TEDx Launched in Karachi, Pakistan

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a U.S. based private non-profit foundation that is best known for its conferences, now held in Europe and Asia as well as the U.S., devoted to what it calls "ideas worth spreading." Its lectures, called TED Talks distributed through the Internet, are subject to an eighteen-minute time limit. Speakers are an eclectic mix of people with ideas representing a wide cross section of humanity.

TED is run by Chris Anderson, a Pakistani-born Oxford-educated journalist, who recently returned to the land of his birth to launch TEDx Karachi conference. Organized by Dr. Awab Alvi, aka Teethmaestro, and others, the theme of the Karachi conference held on June 4, 2010 was "What Pakistan Needs Now". Chris Anderson, Curator, TED, Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder/CEO, Acumen Fund, Roshaneh Zafar, Founder/CEO, Kashf Foundation, Asad Umar, CEO, Engro, Monis Rahman, Founder/CEO, Naseeb Networks, Asad Rezzvi, CEO, e-Cube Global and Joshinder Chaggar, Theater Artist. It was attended by a very diverse crowd of 500 people.

According to reports from a number of citizen journalists who attended the conference, Chris talked about the power of the technology and connectivity to transform lives in the developing world. He expects that ubiquitous cell phones will have all the capabilities to connect to the Internet in the developing world. Ubiquitous Internet access combined with online applications and videos will help change how most of us learn, play, think, act and contribute to society.

Some of what Chris talked about is already happening via YouTube. Though it was not mentioned by him, an example of it is the Khan Academy, established by a Pakistani-American Salman Khan in Silicon Valley, which uses Youtube videos to teach a variety of subjects ranging from math to science to personal finance. Availability of these videos via cell phones will enhance opportunities for teaching a much larger number of young people.

TEDx Karachi featured Asad Umar of Engro Power, an appropriate choice in the midst of a major energy crisis requiring creative solutions in Pakistan. Engro is working on clean power plant using flared gas, a CDM project, to produce 225 MW power. In addition, there is a 1200 MW coal-fired plant being built by Engro using Thar coal. Umar believes only 4% of Pakistan's vast Thar coal reserves could take care of all of Pakistan's current energy needs at significantly lower cost.

Monis Rahman, the founder of Naseeb social network as the first US VC-funded company in Pakistan, presented his idea of using the vast network the 90 million cell phones as a job search tools. His company also runs rozee.pk, a job posting site.

Roshanneh Zafar of Kashf Foundation spoke about the work of her foundation funded by the Acumen Fund. Kashf is focused on microfinance to help enable and empower women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. As blogger Nuruddin Abjani who heard her speak put it: "she was one of the most passionate about Pakistan and how she is changing it with her foundation and how each one of us can. She got everyone teary-eyed when she sang the National Anthem and everyone stood and joined her - AS ONE! She showed how ONE person could make ALL the difference in the world. And she is SO DAMN RIGHT! If only we could UNDERSTAND!"

Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund, who happens to be Chris Anderson's wife, spoke last with an urgent call for action. She asked, "If not now, when? If not us, who?" As an example, she mentioned the work of Tasneem Siddiqui in "Khuda Ki Basti", a low-cost housing project to deal with the housing crunch from growing rural-to-urban migration in Karachi, and the second similar project now underway in Lahore.

TEDx Karachi is expected to be just the first of many more TEDx events planned in Pakistan to encourage new ideas and inspire Pakistanis to act by finding and implementing creative solutions to address many of their nation's problems. It is in the best spirit of lighting candles instead of cursing darkness.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Light a Candle, Do Not Curse Darkness

Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Smart Phones to Widen Internet Access in Pakistan

Life Goes On in Pakistan

Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

ICT: Hope or Hype?

Haq's Musings

Truth About India's IT Revolution

Education in Pakistan

Musharraf's Legacy

Quality of Higher Education in India, Pakistan

Pakistan's IT Industry Takes Off

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Software Successes

Pakistan's Industrial Sector

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Auto Sector in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Textile Industry Woes

Pakistan Software Houses Association


nazia said…
pakistan is in the very critical situations now a day, coz first the operation of the trible areas effected the education and then flood effected the all sector of the pakistani peeple, so i really encorge the act for the TEDx which launched in karachi, pakistan for the devolepment.
pakistan jobs
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts from a report on Google-YouTube team visit to Pakistan:

Internet connectivity in Pakistan is as low as 10 percent but opportunities for growth are evident, a team of Google and YouTube officials who visited the country early this month said in a blog post.

The main reason of the growth of internet opportunities in the country, according to the team, is low broadband costs which at $13 per month is quite cheap compared to the other parts of the world. Also Smartphone usage is on the rise and there are a growing number of Pakistani developers who are creating mobile applications for sale both in Pakistan and abroad.

Since 60 per cent of Pakistanis use mobile phone and pay an average bill around $3 per month and SMS being the primary means of communication, the team noticed a good opportunity of Internet growth in Pakistan.

Early this month, the team went to Pakistan to explore business and content opportunities, following up on Google’s Clinton Global Initiative commitment to Pakistan and to sponsor and participate in Pakistan’s first International Youth Conference and Festival.

The availability of local Pakistani content online is another reason the team found to make more Pakistanis engaged into internet. For example, the fusion music “Coke Studio”, a music project sponsored by Coke, became popular in YouTube last summer. Since “Coke Studio” brought the pure aroma of popular music culture of Pakistan it gained a special place in the Internet world. It also brought forth the talented Pakistani musicians into light.

“The Pakistani media is young and voracious. It was just eight years ago that the government opened up the airwaves to allow non-state media channels to exist, and in that short time the media has grown to become an important player in the public discourse in Pakistan, despite occasional crackdowns from authorities,” said the blog post.

