Transforming the Landscape – Skilling up Karachi’s entrepreneurs

Peace Through Prosperity-Karachi-Entrepreneurs-2014Watching us from a distance, helping street vendors and cobblers make a better living seems pretty simple. Come close and you will realize it is not as simple as it may seem. Our intentions are pure and our method is transparent yet we were dealing with people from challenging backgrounds who have trust issues, and with good reason. We have previously run the same campaigns in KPK and received a very positive response from the participants, check that out at our Vimeo channel.

Before we ever got here we knew Karachi would be different, it’s a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures not only from within Pakistan but from across the region. Competition is fierce, time is money and money is fuel for life.

In order to ensure livelihood protection and poverty alleviation, it was important to grasp what is important for our beneficiaries and then share our ideas that can hopefully change their lives for the better. For this purpose, we started visiting various areas of Karachi and started interacting with the street vendors and cobblers. It took us days to make them understand we were friends not foe and they can trust us with their tribulations and problems. Once that trust was developed and they opened up to us, we were amazed to see the potential of these businesses and the ways they were losing out on the opportunities around them.

We will share with you our experience of visiting Qayumabad, to help paint a clear picture of the challenges and victories out field team face everyday.  Initially, the vendors refused to talk to us and fill our surveys. They were apprehensive because a couple of weeks back an NGO came into their area, got the surveys filled, took Rs200 from each, promising them a bright and better future never to returnback. We realized their hesitation and spent time with them, hoping to build some level of trust. After a while the trust developed and they started giving us information about their work and personal lives.

It did not take rocket science for us to realize that they are hardworking individuals toiling day in and day out to make ends meet. They earn reasonably well too, what they lack is the management skill that will help them further their small business into a proper established entity. By adopting a few simple steps they can fight poverty, get food security, create employment, better future for themselves, their family and communities and prevent radicalization.

The foremost reason for conducting these surveys was to enroll deserving street vendors and cobblers for Peace Through Prosperity’s mini-MBA programme that started from the 11th of June 2014. We wanted to get genuine cases who really want to improve upon their skills and make most of their micro-enterprises so that we have driven individuals on our project.

While we were in Qayumabad, we observed a fruit seller who had a couple of ‘guests’ at his pushcart. The fruit vendor served them tea and gossiped with them, preventing people from coming towards his cart. After the guests left, we asked him how much does this tea cost him and he replied around Rs150 per day. We suggested if he let go off his friends during work hours, he will get more business as a large part of women folk don’t come to him because they see some men sitting around, chatting and smoking away, which of course makes them uncomfortable.

Peace-TP-Bilal Colony Karachi_2014_05_.52.20Then we asked him if he owned the pushcart and he replied he rented it on Rs100 per day. We then asked him to save Rs100 from the money he spends on tea with his friends on a daily basis that would make up Rs3000 for the month. Since the cart is for Rs6000 or Rs7000, he will be able to buy one of his own with a couple of months. After which, he will be able to save the rental that makes another Rs3000 per month, totaling to Rs6000 of  average savings per month that can go towards improving his living standards  significantly.

Furthermore, he can even buy a couple of carts within a year and rent them to other fruit sellers. With an additional income of Rs100 per day, he will be able to send his children to school and brighten their future. He was quite amazed with this revelation and vowed he would no longer entertain his friends during work hours and follow these simple tools towards a more prosper future.

Our other observation included lack of cleanliness, for both self and workplace, no mannerism while dealing with the customers, wastage of time and unnecessary expenditure. We also met people who liked the idea of mini-MBA and were interested to know the tricks of the trade but were not willing to attend the classes.

A street vendor of over 60 years of age, filled in the survey form and showed interest but he requested that his teenage boys should be allowed to attend the classes as he was too old to grasp anything. He requested that he would like to take care of the business while his children should learn time and resource management to take it further after him. We, of course, accepted the request.

We even met kids of 13 years or 14 years old who are either the sole bread winners for their families, or jointly running the household with a parent and/or siblings. We really appreciated such young minds to come join us. They are at a very impressionable age and they will learn these things way better and faster than their older peers. The earlier they learn to secure their livelihood, the better it will be for their future.

It took our sweat  tenacity and hard work but people from different neighborhoods understood our point of view and heard us out. Places like Chakra Goth and Bilal Colony were very supportive too. Usually, outsiders are not really welcomed into these areas and are looked down with skepticism but we went there and met the right people who were glad to know that we doing some work for the micro-entrepreneurs. Usually, no one really bothers about them so it was a unique and positive step towards betterment for their area as well. With their help, a lot of people got interested in filling our survey forms and getting involved in our mini-MBA programme.

