Enterprise Challenge Pakistan hosted 143 student teams to empower Pakistan's entrepreneurial ecosystem this year
Of late, Pakistan's entrepreneurial ecosystem has been earnestly working towards inducting and nurturing young talent, empowering them to create employment options instead of seeking them, while becoming active drivers of impact and development in society.
Enterprise Challenge Pakistan (ECP) is an initiative of Prince's Trust International; the Challenge is a national entrepreneurial initiative launched by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, held in Pakistan annually since 2016 with the support of SEED Ventures.
The programme aims to inspire and instill entrepreneurial and business acumen amongst young students between the ages of 14 and 18 years in Pakistan.
Mariyam Toor, Programme Manager Enterprise Challenge Pakistan, adds, "In a country where opportunities for young people to grow and learn are often limited, programmes like ECP enable them to become impact-driven and innovative leaders of tomorrow. By introducing them to the concept of SDGs at a young age, we are ensuring that our society is filled with versatile and empathetic individuals who see potential in solving complex problems in society through enterprise ideas."
This year, Enterprise Challenge Pakistan included a six-hour format, spread out over 2-3 weeks by teachers and mentors, during which students:
Watched an online curriculum on entrepreneurship developed by SEED,
Played an exciting business simulation game with the help of their teachers,
Developed and pitched social enterprise ideas with the help of business industry experts.
In 2022, ECP received 2500+ applications from which 143 teams were created with a total of 715 students, 48% boys and 52% girls participated in the programme.
The impact of ECP
Integrating the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the curriculum for the programme perpetuates the importance of creating a positive social impact.
The programme itself targets Quality education (SDG 4), Gender equality (SDG 5), Responsible consumption & production, as well as Decent work & economic growth (SDG 8). 94% of the participants agreed that they can now explain the field of social entrepreneurship to friends and family.
In the words of one of the student participants, “ECP is a very good initiative to help young people understand social issues around them, find solutions to them and run a business effectively.”
Not only did the programme enhance participants' knowledge and understanding of SDGs, but it also increased their soft skills. The participants identified top-cited skills that they developed through the programme, such as confidence, teamwork, problem-solving, decision making and creative thinking.
ECP enterprise ideas
The top enterprise ideas were shortlisted based on the following four criteria:
a) Innovativeness b) Presentation c) Impact d) Sustainability
As a result of the immense focus on SDGs for this year's challenge, in teams of five, the participants developed social enterprise ideas targeting multiple SDGs.
These ideas included diverse topics.
Some of these include, a) connecting counselors to students from rural areas who may have limited access to academic counselors, b) creating an online platform for entrepreneurial mentorship for young females, c) bridging the gap between trained entrepreneurs with investors, and d) building a mobile app for fitness and wellbeing, including exclusive diet plans and recipes.
Winners and runners up ideas
Team Coco Katora from St. Joseph's Convent School won the challenge with their idea to promote sustainable production by using reusable coconut shells in place of eating utensils such as plates/glasses, aiming for sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG 13).
Team Fishure from Hayat School & Colleges came in second with their idea to implement environment-friendly fish farming techniques in Pakistan through biofloc fish farming; the idea targeted sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12), life below water (SDG 14) & climate action (SDG 13).
Along with the winning and runners up teams, a total of eight national finalists, received seed funding for their business ideas.
Since Pakistan is ranked fifth on the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change by The Global Climate Risk Index, the ideas presented as part of ECP this year primarily focused on SDG 13 (climate action), which is a positive step in the right direction from which Pakistan can greatly benefit.
Students who participated in the challenge this year mentioned that ECP is one platform that helped shape their perspectives, enabling them to understand why profits alone do not drive success for businesses. The Challenge also helped students understand two of the most essential elements of starting a successful enterprise: the process of idea creation and problem identification.
This content is produced in paid partnership with Enterprise Challenge Pakistan (ECP) and is not associated with or necessarily reflective of the views of Dawn.com or its editorial staff.