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Pakistan’s young entrepreneurs tap social media to grow business

Helps develop businesses and attract foreign investment in Pakistan

Gulf News

Lahore: In the age of the internet, Pakistan’s young entrepreneurs have come up with their own innovative ideas to develop business and attract foreign investment.

The world has never before seen communication between individuals and communities evolve at such rapid speed.

The current era can rightly be called the era of fast communication.

And Pakistan’s young generation is very much part of this revolution.

Many are developing their skills to derive maximum benefit from the new scenario.

The government is encouraging such endeavours.

Dr Umar Saif, Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Vice-Chancellor of International Technology University (ITU) told said the board has started an entrepreneurial revolution project, with incubators and accelerators being set up across Pakistan.

The programme intends to nurture job creators with the help of the academia and industry.

Saif said there is a huge untapped potential which is being addressed by initiatives like Plan9, PlanX and MIT Enterprise Forum Pakistan.

“Our projects strive to develop tech startups into multi-million dollar companies and act as a catalyst for global stakeholders to take a keen interest in the Pakistani ecosystem, he said.

CampusFeed is a mobile application that creates specialised social networks for campuses.

The CEO of CampusFeed, Qasim Salam, said when students open the app, the posts that they see will be from their campuses only.

“This way students can discuss courses, instructors and pretty much anything happening on campus,” he said.

He termed his so far journey as technological hick-ups and roller costar. Qasim is a LUMS graduate.

He said CampusFeed app had improved over time.

“First of all 400 people joined and use the app. After we launched it formally the figure jumped to 600 and now we got thousands of users,” Qasim said.

“The idea went viral. The results and appreciation was tremendous. Now nine different university campuses two in Karachi and seven in Lahore are using the mobile app of CampusFeed,” he said.

Qasim said we keep on winning the startups competitions and the momentum was continued in Lahore, Karachi and Istanbul competitions.

“Sometimes we received App User Engagement better than Facebook. That’s the reason I have been invited to Silicon Valley, US and travelling this week to meet our foreign investors,” he said.

“Usually social networking websites ideas do not get revenue generations in two or three years of its launch. We are focusing on the customer life and the incumbent customer acquisition cost is $25 (Dh91) which means we are going to get huge amount of profit.

“The day and night efforts brings hope. We have worked with brands like Coca Cola and did advertisements for more than 100 Pakistani companies,” he said.

Qasim thinks it is big change in the field of technology in Pakistan. Only three to four Pakistani companies have made it to Silicon Valley.

“PITB project Plane9 helped me to make foreign links and networks. Next five years would be bridging total change as population relay on smart phone and even new technologies are pouring in.

“Ours Startup generation would be the first to inspire upcoming startups generations in Pakistan,” he said.

Ammar Raheel is Chief Executive Officer of ForiEdu.com, an online and home tutoring website.

He said he was selected winner in a startup competition at Lahore University of Management Sciences. “Many graduates of LUMS start pouring in and joined our team and we built a website providing tutors to the parents who need coaching for their children,” he said.

Our startup used social media websites Facebook, Twitter, and email services to reach to our potential customers. “Our startup provides and contributes in inception of part time job. We have built a pool of 550 tutors who earn Rs15,000 to Rs45,000 per month ($150 to $450),” Ammar explained.

“We have allocated five percent quota for underprivileged students,” he revealed.

ForiEdcu.com is also going to start crash courses services ranging from Rs5000 ($50) to Rs10,000 (100). “For courses we hire tutors who are experts in their field and it ranges from PHD to National College of Arts graduates,” Ammar said.

Director MITEF PlanX Hafsa Shorish said youth has a godly quality of creation, of flow, of beauty, of rebellion, of insanity. “It nurtures the seed of curiosity blossoming into new possibilities, the joy of discovering the unknown, the ecstasy of doing it better.

“At Plan X, we intend to tap a little bit of that creative insanity, that godhood, and create the community of entrepreneurial poets, the rebellion artists, the mutants and hope to find the Fords, the Edisons and the Jobs of Pakistan.”

Rija Awais is a young entrepreneur who last year in May started her home-made food supply venture. She is studying communication at Punjab University and and want to join electronic media or civil service after completing her studies. “Media studies and cooking are certainly not related but I am not going to suppress my talent.

“My first school was my own kitchen, and the first (and the last) inspiration was my mother,” Rija said.

Homemade food industry has marked its footprints in Lahore in recent years. Rija’s business is called Zesty Bites. She uses facebook and her friends buzz to get her orders. Her signature foods are pasta, burgers, pizza, all kinds of cakes and sandwiches.

“I make all types of cake but Wafers and Caramel are considered to be my best,” she proudly says.

“My business would not have been a success without the support of her family. I am not earning millions but working from home I am doing a lot better than many outlets in city considering I also have to give time to my studies,” Rija said. She said she is in the process of getting Zesty Bites registered in her name so that someone else may not try to benefit from her success.

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