Peace-TP-Bilal Colony Karachi_2014_05_.55.39

Field research in Bilal Colony, Karachi

By no means have we confined ourselves to some areas. Our journey has just begun. We have currently engaged with micro-entrepreneurs in Qayumabad, Korangi 2, Bangali Para, Bilal Colony, Sultanabad, Hijrat Colony and Chakra Goth. We have completed a survey of 366 micro-entrepreneurs and selected around 266 individuals for our mini-MBA programme.  Once we gauge the interest, the participation and the outcome of our first venture in the 3rd most populous city in the world we will be able to extend our services and reach out to a wider audience.

For staying connected and keeping pulse on our latest updates, you can like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our Vimeo channel. Peace Through Prosperity is striving to change the face of the working class in Pakistan and you can help us reach out to more people by helping us through your contributions; simply go to our Website for donation details. We have taken the first step but we need your help to continue our journey… for a better prosperous and tolerant society. And remember if a society improves, everyone is better off!


Peace building through micro-entrepreneurship development – this is what we do

We have been fairly quiet of late, our silence has only been digital, offline since the beginning of 2014 we have been busy putting in place and kicking off our biggest project to date. That is to roll out surveys and our Mini-MBA programme in the Rock’s third most populous city; Karachi. Where we are currently closing in on our objective of 400 surveys and then taking 275 individual micro-entrepreneurs / entrepreneurs of circumstances through our Mini-MBA and data lead consulting, coaching and evaluation programme.

This post is short, with the sole aim of re-introducing what we do for the many in Karachi and beyond who are either first time visitors or have a renewed interest in our work. Pictures paint…. you know how it goes so here goes it:

Preventing radicalization poverty alleviation

Peace Through Prosperity’s methodology, process of engagement, in-class and on-site coaching works. We need YOUR help to scale and extend this program to many more street based Entrepreneurs of Circumstance and other street based vocations in conflict affected regions across the Rock.

To help us help entrepreneurs of circumstance please visit our website or get in touch with us to donate via a bank transfer, or get in touch to support us in kind with your time and talent.


Haripur – Changed Livelihoods and Lives

Our Haripur as expected has yielded awesome results, despite our own self belief it surpassed our own expectations too!

Though a detailed report is being compiled, given our limited resources it is taking us some time compiling the report, moreso since we are uber busy planning on kicking off in Karachi (Sindh) at the end of January 2014 and in Muzzafargarh (Punjab) shortly thereafter.

In the meantime however we want to share the results and some of the interviews with everyone, from our supporters, friends, ambassadors to strangers – the results are a great pick me up for anyone across the third rock!

street based entrepreneurs following the MBA, Business Growth Program, Entrepreneurship development program run by Peace Through Prosperity

Having taken 70 street based entrepreneurs / cobblers through a 1 week MBA program followed by 12 weeks of data informed coaching and consulting we have the following summary metrics to share.

Of the 70 entrepreneurs of circumstance engaged 63 engaged and embraced the the program whilst 7 did not, this is inline with the drop out rate from our previous cohorts.

Revenue Growth:

Growth in Revenue for street based entrepreneurs following the MBA, Business Growth Program, Entrepreneurship development program run by Peace Through Prosperity

The average revenue growth across the 63 entrepreneurs of circumstances is 51%. With 48% of the 63 entrepreneurs achieving greater than 50% increase in revenue. There are some outliers; 6 entrepreneurs of circumstance of the 63 achieved greater than 100% growth in revenue whilst only 1 achieved less than 10% growth (Mir Dad at 4%).


Profitability Growth:

Growth in Profitability for street based entrepreneurs following the MBA, Business Growth Program, Entrepreneurship development program run by Peace Through Prosperity

The average growth in profitability across the 63 entrepreneurs of circumstances is 83%. With 65% of the 63 entrepreneurs achieving greater than 50% increase in profitability. 20 of the 63 entrepreneurs of circumstance achieved greater than 100% growth in revenue and 3 of the them managed greater than 200% growth in the 3 month period.

Those of you who are strangers to Peace Through prosperity’s MBA program, think of it as an entrepreneurship development program or business growth programs of sorts.

For now we would like to leave you with Muhammad Saeed’s post MBA interview and though the translation does not do him justice his renewed optimism transcends linguistic barriers.

