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.

One more option to look on her packing at it levitra vardenafil it of course to take not so simply because a form another and there is a wish to hold in hand her not so strongly. You can carry by me on a wide field.

Inspiring street cobblers – entrpreneurs at the sharp end

As entrepreneurs we believe in the power of ideas and ambition to change markets and economies, but what about entrepreneurs at the sharp Peace Through Prosperity end, our peers many borders, timezones, cultures and life-styles away, those who are entrepreneurs not by choice but by circumstances, like the street cobblers in Pakistan that Peace Through Prosperity (PTP) is working with.

The challenge is to change their attitudes towards their enterprise of circumstance, to inspire them, to bring forth their self belief battered by circumstance and civil society being considerably uncivil towards them!

I regularly speak to would be and nascent start-up founders, though doing so in London, Helsinki, Islamabad or Dubai is easy compared to the street cobblers, for starters the usual audience is from the tech sector embarking on an adventure of choice with ideas that if not unique are not commoditised.  When I took upon myself to be the first guest speaker at Peace Through Prosperity’s mini-MBA program for street cobblers the aim was to explore what works, what does not and what I can learn from the experience and share with future speakers to tailor the message for the audience.

The experience was humbling, stimulating, challenging and cosmic!

I was in on the 4th evening of the mini-MBA program so the hard part of changing attitudes had already been done by the PTP trainers! the street cobblers were already in ‘bigger ambition’ mode! this was humbling – it threw my preconceptions out of the window!

A short conversation with the group made it abundantly clear the cohort had been well equipped for the operational aspects of running their enterprises, the mini-MBA program had done them good! some were spot on with their new marketing strategies, others had become more adept at convincing their peers towards collective buying – a cooperative of sorts in the making! and some had their elevator pitch perfected! I got pitched a repair I did not know I needed at the end of the session!

What was lacking was uniformity, a medium to long term plan… and it made sense; the mini-MBA is designed to better equip them to work ‘in their business’ as efficient operational managers and not ‘on their business’ as strategic visionaries… and it is the latter that builds empires and the former that ensures the cash keeps flowing in process.

My topic of conversation was planning, dedicated to achieving their ambitions from a personal and commercial context….  and to break down the barriers, to let them know there is little difference between a founder who starts in a bedroom or a garage with a laptop and one who starts on the street pavement with a needle and thread.. circumstance or choice the game is the same.

Inspiring Street Cobblers – Guest Speaker Series from Peace Through Prosperity on Vimeo.

You too can get involved,  tell your friends about PTP’s work, like them on Facebook, follow them on twitter, write/contribute to their blog, do yout part to change livelihoods for the less privileged on the Rock. Its not about giving them a hand-out, its about giving them a leg-up.

On a unrelated note I realised how my  Urdu has taken a slide! came back to Blighty with a few good reads in Urdu and hope to improve my Urdu soon… before speaking to another street cobbler cohort in the future!

One more option to look on her packing at it levitra vardenafil it of course to take not so simply because a form another and there is a wish to hold in hand her not so strongly. You can carry by me on a wide field.

Founders Weekend London Feb 2013… and Mighty ones at the very sharp end…

founderswknd Over the 15th and 16th of Feb Founders weekend #FWknd came to London and that too in some style. Met great entrepreneurs… some who had flown in across the pond, locals I had not met before, some repeat offenders like myself, some on their first offense, others contemplating their next! our hosts from Ceaser’s and of course my favorite London duo Katie and Matthew from 9Others.

Our hosts from Ceaser’s went all out, no holds barred, from an incredible evening out at the Icon Fwknd_London_2013_2 Bar, to a day at the races and a closing evening at the Playboy club and thank you for it! it was awesome.

We shared tales from our journeys, life in the trenches, the decisions made to go over, to retreat only to retake, to hold or not, discussed our next acts, learned how to make a good 2013-02-15 20.10.48 margarita from Kai (the cocktail master at the Icon Bar at Empire) who makes a mean margarita (the secret is in the agave nectar) but not close to what they concoct at La Mananitas on N Halsted in Chicago, but I did not have the heart to tell the man..he did share a secret after all!

And while I have the attention of the many other founders, co-founders, first time and repeat offenders and many still planning their first I’d like to tell you about another bunch of founders across the third rock, never dined and 2013-02-16 14.41.24 spoiled silly in such style, never brought together to connect and build that thing that feeds our individual success – the community or finding their 9others! but just as dedicated, persistent and hard working as everyone of us out there, but…. dealt a short hand by fate.

These are the micro-entrprenerus, the founders at the very sharp end; the Mighty in my opinion. The street cobblers who shine and repair shoes on street pavements, the jack of all trades who’d fix or attempt to fix anything you throw at ’em for a dollar or less, the barber who specialises in servicing others living on or below the poverty line with his/her under a tree MOchee_Haripur_2012_PTP barber shop, the seasonal cart vendor who’d sell fruits and vegs one season and use the same cart to collect scrap metal and recyclables off season and the many many more trades and crafts that these founders find themselves involved in to make ends meet, to feed their families and support extended families several borders away. Unlike us they are founders by circumstance not by choice.

So while I have the attention of the founders from Founders Weekend on both sides of the pond and beyond, spare a few minutes to visit Peace Through Prosperity’s site and see how this charity is passing on knowledge and skills from our trenches to theirs, teaching them vocational and entrepreneurial skills to help them grow their businesses, maximise profits, recognise, avail and identify new opportunities.

Watch the vids and see how spending 2 hours a day 5 evenings in a single week undergoing PTP’s business growth training (our mini MBA program) can transform their lives, how all those who have passed through our program have seen double digit growth in their revenues and how that has changed their lives and given them the opportunity to change the lives of their families. And if you like what Peace Through Prosperity is doing in conflict zones then spare a little of your hard earned reward from your own time in the trenches for a fellow warrior many borders, timezones, cultures and life-styles away.

And if you do not feel donating cash is the right thing to do then volunteer to donate an hour or less of your time on the third rock, tell your friends about our work, like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter, write/contribute to our blog, visit our site every now and then to see how we are and will continue to change livelihoods for the less privileged. Its not about giving them a hand-out, its about giving them a leg-up.

Peace Through Prosperity Peace Through Prosperity has been founded by myself and my better 2/3rds Sahar Zaidi-Shirazee, is funded by ourselves, our friends, family, folks like you and is run by an awesome, gifted, dedicated, incredible, ridiculously amazing and brave team.

“Your success requires the aid of others, and their’s yours.” 9Others.
(the last three words are my addition but am sure K&M wont mind!)

#Foundersweekend @Foundersweekend @katielewis66 @mstafford @GarthWorking @Magliocchetti @givinggood @tariqshaukat ‏@sharonjuliemac #Fwknd #Caesers #CaesersFW #PovertyAlleviation #Talesfromthetrenches #Peace #Hope #9Others #Kubair #bGiv

One more option to look on her packing at it levitra vardenafil it of course to take not so simply because a form another and there is a wish to hold in hand her not so strongly. You can carry by me on a wide field.