Dare to Dream Entrepreneurship Conference:
The 5th Entrepreneurship Conference, 2015 Dare to Dream was held on Wednesday 9th September, 2015 at Marriot Hotel Karachi. It was a full day event starting from 09:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. To organize this Conference our MC had formed a separate Conference Organizing Committee of our Past President Mr. Muhammad Hanif Jakhura as its Convener, our Past Presidents Mr. Muhammad Hanif Janoo, Mr. Muhammad Ashraf Bawany, Mr. M. Rafiq Rangoonwala, our President Mr. Abdul Aziz Tayabani, our Past Hon. Secretary General Mr. Muhammad Junaid Shekha and our Treasurer Mr. Abdul Basit Kothari as its members.
Celebrating three decades of a very vibrant existence, our Forum brought together an impressive array of leading lights from the worlds of trade, commerce and industry to dwell upon the phenomenon that is entrepreneurship, in its search for peace, progress and prosperity for Pakistan.
The heavyweights on board comprised Mr. M. Ali Tabba (CEO, Lucky Cement Limited), Mr. Arif Habib (CEO, Arif Habib Corporation), and Mr. Khalid Awan (Founder & Chairman TCS Holdings Pvt Limited), with Mr. Moin M. Fudda (Country Director, Center for International Private Enterprise), Mr. Muhammad Hanif Janoo (Chairman Tea Association of Pakistan) and Mr. M. Rafiq Rangoonwala (COO, Burger King Pakistan) providing the stimulus for thought provoking discussions. The Conference celebrated Dr. Abdul Bari Khan and his social enterprise the Indus Hospital built on ‘Pukhta Yaqeen’ (firm belief).
Conference proceedings began with the Opening Remarks by the Convener of the conference, Mr. Muhammad Hanif Jakhura followed by a Welcome Address by the President of our Forum Mr. Abdul Aziz Tayabani who also gave an introduction of MPF that now has a membership of over 1,000 professionals of various disciplines.
Mr. Khalid Awan, who is a leading example of Pakistan entrepreneurship, delivered the keynote address. His presence at the conference was both a tribute to what he has accomplished, as well as testimony to the expanding horizons of the Memon Community that has a long tradition of entrepreneurship across the globe.
“Memons great example of industriousness, risk taking and philanthropy” – Khalid Awan
Khalid Awan termed his presence at the conference as a truly inspiring and humbling experience. “The most important pillars of the nation are those who create wealth, and the Memon Community is a leading such pillar, a great example of industriousness, risk taking and philanthropy,” he said. Terming himself a first generation businessman, Khalid Awan said that it was in the sharing of our stories that we enrich ourselves, with the real magic not in the profits but in the people who make success possible. “It is the possibility of a single dream coming true that makes life worthwhile.”
Mr. Awan’s advice was to shape a culture of enterprise and integrity and everything else will
follow. “Describe your vision and people will share it.” He sounded a note of warning, however. “There will always be skeptics. First people will ignore you; if you persist they will
ridicule you; you keep at it and then they will fight with you. That’s when you know you have arrived.”
He described the TCS journey as highly charged with emotion, during the course of which no special favours were received. “It is never a popularity contest, and it entails the taking of hard decisions. It has been an exciting journey during the course of which an enterprise has been created that runs through the bloodstream of the nation. Every day half a million shipments are generated.”
“We have succeeded in reinventing ourselves”
With the arrival of the Internet many TCS people felt threatened, said Mr. Awan. “We have succeeded in reinventing ourselves, however. Behind the scenes TCS teams have developed new products and services. We saw opportunities in outsourcing, a dynamic new trend in the emerging global village, and we set up state-of-the-art printing facilities in two locations for the printing and in-time distribution of utility bills and bank statements. Here we have electronic interface with the client’s database, saving the client major expense and hassle. We set up an inventory management system for sim cards, with the telecom companies’ cash flows major beneficiaries. We have introduced the TCS Supply Chain Advisory to streamline and optimize our customers’ operations. We firmly believe that in our customers’ growth lies our own growth.” Khalid Awan describes e-commerce as the most exciting evolving frontier that has vastly enhanced outreach. Complimenting it is the new TCS product ‘Hazir’, the 60 minutes pick-up promise that he says is a big challenge, but one which robust technology is making possible. Winding up his keynote address Mr. Awan paid special emphasis on organizational development, and was particularly proud of the fact that over 850 MBA graduates from our leading business schools had applied to TCS for employment.
