The National Incubation Center (NIC) Lahore hosted a graduation ceremony for 62 young entrepreneurs from disadvantaged urban areas who were trained under the third round of the ‘Urban Youth Project.’ Shahid Hussain, CEO of Service Sales Corporation (Pvt.) Ltd was the keynote speaker for the evening.
The Urban Youth Project was launched in 2016 in partnership with the British Asian Trust and the Citi Foundation under Citi’s ‘Pathways to Progress’ initiative, to prepare urban youth to thrive in today’s economy. The objective of the programme is to reduce youth unemployment and increase sustainable economic development through entrepreneurship and leadership training. To date, nearly 200 micro entrepreneurs have been trained under this project and have gone on create 180 new jobs for others.
The project is based on the firm belief that those who possess a skill should be supported to achieve their potential, regardless of their background. Beneficiaries have included youth helping run small family businesses, those trained at vocational institutes run by Technical Education & Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA), and students running side businesses to supplement their family income, amongst others.Promoting female entrepreneurship is also a key objective of the project, and 50% of the trainees in the last cohort in Lahore were women microentrepreneurs. Apart from Lahore, NICLahore has delivered this training in Quetta and Karachi in partnership with local business school in order to build local capacity to build and promote the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Shahid Hussain commented, “It is heartening to see so many young people who are at different stages in their educational careers but have an entrepreneurial spirit and have sought incubation at a place like LUMS for support.” He talked about hisown entrepreneurial journey and encouraged the graduates to persevere even in the face of failure, which was part of the entrepreneurial journey.
Adeel Shahid, Head of Marketing & Public Affairs, Citibank N.A. Pakistan, commenting on how far the programme had come since it first started, said, “Along with encouraging youth to dream big, we must also equip them with the tools and skillsetneeded to achieve their goals. The stories shared by the microentrepreneurs today prove that Citibank and its partners, the British Asian Trust and NIC Lahore, have been successful in establishing a roadmap for young entrepreneurs to realise their dreams.”
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust, also congratulated the graduates via a video message. The programme was co-developed and managed by the British Asian Trust, a UK diaspora-led organisation working to unlock and maximise the potential of people in South Asia.