The Urban Youth Program is a joint initiative by Citibank Pakistan and British Asian Trust to empower young entrepreneurs in Pakistan to develop and grow new businesses. They recently celebrated the programs first successful year by hosting a panel discussion at the British Deputy High Commission.
British Asian Trust is an organization from UK that is working to unlock and maximize the potential of people in South Asia through local, high-impact and innovative initiatives in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The program was initially implemented by the LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship and was developed to unlock economic opportunities and create jobs for young people from low income backgrounds. So far through the program they have managed to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of over 60 young people, supported them with training, mentoring and investment to start up and grow a profitable business, the program has provided a model that can be scaled and replicated.
At the event leaders from across the business, government and development sectors, as well as young entrepreneur graduates from the program, took part in the discussion on the importance of nurturing youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion for Pakistan’s future growth and prosperity.
Speaking at the panel discussion Nadeem Lodhi, MD & CCO, Citibank N A, Pakistan said
“As a Pakistani, I must admit it is alarming to learn that this young and able workforce is not being given their chance to shine. With one in three working people in Pakistan aged between 15 and 24, we cannot ignore the need nor shy away from providing support. We must lend a hand in breaking the cycle of poverty and the most effective way of doing this is to ensure access to quality training, which in turn allows them to earn and to build their own future.”
Pathways to Progress, this year saw global expansion with a $100million commitment from the Citi Foundation to reach 500,000 young people with entrepreneurship and employability training before 2020. The aim of the program is to reduce youth unemployment and increase sustainable economic development through entrepreneurship and leadership training.
Speaking on the occasion Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust said
“We believe that there is terrific untapped potential in the young people of Pakistan. With the right support and training, young people can thrive in their careers and add considerably to their country’s prosperity.”