Author Archives: Emad Sohail

Job Seeker or Job Creator? Global Entrepreneurship Week in Pakistan


Entrepreneurship has become a major phenomenon in Pakistan. Among the highlights of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014, local startup “TalLee” was selected for the GEW 50 2014 as one of the top 50 startup ventures from around the world — chosen from among 600 startups from 38 countries.

TalLee sells door bells; the innovation that makes these door bells so special is that they have GSM capability, so that the owner of the house gets a phone call (irrespective of location) and connects with the person who has pressed the doorbell. The idea was conceived by Rafi, who founded TalLee in April 2014 and was offered incubation space at NUST Technology Incubation Center (TIC).

A seminar on Entrepreneurship for Economic Growth was also held in Karachi on November 21, 2014, jointly organized by the Karachi School for Business and Leadership and the National Entrepreneurship Working Group. Various factors that inhibit the growth of entrepreneurship were discussed. Among these, the lack of focus on critical creative thinking in the country’s education system was identified to be a key reason why graduates prefer joining the rank of job-seekers and not creators.

This inspired me to visualize my job hunting days and also to further investigate why critical creative thinking is absent from our education system. In 2004, when I graduated from an engineering university, seeking a job was written on my forehead. Dropping CVs to company after company was foremost on my to-do list, and after several interviews, one company hit me with an unusual question: why don’t you become an entrepreneur?

Read More…

Pakistan Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014


Pakistan is charged up to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2014. GEW has become a yearly phenomenon, with universities, GEW-Pakistan partners, chambers of commerce, and companies all sponsoring events during the week of November 17-23.

Read More…

Governance Principles for Business Associations and Chambers of Commerce: Now Available in Urdu

urdu-gov-principlesBusiness associations need strong governance systems and guiding principles in order to effectively serve their members and act as advocates for policy change. In Pakistan, business associations are mostly struggling to adapt effective governing mechanisms that could ease the path to successfully achieving their vision, mission, and objectives.

Societal norms are changing, the business environment is getting more complex and challenging, and following the principles of corporate governance should now be one of the foremost issues that business associations must address.

CIPE has a huge online library of resources and publications through which business associations can get instant guidance and support. In order to facilitate good governance principles within business associations, CIPE and the World Chambers Federation (WCF) developed a guide on Governance Principles for Business Associations and Chambers of Commerce. The guide was originally published in English and subsequently translated in to Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish and Dari languages.

To support and further simplify good governance principles in the country, CIPE Pakistan has produced an Urdu Translation of these principles (available here) for the benefit of business associations all across Pakistan that can be further guided with local language clarity.

Emad Sohail is a Senior Program Officer at CIPE Pakistan.

CIPE Pakistan Releases 2013 Activities Report


CIPE Pakistan has completed its 7th successful year. The 2013 Pakistan Activities Report details the progress of yet another instrumental year for policy reform driven by the private sector in the country.

Following are the highlights of the report:

Read More…

When Karachi Bleeds, Pakistan’s Economy Bleeds


The former capital of Pakistan, Karachi, has an ethnically and religiously diverse population of more than more than 22 million, making it the 8th largest city in the world and the number one city for business in the country. But the city has a serious problem with law and order.

Historically a small fishing village, Karachi has now turned into Pakistan’s biggest commerce and industrial center, home to the headquarters of all major banks public and private along with major foreign multinational corporations, the Karachi Stock Exchange (the largest stock exchange in Pakistan), international trade, an Expo Center, the largest port, the central bank, and major infrastructural and socio-economic projects, all of which have transformed this city into the well-developed financial capital of the country.

In February 2007, the World Bank identified Karachi as the most business-friendly city in Pakistan. Karachi accounts for the lion’s share of GDP and revenue, generating over 65 percent of the total national revenue and producing about 42 percent of value added to large scale manufacturing and 25 percent of the GDP of Pakistan. Pakistan’s informal sector (especially based in Karachi), comprised of thousands of small-scale entrepreneurs ranging from street vendors to restaurants to electricians, plumbers, and even doctors and lawyers, has also made great contributions to the economy which don’t always show up in the official numbers.

However, the economic engine of Pakistan is also one of its most dangerous cities. Curiosity Aroused rated Karachi on No. 8 on a list of the 10 Most Dangerous Cities in the world in 2013. According to the statistics released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 1,726 people were killed in the first six months of 2013. The business community, which is suffering a lot in Karachi, is very much concerned about deteriorating law and order situation and wants political and ethnic serenity in which Karachi’s business prevails. Karachi’s traders and businessmen are forced to pay extortion money to several extortionist groups in the city. For Karachi, 2013 will be a record year of extortion demands.

