Investing in successful young entrepreneurs to build Pakistan’s economic future

The British Asian Trust and The Citi Foundation are delighted to announce the launch of the new Urban Youth Enterprises Incubator, set up to help young people in Pakistan develop and grow thriving businesses. The project, implemented by the LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship, seeks to unlock economic opportunities and create jobs for young people from low income backgrounds.

The new project aims to tap into the creativity of young people with business ideas and support them with training, mentoring and investment to effectively compete for economic opportunities such as starting a profitable business or getting a job.

Pakistan has a growing labour force that largely consists of young people with 1.7 million added to the workforce each year. Young people are more likely to be unemployed with four million between the ages of 15-24 years out of work – a number set to grow to 8.6 million by 2020. That’s a significant and growing number of young people who are at greater risk of social exclusion, income inequality and reduced prospects, and also represents a serious employability gap that negatively impacts Pakistan’s productivity and economic potential.

The first cohort of 20 potential entrepreneurs are being recruited to the initiative through an assessment process. The LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship works through universities and grass roots organisations with access to low income communities to identify and recruit potential entrepreneurs with a particular focus on young women. The range of potential business ideas to date include a woman entrepreneur looking to market solar powered light bulbs, a home cooked lunch delivery service and an all women restaurant to provide a space where women can socialise and enjoy great food.

In total 60 young people will access training in business skills including financial management, marketing and leadership skills. 12 enterprises will be selected for further intensive support including mentoring and seed funding, as well as access to the networks required to launch and grow a successful income-generating business.

“We believe that there is terrific untapped potential in the young people of Pakistan,” said Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust. “With the right support and training young people can thrive in their careers and become an asset for the country.”

The Urban Youth Enterprises Incubator is funded by Citi Foundation, which has a particular focus on reducing youth unemployment and improving the quality of the youth workforce through its global initiative Pathways to Progress. Led by the Citi Foundation with the involvement of dedicated Citi volunteers, Pathways to Progress supports programmes, globally, that help young people aged 16-24 to build an entrepreneurial mindset, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills, and begin to engage in the formal economy through a first job.

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