Mohammad saeed – Post MBA Feedback from Peace Through Prosperity on Vimeo.

In Haripur we had a direct positive impact on 63 micro-entrepreneurs, 315 of their immediate family members and many more in the extended family and their local community. We are editing and uploading videos as best we can with our limited resources please visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to remain updated on progress.

Peace Through Prosperity’s methodology, process of engagement, in-class and on-site coaching works. We need YOUR help to raise funds to extend this program to many more street based Entrepreneurs of Circumstance and other street based vocations in Pakistan and beyond.

To help us help the entrepreneur of circumstance please visit our website or get in touch with us to donate via a bank transfer.


Haripur (KPK) – progress report

hp_c2_d5_002We have kept you updated on progress as we rolled out the two MBA cohorts in Haripur in September, now its time to reflect and share some of the experiences we have had, lessons we have learned and innovations we are introducing to better the lives of the entrepreneurs of circumstance we are engaged with in Haripur.

Initially we budgeted for 50 entrepreneurs of circumstance (EoC) for our MBA program for street cobblers in Haripur but team PTP working closely with local mobilizers managed to engage and mobilise a total of 70 street cobblers that were divided into two groups: 40 in cohort 1 and 30 in cohort 2.

Our local mobilizers deserve more than a mention! Ghulam Rabani and Anees Lodhi did a fantastic job mobilizing, then facilitating in the delivery of the week long MBA program  and have been retained to facilitate team PTP in coaching, mentoring, monitoring and evaluation phase following the MBA.

PTP-Cohort-1-group photoDay 1 for both the cohorts had a similar start, the participants mobilized were on-boarded to address their curiosity, fears and trepidations which is a natural reaction to the unknown. All of which were allayed by a comprehensive introduction of Peace Through Prosperity’s objectives and the MBA tool for achieving them.  The 2nd cohort was a little less apprehensive as the news and progress of the 1st cohort had travelled far and wide in the district of Haripur. Impact of the first day discussion was quite evident on the second day for both the cohorts, participant numbers for both the cohorts increased on the second day. Additionally day 2 is when we jump into the deep end with the MBA curriculum.

Day 3 and 4 are from experience days of realisation for the participants, having put the tools taught on day 2 into practice participants realise that things can indeed change for the better and with the right tools they can grow their businesses beyond their expectations and build a better future for themselves and their family.

PTP-Training MINIMBA-DAY-5-002As expected on day 4 participants expressed their views regarding the training and all the participants found their voices, group discussions centred around future prospects  and strategies for growth. This change in attitudes towards their enterprise, their future, the possibility of growth and a better future for them and their families is always an uplifting moment for both the participants and team PTP.

Ptp-TrainingMINIMBA-day-5-007On day 5, the last day of the MBA program we distributed stools for the street cobblers and their clients, supplies and tools among all the participants at a graduation ceremony. We have learned that a closure to the MBA program along with something to perk up their spirits further is a must, and the SWAG we had went down very well with the participants.

Lastly we had seen entrepreneurs of circumstance from our previous cohorts in Islamabad and Rawalpindi suffer at the hands of extortionate civil servants as well as been left high and dry by the courts ruling in favour of property developers, declaring their shacks on pavements as illegal encroachments. Unfortunately we were unable to help and assist the street cobblers as much as we’d like to in Islamabad and Rawalpindi but in Haripur we are not going to allow that sort of abuse of the marginalised entrepreneurs of circumstance to be made that easy.

Having already introduced the participants to the power of the collective via collective buying of supplies to get a better price from their wholesalers, we took this a step further by suggesting and stepping up to facilitate the creation of a street cobblers union in the district of Haripur.

Our participants understood and appreciated that it is essential to safeguard their social, economical and legal rights and the only way to do so against the odds is via collective voice.

We are in process of working with the participants in drafting the requisite paper work to register the union, educating them on selection, elections and the workings of a labour union and to get those street cobblers involved who have not been engaged in our MBA program.

At the moment we are continuing with the one to one coaching, monitoring and evaluation in Haripur alongside establishing a street cobblers union. We shall keep you posted on our progress and that of the individual street cobblers we are there to help and assist to secure a better future for themselves and their family.

Peace Through Prosperity’s methodology, process of engagement, in-class and on-site coaching works. We need YOUR help to raise funds to extend this program to many more street cobblers and other street based vocations in Pakistan and beyond.

To help us help the entrepreneur of circumstance please visit our website or get in touch with us to donate via a bank transfer.