Read More…

Branding, Trademarks, and Intellectual Property Rights for Pakistan’s Women Entrepreneurs

“Developing countries fail to maximize their most valuable resource – their people – when they disenfranchise half of the population from political and economic life, losing much creative and intellectual capacity needed for democratic and economic development….”  Sandra E. Taylor  

Despite many barriers to women entrepreneurs in Pakistan, women run and operated businesses are hugely important in Pakistan’s economy — and with greater empowerment they could strengthen it even further.

Most Pakistani women entrepreneurs are SME and micro business owners working in sectors such as homemade textile, furniture, food items, fashion design, and jewelry where branding, trademarks, and intellectual property can make a big difference. To advocate the importance of intellectual property rights (IPRs) among women chambers and women entrepreneurs as an important part of business development, CIPE partnered with the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan to organize a workshop on this subject in Lahore for women entrepreneurs.

The topic of the workshop was “Developing a Link between Branding and Trademarks and on Understanding Utility of Industrial Design.” Nearly 150 active women entrepreneurs from various cities of Punjab and Baluchistan enthusiastically participated. At the outset of the event, CIPE Pakistan Country Director Moin Fudda spoke about CIPE programs and their successful initiatives especially in the area of policy advocacy for digital IPR, women’s entrepreneurship, and women’s empowerment.

Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi, Chairman of IPO Pakistan, and Sajjad Ahmed, Director General of IPO Pakistan, shared opening remarks for IPO Pakistan and Women Entrepreneurs and Justice Nasira Javed Iqbal delivered a keynote address on the importance of IPR. IPO Pakistan appreciated the efforts of CIPE in promoting intellectual property rights among women entrepreneurs of Punjab.

Attendees got a chance to interact with fellow entrepreneurs and exchanged success stories. They learned the concepts of IP rights, protection of IPR, trademarks, service marks, patents, branding, the impact of piracy, and business promotion. They also received guidance on resolving their IP issues during the consultation sessions, which were run through brand managers and lawyers. An instant achievement of this awareness workshop was that the bulk of the women entrepreneurs were very keen to register their IP rights and receive protection of their innovations.

Emad Sohail is Program Officer for CIPE Pakistan.

Capacity Building Efforts for Chamber Secretary Generals in Pakistan

Participants at the 5th All Pakistan Secretary General Conference (Photo: CIPE Staff)

Participants at the 5th All Pakistan Secretary General Conference (Photo: CIPE Staff)

CIPE Pakistan has conducted Secretary General Conferences for the past four years to help build capacity through the training and development of Secretary Generals belonging to different chambers and associations. Networking and learning opportunities help these chamber leaders contribute to the country’s economic development: most Secretary Generals said that there has been significant improvement in members’ services and development since they began attending the conferences.

Keeping this annual flagship event rolling, CIPE organized the 5th All Pakistan Secretary General Conference held on 23-24 May 2013 in Islamabad, which was attended by 30 Secretary Generals from various chambers and associations across Pakistan. The focus of this conference was aligning vision and mission, improving effectiveness of staff and board members, financial management, and legal compliance under the Pakistani law. Secretary Generals of various trade organizations discussed issues which they faced in running their chambers and associations.

Workshop trainers focused on the following key areas:

  • How to manage not for profit organization?
  • Strategic planning focusing on membership development and services, managing growth, income diversification and leadership development
  • Developing the Administrative, Accounting and HR manual and whistleblower policy
  • Code of Conduct for MC Members and staff
  • Legal issues and internal controls, frauds and budgets
  • Trade organizations Act & Rules 2013
  • Case studies and group discussions benefiting day to day working of business associations

Majid Shabbir, Secretary General of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, gave a presentation about the Trade Organizations Act & Rules, which can help chambers and associations meet necessary requirements under Trade Organizations Act and Rules 2013, a summary of which can be found here.

“What we learned from this workshop, if implemented in its spirit will definitely turn our chambers and associations effective organizations that serve their members professionally, the purpose for which CIPE is endeavoring since last many years in the capacity building of the trade organizations.”

Amanullah Suleman, Secretary General – Travel Agents Associations of Pakistan 

Impact is the most crucial outcome, which can only be measured after the workshop and of course must be practically implemented. Such an example was provided by Rizwan Ali, Secretary General of the Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers and Exporters Association:

“After going through the budget template which CIPE gave us, I had shared with my Accountant and found it very comprehensive, let me tell you the fact that by this date the accounts are being maintained in a formal way through making ledger and some entries in the registers manually,  but, this template has not only given a new trend but the procedure has also became simplified, as its format is not only covers the monthly budget, it has became easy to have a proper record of the income and expenditure throughout the year on this pattern.”

Sharing such practically applicable examples will help CIPE to further improve its capacity building initiatives. Therefore, this blog post can also serve as a platform for Secretary Generals (those who attended these conferences previously and those who attended for the first time) to keep us informed (in the comment box below) about lessons/key learning which they have practically implemented in their respective business associations.