Organization: Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Name of the Practice/Program: Policy Advocacy for Youth Entrepreneurship
Start date: 2007
1. What is the problem addressed by this practice?
Pakistan is a country of burgeoning young people as almost 60 percent of our population is below 30 years of age. It is not possible for the government to provide jobs to this huge mass of youth in the public sector as unemployment in the country continues to rise.
2. Describe the practice.
ICCI is the first Chamber of Commerce in Pakistan that took initiatives for Youth Development and promotion of Entrepreneurship. A Young Entrepreneurs Forum was created to motivate youth towards entrepreneurship so that youngsters could enter the mainstream business world, embark on an entrepreneurial career, and contribute positively to developing the national economy. To achieve this purpose, ICCI held youth forums, Conferences, roundtables, mentorship training programs, in which a large number of college and university students, policymakers, and academicians participated and deliberated on many issues with particular focus on entrepreneurship development. Draft National Youth Policy was also discussed in detail with focus on entrepreneurship, microfinance, skill development and internship. They came up with many ideas and suggestions for providing them the opportunities to enter the entrepreneurial world and to let them play their role in nation building. Recommendations were also tabled to the relevant public forums for consideration and positive outcome.
Strong linkages have been developed with important local universities and colleges to promote entrepreneurship. Our Chamber is also creating links with international youth groups and forums through youth exchange programs. We are sure this strong networking will provide youth excellent opportunities for sharing innovative ideas and learning best practices in for entrepreneurship development. Cultural exchange programs are also undertaken to understand culture and develop people to people contact.
3. Explain why and how your organization developed this practice. Describe the connection to democracy.
In the Chamber’s activities and programs, youth were not playing an active role and university students as well as prospective business starters were looking for a platform to get guidance for starting entrepreneurial careers. Through the support of CIPE, youth was encouraged to come forward and share their views about the hurdles of entering the entrepreneurial world and ideas for entrepreneurship development. As a result, youngsters started taking interest in the Chamber’s activities and every year they contest in ICCI’s annual elections. Now in almost every Executive Committee, they have 25-30 % representation, where they express their views on important issues for the Chamber’s development. Apart from this, Young Entrepreneurs Forum, with a participation of about 60 members, is involved in carrying out many new initiatives for entrepreneurship development.
4. Describe the steps or tips for implementing the practice.
Following steps were followed to start and continue this initiative:
- In 2007, a project was submitted to CIPE for the support of the youth initiative, as we felt that youth should be engaged in the productive activities through entrepreneurship.
- A Youth Committee was formed and given the responsibility of creating linkages with universities and colleges, relevant public institutions, and policymakers to advocate for youth issues.
- Youth forums, conferences, focus group meetings and roundtables were organized to obtain input and recommendations from youth on the Draft of National Youth policy. Recommendations on entrepreneurship, microfinance, skill development and internship were submitted to the Government.
- Young business professionals visiting important public and private universities started giving lectures to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship in youth.
- Youth exchange programs were started inviting students from various universities.
- Business plan competitions are organized.
- Youth was given representation in the Executive Committee/Board.
- Youth representatives were given the opportunity to participate in international forums including World Congress.
- Youth delegations visited many countries to meet youth groups and to undertake business ventures
- With the support of CIPE, an Entrepreneurship Development Center has been established in the Chambers.
- Training and mentorship programs are organized for mentorship.
5. Describe actual results of the practice and useful applications. Include evidence of effectiveness.
- ICCI Youth Conference developed various recommendations, which were also incorporated in the National Youth Policy of the Government of Pakistan.
- Ministry of Youth Affairs has conferred Jinnah Youth Award and cash prize to ICCI on International Youth Day for promoting entrepreneurship culture among youth and taking effective initiatives for youth development.
- Ensured significant representation of youth in the Executive Committee/Board, that comes through a democratic election process.
- Formation of Young Entrepreneurs Forum and its membership is growing every year.
- Linkage with the youth groups of local Chambers in the country has been created, resulting in visible participation of youth in business associations’ activities and exchange.
- Establishment of Entrepreneurship Development Center and increased interaction with the universities, as groups of university students regularly visit the Chamber to receive guidance on starting a business venture and the business process.
- Through the Export Display Center, which shall be completed within a year, Incubation Centers shall be established to develop new entrepreneurs.
- Businessmen provide internships to university students to let them experience the entrepreneurial culture.
- Businessmen are now being encouraged to provide financial handholding for good business projects that are selected in business plan competitions.
- Currently ICCI is undertaking a survey to understand the perception of businessmen regarding corruption.
6. Describe lessons from your experience, such as circumstances in which the practice can work, challenges faced, and success factors.
- Government needs to pay attention to entrepreneurship development.
- More entrepreneurship promotion programs must be initiated with regards to private-public partnerships.
- Positive policy changes must be brought in for the productive role of youth for their own sustainability and economic development of the country.
- Stronger networking must be created among business associations for advocacy of entrepreneurship promotion, particularly in youth.
- Business associations should develop strong ties with universities to convey the need for introducing new subjects on entrepreneurship.
- A liberal financial support program must be offered by the Government to promote entrepreneurship culture.
- Business Incubation Centers must be established across the country to initiate a wave of entrepreneurship.
- ICCI learned useful lessons from Youth Development initiatives and gained very encouraging results from this practice. In March 2012, The Young Entrepreneurs Forum (YEF) of ICCI organized a National Entrepreneurship Conference at Convention Centre, Islamabad under the theme “Inspiring a New Wave of Entrepreneurs” in partnership with USAID, US Embassy, Juniors Chamber International (JCI) and CIPE.
- YEF also conducted an online survey in collaboration with COMSATS University to explore the views of youth about entrepreneurship and the challenges they face in coming into the business world. Most of the participants were in favor of starting their own business however lack of financing and lack of proper guidance were the main hurdles for them in materializing their business ideas.