Young Pakistani entrepreneurs embrace failure on the road to success

Pakistan's young enterpreneurs know that they must embrace failure in order to turn Swat Valleys into Silicon Valleys. (Image: Dimitar Krstevski via Flickr)

While universities in Pakistan are producing thousands of IT and business graduates each year, and most IT companies are run by entrepreneurs, the tech and business savvy Pakistani students generally don’t become entrepreneurs.

What’s preventing them from starting up their own ventures? CIPE and Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and IT Enabled Services (P@SHA) conducted dialogues with young graduates in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad to explore what entry barriers they face in the IT sector.

Students voiced that the key challenges they encounter are:

  • Lack of inspirations.  Success stories produce inspirations. Yet, because successful entrepreneurs and small business stories are often overlooked in Pakistan, the youth don’t get the motivation that they could make it as entrepreneurs too.
  • Lack of awareness and resources. It’s not so much that the Pakistani youth don’t want to become entrepreneurs, but they’re just not aware about such opportunities. Educational institutions don’t encourage youth to consider entrepreneurship as a career, nor do universities have incubation facilities for young graduates to experiment their business ideas. Moreover, resources needed to start up formalized businesses are not easily accessible—information such as taxation codes and regulatory rules are not simply provided from one government bureau.
  • Lack of secure financial platform. Ever since PayPal withdrew its services from Pakistan, e-commerce and IT businesses have had trouble participating in international markets.  The lack of payment gateway has significantly prevented young entrepreneurs from expanding their businesses locally, regionally, and globally.

Despite such obstacles, Pakistani youth are optimistic about their futures in this field. Most participants expressed they’re “prepared to leave a well-paid job for the sake of an entrepreneurship journey” and that they are mentally ready “to work for themselves with absolutely no source of funding.”

When asked if they fear of failing as entrepreneurs – whether that means unsuccessfully launching products, or unable to meet family expectations, etc. – nearly everyone said no and concluded that failure is part of the road to success. In the coming months, CIPE and P@SHA will continue to tackle these challenges to create more opportunities for youth to engage in private enterprise in Pakistan, especially dealing with barriers that currently prevent aspiring entrepreneurs to be part of the global financial system.