“Given proper management Pakistan can become a welfare state for its people” – Arif Habib
Next up was the address by the chief guest Arif Habib, better known for his six stints as president/chairman of the Karachi Stock Exchange. Lesser known is the fact that he is a leading light of the fertilizer industry as chairman of Fatima Fertilizer Company Limited, Pakarab Fertilizers Limited, and DH Fertilizers Limited in addition to being chairman of Aisha Steel Mills Limited and Arif Habib DMCC Dubai, alongside his primary function as chief executive of the Arif Habib Corporation Limited, the holding company of the Arif Habib Group.
Arif Habib was firmly of the view that an increase in economic activity was the only route to defusing the ticking human population bomb and ensuring that Pakistan’s demographic dividend doesn’t turn into a liability. “We need to encourage a stronger partnership between professionals and entrepreneurs. Allah has blessed us with so much but we are not managing well these blessings. Pakistan has huge potential, and given proper management it can become a welfare state for its people. We need to address the problems of security, corruption and low technology, and focus on the low hanging fruit in the agriculture, construction and information technology sectors. Labour intensive industries will resolve the employment issues.”
With the oil prices coming down Mr. Habib felt it was time to launch infrastructure projects, but he lamented the prevalence of the extremely low trust culture within which decision makers were fearful of and the many opportunities within it, and cited the shortage of infrastructure as the main hindrance deterring private investment. Funding your dream
Following the first tea and coffee break of the day, Jawwad Farid of Risk Solutions took the stage on the issue of funding your dreams. In the midst of all the very valid advice that he proffered, the one which stood out was incubating your project with your own shoestring resources until it achieves critical mass and starts attracting the attention of the marketplace.
“If the message that you send out is that you need the money, then you will have problems getting funding. The more desperate you are the greater the difficulty. If the system doesn’t work for you then learn to operate outside of it. For every why you encounter ask why not?
Show the world what you see and give them a reason to believe, but don’t hold your breath. The best source of funding could take time to materialize.”
The next event on the menu was the granddaddy of the day that gave practical expression to the conference title, entrepreneurship. Moderated by Octara associate Hassan Bin Rizwan (Prymus Technology), eight startups were given three minutes each to make their elevator pitch (so called because that’s how long you have in an elevator to buttonhole a financier) to a panel of judges who would decide a winner and handover a cheque of one hundred thousand rupees to aid project mobilization. The panel of judges comprised Moin Fudda (CIPE), Jawwad Farid (Risk Solutions), and Imran Moinuddin (DotZero & Next Degree).
No surprises that 7 of the 8 projects presented were Internet based, catered to the moneyed classes, and were half baked for the most part, except perhaps the one put forward by SmartChoice, shopping made easy, which lost out by one point. The one that got the judges attention and vote dealt in bricks and mortar, as it were, and addressed the concern of the grassroots – a high-tech, scientifically designed vending cart that offered space optimization and would result in street vendors occupying less space on the city pavements and roads, along with adding a pleasing aesthetics dimension to our public spaces. The AeroSync team of young entrepreneurs comprised of students of the Karachi University’s visual arts department, and was over the moon with their success.
The Founders’ Pitch had brought to the fore a healthy indicator. A segment of the youth were
using their brains in new path finding ways in their search for self-employment, and thinking
like employers rather than employees, and not looking for ‘secure’ employment shelters. The
million dollar question concerns the extent of this segment of potentially trailblazing youth? Were these youngsters flashes in the pan? Or were they the front-end of a new and vibrant
trend on the national landscape? Given the sad state of Pakistan’s enabling environment for
new startups, and the national preoccupation with government.
Muhammad Ali Saeed, the CEO of SAOO Capital, was up next providing insights into leading behaviors for entrepreneurs. He started proceedings with putting up the celebrated Apple recruitment advertisement that dated back to 1997 and epitomized the DNA of entrepreneurs. Created by the Los Angeles office of advertising agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, the copy read “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round