The power of others – Your Success Requires The Aid Of Others

9OTHERS-logo Back in May 2012 I got introduced to Katie Lewis at a peer collaboration forum held at LBS, though that  particular forum was not my cup of tea the introduction to Katie and 9Others kicked off a series of epic mini adventures. If you are unfamiliar with 9Others I recommend you familiarise yourself, meet up with Katie and Matthew and join the community of ‘others’.

Having attended a few dinners, benefited from the community and given back, I took the plunge and with the founders blessing started hosting dinners whilst travelling to cities unfamiliar with concept of 9others and/or organised peer collaboration, my first was in Islamabad, the second in Karachi and third in Dubai, and since then its gone on when ever I end up in any of these cities and have been awarded the privilege of being the host for Islamabad, Karachi and Dubai for 9Others! (thank you Katie, Matthew)

In May the focus of the dinners in Karachi changed, whilst the usual suspects are entrepreneurs from tech and tech related sectors I opted to run a micro-fail experiment and see what happens when you get 9 entrepreneurs of circumstances together, the experience was stimulating, challenging and cosmic!


The first such dinner was held in the last week of May 2014 in a neighbourhood called Qayumabad in Karachi, Pakistan; you can read about it here. Since I was in Karachi for a few days that week I moderated the dinner myself and trained the team at Peace Through Prosperity (PTP)  to host and more importantly moderate the dinners. As with DSDM and SCRUMBAN the PTP team took to it like fish to water and in the first week of June hosted two additional dinners! one in Korangi 2.5 and one in Bilal colony. Though both the dinners were successes, what happened at the dinner in Korangi 2.5 is what I want to share in this post…

Entrepreneur of circumstance Fruit Vendor Karachi

Naeem Uddin – a street Food vendor with a cart but no Food to sell

The 9Others dinner in Korangi 2.5 was held on the 7th of June 2014 and attended by 10 entrepreneurs of circumstances and 3 moderators from team PTP. The age ranges were from 17 year old Mohammad Masood a street based fruit vendor to 50 year old Abdul Rasheed a local Fruit wholesaler. At the dinner one of the attendees was Naeem Uddin a 45 year old food vendor whose challenge was his livelihood; recent troubles in the city had wiped him out financially and though he had his own cart to sell wares from he had no capital or credit line to buy stock and start over.

Peace Through Prosperity Poverty Entrepreneur of circumstance Fruit wholesale Karachi

Rasheed a Fruit wholesaler seizes the opportunity, extends Naeem a credit line and creates another outlet for his wares!

In stepped Abdul Rasheed a local Fruit wholesaler who enquired if Naeem would be open to selling fruit instead of samosas and kebabs… Naeem’s response was resolute yes and Abdul Rasheed promised him a PKR 50,000- (£300) credit line on stock. Team PTP checked on Naeem the next day and found him with a full cart of fruits and a beaming smile… it is a win-win for both the entrepreneurs!

That’s the power of others… when peer collaboration and peer sourcing works it is magical!  The Peace Through Prosperity team plans to host 2-4 such 9others dinners for this entrepreneur segment on a monthly basis. Good job and good luck… you can keep pulse with what they are up to here, here and here.

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9others dinner in Karachi with Entrepreneurs of circumstances

9OTHERS-logo Another short trip to Karachi with a full on agenda; a conference to speak at, SCRUM & Kanban trainings to deliver, a Mini-MBA curriculum to review, patrons and board members to catchup with, bureaucracy to on-board, politicians to win over and plenty to catch up on.

All of that aside the most interesting engagement had to be hosting 9other’s second dinner in Karachi, a dinner with a difference. The usual suspects at any 9others’ global dinners are tech heads, startups, lawyers, soon to be movers and shakers of a multitude of sectors, most using technology platforms as the basis of their empires to be… all meeting up with the common goal of gaining the aid of others for their own successes and of course extending their assistance to aid the success of others.

9Others is undeniably an awesome concept and over the years has created a helpful and powerful community, it is about time the power of the network was introduced to entrepreneurs who need it the most; entrepreneurs of circumstances that Peace Through Prosperity (PTP) is engaged with.

Mobilising was a challenge, for our guests were alien to the concept of 9others as well as networking to help grow their businesses, these are individuals who work 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week plying their trade on street pavements as cobblers, hawkers, fruit and vegetable vendors or street barbers. They get little time if any to network with their peers and have little appreciation for peer sourcing solutions to their business challenges.

Having said that Nasir Shah the SCRUM Master and team leader for the PTP field team and Abdul Rasheed the project manager for the Mini-MBA project did a superb job at convincing and gathering 9 entrepreneurs of circumstances for the dinner.

9others dinner in Karachi with Entrepreneurs of Circumstances - Peace Through Prosperity On arrival our guests were amused at the principle of the invitation, it is rare for them to be invited to a restaurant without occasion, more amusing the notion that it will be beneficial for their businesses, most of whom have been struggling with for years if not longer. There was some element of mistrust since unlike the usual 9other dinners as hosts we were picking up the tab, and if anything these folks know there is no such thing as a free dinner.

Nasir who also happens to be a linguist with 5 local languages in his tool kit did well to set the scene and explain that we wanted nothing more than them to attend, try it out and at worst they will be dined at our expense and at best they will gain a peer network.

