Rewarding genius: A night for young entrepreneurs

By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune

KARACHI: American entrepreneur Jim Rohn had rightly said that the few who actually act are the envy of the many who only watch. The ten entrepreneurs shortlisted for Shell Tameer Awards 2012 were the centre of attention on Friday, as the corporate elite of Karachi gathered at Shell House to recognise their entrepreneurial successes.

Amidst rounds of applause in the jam-packed auditorium, Shell Pakistan Social Investment Manager Afshan Khan announced the names of the winners after a panel of judges comprising prominent figures from a range of businesses and the academia visited the stalls set up by these entrepreneurs to display their products and services.

Gulraiz Khan of Samovar Tea and Coffee House, Karachi, clinched first position; Syeda Neelma Shah and Rabiya Riaz of Echo Customised Clothing and Accessories, Peshawar, came second; Shahzeb Saeed of Shahzeb Saeed Menswear, Karachi, was third; and the social enterprise award went to Salma Raheem of Zardozi Bridal Wear of Zardozi Dera Jatta, a village near Rahim Yar Khan.

The awards ceremony is a platform for entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 32 from across Pakistan to be recognised for their business achievements.

According to a recent report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), Pakistanis have less favourable attitude towards entrepreneurship than the people living in other countries that have similar economic conditions. The report also says that the established business ownership (EBO) rate for male entrepreneurs in Pakistan is almost nine times that of the female’s EBO rate. However, five of the ten finalists for Shell Tameer Awards 2012 were women.

The recipient of the first prize is a graduate of Lahore University of Management Sciences and currently a staffer at The Express Tribune. Khan said he craved relaxing, open spaces in Karachi. Samovar Tea and Coffee House, he says, links open spaces perfect for stimulating discussion with the excitement of travelling to a new place.

Talking to The Express Tribune, recipients of the second award said the merchandise they had brought to Karachi to display at Shell House was sold out within hours. Students of BBA at the University of Peshawar, Shah and Riaz said they worked with female vendors from Swat, Charsadda and Mardan. “They are skilled women and we help them with designs only,” Riaz said.

The recipient of the third prize told The Express Tribune that he started with an investment of Rs45,000. “I make profits and reinvest them. My last year’s sales were over Rs1 million,” said Saeed whose company produces customised shirts from high-quality, imported fabric for corporate executives.

Addressing the ceremony, British High Commissioner Adam Thomson said he was impressed with the young entrepreneurs that he was now going to use as examples to persuade ‘timid’ British companies to invest in Pakistan. He said he wanted the United Kingdom to be the country with the largest foreign investment in Pakistan.

So far 75,000 young people have been engaged by Shell Tameer through 112 workshops and 127 seminars nationwide. Its efforts have resulted in 1,000 start-ups, providing employment to over 22,500 people.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17, 2012.

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