LAHORE: As the trend of start-ups gains traction, many tech-savvy entrepreneurs are looking to introduce some innovative concepts in Pakistan.
Among these is Badar Khushnood, who has launched an entrepreneurial awareness and skills development programme for students between the age of 8 and 15 years.
Through this venture, Khushnood, the co-founder of juniorfounder.com, seeks to groom students from an early age so that they are able to move away from the conventional method of education and are instead taught to understand the role of enterprise and entrepreneurship in an economy.
This start-up launched by him and his wife, Faiza Badar, who is the main stake-holder behind the plant, is a daunting project as it is challenging to convince parents to enrol their children in this activity.
The start-up aims to teach children the ability to understand entrepreneurship through courses that include marketing, financials, writing, research, presentation, listening, creative thinking, problem solving and team building skills.
One wonders how a child of eight or 15 years of age can be taught these.
“The conventional schooling in Pakistan is creating corporate slavery,” Khushnood, who used to be the country consultant for Twitter and Google, told The Express Tribune.
“We are producing doctors, engineers and business graduates with the same old course outlines, which at the end create a mismatch of modern day business or job market demand and the supply from our institutes.”
In Pakistan, some 250,000 students graduate every year against roughly 50,000 job opportunities, but majority of them are unable to find suitable jobs.
“In the Silicon Valley there are hundreds of jobs available, but our generation couldn’t get them simply because they didn’t have the required skill set,” he said, adding that we need to create entrepreneurs instead of job seekers to recruit the ever increasing number of graduates in Pakistan.
“We don’t have much innovation in local skill sets and we are basically serving the multinationals by doing their jobs at their criteria instead of creating innovations in small scale businesses within Pakistan.”
To overhaul the entire curricula, it needs at least three generations to reap the fruits, which of course needs lots of struggle, so why not create a by-pass to educate the growing kids what entrepreneurship really is, the start-up founder added.
The team recruits children online and teaches them the basics of entrepreneurship. Currently, families with an entrepreneurial background have sent their kids to the workshop, which completed last month, as the idea is more appealing to them than it is to families working jobs.
The management thinks that this is the best age to plant the seed of entrepreneurship by engaging children in activity-based small workshops in different groupings solving the course outlines in a creative manner.
“We cannot give them lectures at this stage, we need to channelise their energy, by putting them in design thinking, communicating with each other etc so they should identify problems in a society, convert them in to challenge and then solve it creatively, this is what entrepreneurship is, “ Khushnood said.
Currently, the idea is functioning at a small-scale level, but Khushnood said that the plan is to collaborate with schools and educational institutes to not just secure financing, but expand operations as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2017.
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