world, which is why its impact in society is greater.”

When asked if any entrepreneur shone out, she spoke of two startups in particular: “Muhammad Irfan and Khizar stood out for me the most. Irfan

transformed from a shy, timid and overwhelmed individual into an eager and confident businessman.

Khizar, who is also differently abled, completed the content online and transformed from someone who lacked confidence and self-esteem into someone who walks into a room and commands attention. Prior to the UYP training, Khizer had trained as a chef and even developed a menu of Mexican food items. However, he had never tried selling these. UYP helped him take his product to market and he even bagged his first food delivery order during the same week as the program.

Concluding her experience, she spoke of the NIC team, including Ittqa Gul and Minahil Zia, and applauded them for remaining involved throughout the program at a personal level. She stated; “The two ladies ensured that the entrepreneurs knew they mattered.”

Sabahat also added: “The entrepreneurs all connected and felt like a family and were willing to collaborate. I believe there is a cultural change required in the youth of society in terms of social impact and, in that regard, the training program truly has outdone itself. Everyone is doing something for themselves and investing what they’re earning.  If they can do it, why can’t anyone else.”


Rida Khalid Bhutta – Senior Associate, Social Media and Digital Marketing
National Incubation Center Lahore

January 2020

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 Center 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.