The trades we had in attendance were,  four fruit vendors, one vegetable vendor, two juice vendors and two street cobblers all from Qayyumabad in Karachi, Pakistan. To begin with our guests were  trepidatious, then shy, Shehzad Khan a 50 year old fruit vendor found the whole thing a little amusing though there was more scepticism there than amusement. The rules were laid down, share your recent successes, your upcoming challenge and lets help each other overcome the challenges and learn from the successes of others. It was a struggle to irk out successes since they saw none worthy of being shared until Anwar a 33 year old street cobbler broke the ice saying he had a bumper day a couple of weeks ago when he managed to earn 400 rupees in a single day (that’s £2.40 / $4) and with that we had a benchmark for success and the rest followed with their own tales of awesome successes they had had over the last week, month and more.

Peace Through Prosperity 9others The challenges part had to be curated, some of our guests assumed since there was free dinner on offer there might also be free capital on offer too, we had to interject and make it clear we were there to help them help each other and there was no capital on offer, we could assist them in obtaining micro-finance loans but only after they had completed the Mini-MBA program and there too proven that they were capable of growing their businesses, cutting down on expenditures, developing new services and increasing their margins. With that done the nature of the challenges being aired changed, though they may seem insignificant to us they are mammoth if we stand in their shoes.

With Katie and Matthew’s blessing Peace Through Prosperity shall be hosting a 9others dinner in Karachi every fortnight across the seven neighborhoods  the Mini-MBA program is being delivered for the six selected street based trades. You can learn more about 9others here, and about Peace Through Prosperity here.

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9others in Dubai – the ups and downs

2013-04-06 20.23.15 OK so earlier today 9others in Dubai, got canned because we did not have the numbers to make it worth while… after it had been canned folks started calling in asking for it to be hosted regardless! so I had to relent and it happened! a good meal with 9others came to Dubai on the 6th of April 2013 with the drama reflected in the days weather too… sand storms followed by rain! summed up the mood!

We had 7 folks attending the dinner (never quite got to ordering food, it was a liquid dinner), the venue was Bar 1897 at the Kempinski – Emirates Mall…. the mix was great, we had finance, alternative & renewable energy (all the way from Germany), new media, media buying, techDubai April 2013 Kubair Shirazee and the local TedX organiser attending! and everyone came to each others aid like cavalry! some of the challenges thrown at the group were strategic… like raising $7 mil for a client in the next 4 weeks to more operational… delivering a project in the renewable sector in the next few months. The locals (if there is such a thing in Dubai!) clicked with the concept and we have a number of hosts to take the dinners forward in Dubai!

Three good meals with 9others in a week in 3 cities 🙂 my work here in Middle Earth is done, off to Blighty in 3 hours! OoRaH

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Hosting My Second 9others Meal! Karachi Ah-yay

With Islamabad under my belt, I was looking forward to hosting Karachi’s first 9others. taking 9others to the third most populous city on the Rock, economic hub of Pakistan, at the cusp of exponential change…  up there amongst the most awesome cities in the world…

9others came to and rocked with Karachi on the 4th of April 2013.

A few thoughts:

1) it was a great experience, plus I had a local to depend on to pick an excellent venue for the evening

2) it was jawsome fun! times two!

3) The locals connected with the concept from the get go, picked it up and flew with it! Cavalry style! seriously!

4) The dinner brought the community that Karachi is to the table, and ALL its community spirit in a few individuals! Super stuff Folks SUPER stuff

9others_April_KHI_2013 The venue was Olivetto at the W.

The mix of diners was great, it was 8others as one of the guests could not make it for good reason… from tech we had an open source product start-up and a tech services entrepreneur, Pakistan’s loudest and most effective tech evangelist, from textiles; a volume exporter and a niche market chic womenswear start-up, a journo turned entrepreneur (a.k.a  the voice of the silent minority), a digital tv launch specialist, an up and coming professional digital photographer and one development sector org represented…

Highlight of the evening was witnessing Cavalry come to the aid of a nascent start-up! in true cavalry style…. a moment of magic! it reminded me of Karachi many many many many moons ago. thanks ‘M’… its Alive!

I suspect there are quite a few folks who’d like to take on the baton from here, and knowing Karachi this is a teams job from here on!

#9others #entrepreneurship #Founders #Karachi #Awesome

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Hosting my first 9others meal!

Having benefited from a few good meals with 9others on home turf and being totally sold on the concept I wanted to test the waters in Islamabad, with Katie & Matthew’s blessing Islamabad got its first taste of 9others on the 31st of March 2013.

9others_meal_Islamabad_31_March_2013 My first 9others meal as a host, and that too an inaugural meal in Islamabad, a few thoughts:

1) it was a great experience but boy is it hard work!

2) it was jawsome fun!

3) The locals connected with the concept from the get go!

4) I might have been a bit of a dictator chairing the meal!

The venue was House of Bombay run by Aamir Akhter, the place serves incredible Pakistani food, its home cooked stuff away from home! probably one of the reasons for its phenomenal growth and popularity! the other being its delightful host.

The mix of diners was great, it was 8others as one of the guests could not make it but we made up for it! we had tech, renewable energy, talent management, PR and two development sector orgs represented on the evening…

Of the techs there… two had very complimentary products one looking for its first pilot and the second well entrenched in the same space! what coincidence! am sure we’ll hear of their collaboration soon!

I might have taken my duties as a moderator/curator a little too seriously but hey someone had to keep the kids in line!9others_meal_Islamabad_31_March_2013_2

Highlight of the evening was finding two candidates to be local hosts to make a good meal with 9others a regular thing in Islamabad! the first good meal with 9others in Islamabad is now the first of many! and I am looking forward to being a guest at a good meal with 9others on my next visit to Islamabad!

Looking forward to another first now in Karachi in 4 days time!

#9others #entrepreneurship #Founders #Islamabad

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