By: Asama Bhadelia
“Enterprises have been the core of the economic fabric of Pakistan as the country lacks industrial growth in each sector causing fewer job opportunities in percentage comparison to the population growth.”
Karachi: Since decades, poverty alleviation has been a subject of interest amongst the international community. In the midst of unfortunate economic state of affairs in Pakistan, entrepreneurship and enterprise development has and continues to exist as a beacon hope amongst the private sector.
The term “poverty” is often understood as a negative connotation for a lack of resources, leading a certain segment of the society to become a part of the lower-income strata. This in definition only explains a type of poverty which according to United Nations, Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is known as income poverty . Income poverty prevails when a family’s earnings fail to meet a federally established threshold which may vary from country to country.
The main reason for prevailing poverty in our society is the income disparity leading to the formation of classes among the society. It is true that rich is getting richer and poor is getting poorer. If you look at examples of developing nations such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, we find emerging middle class, on the contrary, in Pakistan the upper middle class seems to be moving towards the upper class and lower middle class is continuously forced to become a part of lower class. In the midst of this situation, we have numerous economic welfare organizations, social workers & social enterprises that are working towards uplifting the strata of the society in hopes of improving the situation.
The country is fortunate to have people and organizations that believe education and technical expertise are two areas which when instilled among the generations can bolster the economic situation of multiple strata of the society. Enterprises have been the core of the economic fabric of Pakistan as the country lacks industrial growth in each sector causing fewer job opportunities in percentage comparison to the population growth.
The NOGs and Social Enterprises with the support of international Developmental sector is working on the roots of Nano & Small Enterprise development for the grassroots of the society in rural, suburban and urban slums areas of the country which leads to convenient livelihood of poor. This is now getting popular amongst the development sector to create a sustainable livelihood for the people living below poverty line for two major reasons, firstly that they can live independently in the long run and secondly to decrease the crime rate of the society as many researches proves an indirect relation between employment and crime rate of societies.
In Karachi, recently known area of gang wars and warlords is now turning into a peaceful area, and the main reason to this change is through awareness and development of youth towards enterprise development of small scale where they have been provided trainings and minor resources to start their own mini-ventures which will create livelihood and will also provide them activity to look forward to in their daily routine which keeps them away from violent and criminal activities. This is a much needed transformation all over the country to bring lower class including extreme poverty population towards betterment of society as a whole and living standards as individual.
We can take few examples where people from slum has grown to be entrepreneurs and changed the way people think of these slums as permanent & dependent structure of the society. Abdur-Rehman, 57, was a known co-ordinator of one the gangs of lyari for more than a decade. Couple of years back when his own son was murdered in one of the same incident, made him realise the actual end to these activities. Abdur-Rehman was then approached by one the social enterprise to attend their courses for self-development program of 2 months duration which took him away from these activities and now it is almost an year he is the only key-maker of his street, this has given him respect and reputation rather than fear from the people residing in that vicinity.
People like Adur-Rehman can change the perception of entrepreneurship on grassroots which can eventually set up example for current unemployed or distracted people to make their own sustainable model of livelihood without dependency or being part of violent activities of any kind. Education and inculcation of this thought process in minds of lower class as well as extreme poverty population is very important as Job market situation is very tight to absorb all the supply, even at its lowest level.
The writer is a Associate Trainer, Associate Manager and Project Coordinator at a social enterprise, SEED.