Dinning with entrepreneurs of circumstances
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.
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.
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.