The team also said dozens of news organizations have begun to use YouTube as a global distribution platform as well, reaching not only Pakistanis online but the diaspora abroad.

Also during the trip the team attended and participated in the International Youth Conference run by an organization called Khudi. Khudi was founded by the dynamic Maajid Nawaz, a former extremist who changed his views towards moderate Islam and has since devoted his life to educating young people on freedom of expression and anti-extremism.

“Pakistan’s future no doubt lies with its youth. An incredible 62% of Pakistanis are under the age of 25. In this way we saw an opportunity for technology to not only foster economic development, but also to break down borders in the region,” said the blog post.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET story of a celebrated CEO's departure in Pakistan:

(Asad Umar's) tenure at Engro has certainly been a remarkably successful one. When Umar took over as President and CEO of the company in January 2004, Engro was largely just a fertiliser manufacturer with a small petrochemical subsidiary. Under his leadership, however, the company turned into a diversified industrial conglomerate, with interests ranging from fertilizers, foods, petrochemicals, chemical storage, energy and commodity trading.

Small wonder, then, that Dawood was effusive in his praise of Umar when announcing the departure to the company’s employees, noting that under his leadership, Engro’s revenues had grown from just Rs13 billion in 2004 to Rs114 billion in 2011, growing at an annualised rate of nearly 36.4%. (Inflation during that time averaged 12.6% per year.)

Even within the core fertiliser business, Umar took Engro from being a local player to a globally competitive one, leading the firm into the $1.1 billion project that set up the world’s largest single-train urea manufacturing plant in Pakistan.

Umar’s 27-year career at Engro began in 1985, when the company was still a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, the global oil giant. “I still remember the exact figure of my first salary: Rs8,170 per month. My boss at the time said ‘Well, frankly they are paying you too much.’” As CEO of Engro Corporation, Umar was paid Rs68.6 million for the year 2011, which comes to a monthly salary of Rs5.7 million.

In addition to his salary, Umar, 50, was also paid in stock and currently owns about 2 million shares of the company, with options to buy another 924,000, according to Engro’s latest available financial statements. At Monday’s closing price of Rs102.47 per share, that puts the value of Umar’s stocks and options at over Rs300 million.

Umar represents the growing class of executives trained by the country’s business schools who made it big by working their way up the corporate ladder rather than being born into privilege. Umar graduated from the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi in 1984, working for a short stint at HSBC Pakistan before moving to what was then Exxon Chemical Pakistan as a business analyst.

He was the only Pakistani employee of Exxon working abroad (in Canada) when the famous management buyout of Engro took place in 1991. Umar came back to Pakistan and in 1997 was appointed the first CEO of Engro Polymer & Chemicals, the group’s petrochemical arm.

When became president of the company in 2004, he immediately made the company take a global perspective, becoming the first Pakistani private sector firm to hire the top (and expensive) US consulting firm McKinsey & Company to help create the Engro’s strategy. Engro changed its corporate structure as a result of that engagement and is now on a global expansion kick, buying out a US-based food company and considering expanding into the fertiliser business in North Africa to supply the European market.

Riaz Haq said…
Farrukh H Khan is the Country Director & CEO of Acumen Pakistan and one of the leading independent business and financial advisors in the country. With over 25 years of senior management and board level experience, Farrukh is the founding partner and former CEO of BMA Capital Management Limited. Under his stewardship, BMA established itself as the leading investment banking group in Pakistan and received several international awards, including the 2010 Euromoney award for the best investment bank in Pakistan.

He has worked on many landmark transactions, including advising the Privatisation Commission on the US $813 million GDR offering of Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), which was listed on the London Stock Exchange, and successfully advising Etisalat on their $2.6 billion acquisition of PTCL, the largest M&A and foreign direct investment in the history of Pakistan. He has a deep understanding of business and investment environment in Pakistan and has worked with the senior most levels in companies and governments. He also has an excellent network and knowledge of business in the Middle East and South Asia
BR Research: Please give a brief description about Acumen.

Farrukh H Khan: Acumen began investing in Pakistan in 2002, and pioneered the idea of investing for social impact, which essentially means that we invest in businesses that serve the poor. Acumen itself in not for profit, so any return that we make gets reinvested for such ventures.

It is a new way of harnessing philanthropic capital. We do not give out grants or donations but encourage entrepreneurs in six key areas that we focus in: housing, education, health, water and sanitation, alternative energy, agriculture and financial services. We have pioneered the idea of using philanthropic capital to create and encourage sustainable models of development rather than donor driven models. One can also witness here in Pakistan that donor driven models do not suffice to address local issues of development.

This model does not replace traditional philanthropy and charity but we recognise that the poor can be helped with dignity and through sustainable models that are not donor driven. It requires a certain degree of patience because we also understand that establishing a pro-poor business can be time consuming. In our experience, anything between five to seven years is needed until such businesses become s..

BRR: How much is your work force in Pakistan?

FHK: We have a workforce of about 14-15 people in Pakistan. We work across all Pakistan while our main office is in Karachi and another office in Lahore.

BRR: Can you please tell something about the Acumen Fellowship program?

FHK: It is a one year full time programme. There were about 1200 applicants from 10 different countries last year. Fellows spend the first 3-4 months in New York going through a world class training programme. And the remaining nine months are spent with one of our portfolio companies on the ground. To scale up this programme we started regional programmes in different countries.

Under these regional programmes, the training is the same but the structure is more like that of an executive MBA. So the fellows continue with their current jobs and get together at intervals of 5-6 weeks over the course of a year to go through the training module.

This year, for 20 fellowships we got about 1000 applications. Our fellows come from diverse backgrounds and from across the country. The idea is that change should be indigenous and should be led by local people. The fellows should be involved in some social sector work and should also have a strong commitment to bring about progressive change.


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