Meeting with the entrepreneurs of circumstances, helping them with ways to improve their business, motivating them to empower their lives by making conscious decisions about their lives and giving them opportunities for a better future; this all is what Peace Through Prosperity is working for. Starting off with projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then Punjab, the team finally shifted gears towards Karachi, the business hub of the country. Amongst the hustle bustle of the big city, we usually tend to forget the people we deal with day in and day out – the street vendors, cobblers and barbers etc. And to help these people get a better life, Peace Through Prosperity has channelized all their energies to build up a business model for the micro entrepreneurs in the form of their contribution towards poverty alleviation.
You can watch how Peace Through Prosperity has changed lives of micro entrepreneurs in KPK and Punjab in Vimeo
How does it all work? Well, mobilizing these entrepreneurs is not an easy task and needs lot of courage and patience while dealing with them. Taking them out of their comfort zones and bringing them into a classroom has always been a challenge. But, thankfully, when they attend two days of our classes, they anxiously wait for the next session and show enthusiasm for the project. After all, they get to learn about business model that is easy to adopt and shows positive results on a daily basis.
A couple of months ago, Peace Through Prosperity went into the areas of Sultanabad, Hijrat Colony, Koranigi, Qayumabad, Bilal Colony etc to get their survey forms filled and select people for their mini-MBA program. After getting 400 surveys filled out, they selected around 275 micro entrepreneurs for teaching the tricks of the trade. During the last month’s time, we have successfully conducted tutorials at the above mentioned areas; places where agents of change hardly get a chance to showcase their potential. It was with the help of influential people in each area that we were able to reach out to our potential students and made them realize that it is for their own good.
During our mini-MBA program in Sultanabad, a 19 year old fruit seller Shahzeb made us extremely proud and overwhelmed us with his dedication. On the first day of our session, Shahzeb’s father barged into the class and started beating up his son for attending the mini-MBA program. He even threatened us of severe results if we did not wrap up our program and leave the area. We, however, took stand and stayed back since there were others interested in learning ways to combat poverty while Shahzeb had to leave due to the constant abuse of his father. The very next day Shahzeb returned to the class and announced that he wants to sit for the mini-MBA program to polish his business skills and has not informed his father about his allegiance with Peace Through Prosperity. Then onwards, he completed the whole 5-day program and learnt the most out of the whole batch; his post program assessment showed promise.
Our on-site training, in-class teachings and aid in the form of record keeping and management helped the micro entrepreneurs make more profit within a short span of time. At the end of the mini-MBA, we provided everyone with a register and taught them to note down the amount they spent on purchasing the items and the amount they made by selling them off. For instance, if you have purchased fruits for Rs20,000 then you should note down your sale of even Rs20. At the end of the day, separate the Rs20,000 that was your expenditure and then calculate the profit you made. The same goes for barbers and cobblers etc.
Besides this, the vendors were also encouraged to quit smoking and paan/gutka. They were also asked to stop entertaining guests at their pushcarts by serving them tea as it would cost them Rs150/day on an average. Instead of spending Rs150/day on tea for guests, they should save at least Rs100/day. For the ones who smoked or were hooked to betel leaves should save that money as it is not even good for their health.
By adopting these simple few steps, the fruit sellers and samosa vendors started saving Rs100/day. After 4 days of the session, we asked how much they saved and they replied Rs400 that could make Rs3000 per month, totaling upto Rs36,000/year. This way they would not have to rely on anyone else. This way they will also be able to purchase their own pushcarts after a while for which they have to pay in between Rs50/day to Rs100/day on an average.
At the end of the mini-MBA program, we provide them with a steel stool, a bottle of water spray to keeps their fruits and vegetables fresh, a certificate, a register to note down all day’s activities and an envelope of Rs1250 for taking out time for these classes. Along with this, we also prepare a banner for their pushcart that has their name, occupation, mobile number and even their picture so that people can recognize and address them by their name. Later on, the mobile number can be used for home deliveries as the fruit/vegetable seller can facilitate his customers by delivering their goods at home. This will help his business too as a lot of people will be more comfortable with getting goods at their doorstep.
From a broader perspective, everything looks so simple and doable but after interacting with these people fighting against poverty for survival, we realized they need to be taught even the basics of life. It’s not that they don’t earn enough to run their house; it’s just that they cannot manage their earnings and end up being destitute at the end of the month. They do not have food security and livelihood protection techniques. Now, a lot of these entrepreneurs of circumstances are hopeful about their future; about their children’s future. They have vowed to send their children to schools with the money they save at the end of the month so that their children can get education and adopt a better profession as they grow older. They don’t want their children to have the same fate as they did and are determined to work harder to make their children’s lives better.
Who ever thought that the street vendors, cobblers and barbers we interact on a daily basis have aspirations of their own and would want a better living for their family. With Peace Through Prosperity, at least the process has begun. To stay connected with the activities of the organization follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also be a part of this society development process by logging onto our Website.
After all, we will have to prevent radicalization and build a better nation… together!