Running a successful business as a young person is always a challenge. But doing it after devastating natural disasters takes it to a new level. After the 2010 floods devastated communities in Pakistan, young people are learning how to set up or improve their own small businesses in these challenging times.
22 year-old Aman (pictured left) spent weeks trying to find somewhere to stay when floods struck. “After a few weeks when the water slowly started to recede I returned to see my home and shop completely destroyed.”
“I was working as an electrician and earning well. After the floods my shop was in no condition to run properly. It’s been very tough for my family ever since.”
Since 2012, we have helped 150 young people to learn entrepreneurial and business skills, helping them to improve their existing businesses. The training was funded by our generous supporters who donated to our Pakistan Floods emergency appeal in 2010.
Over half of the young people trained couldn’t read or write so the training was tailored to their needs.
Business skills training included interactive learning games, such as an adapted snakes and ladders game, where giving a customer the wrong change would mean slipping down a snake, but if you labelled all of your products clearly you would climb a ladder.
A picture e-book was also developed to teach young people about pricing, costs and profits, business planning, customer service, packaging, and a ‘spot the difference game’ to show good and bad business practices.
Before the training Aman was earning around £145 a month, but he has now managed to increase his income to nearly £400 a month.
“I trained in many things including business development, book keeping and disaster risk reduction. This has not only improved my skills to earn more but I learned how to become a good citizen and gained the confidence to present myself on different forums and panels. I have introduced myself to various organizations, I took part in exposure trips and that is the very first time I left my home town to visit big cities like Islamabad and Peshawar, and visit their markets to develop my networking skills.”
Y Care International work with a local NGO, the AASAAN Foundation to support the young people.
“AASAAN’s support has helped me a lot” said Aman, “I improved the condition of my shop, and now have better tools and materials so the quality of my work is better.”
Youth Business Forums were established as part of the project so young people could share their business ideas and discuss problems. As a result, many young entrepreneurs are now working together to share the cost of transporting goods, to sell each other’s products in their stores, or to take advantage of reduced costs for bulk buying. Many have also started their own savings and loans committees in their communities which are helping them to invest in their businesses.
In the last year, an amazing 99 per cent of the entrepreneurs have increased their income. They now have improved access to healthcare, education and other services. One entrepreneur who increased her profits now sends all three of her children to school when before she could only afford to send her eldest son.
Due to the cultural traditions of the region the participation of young women had initially been a challenge but AASAAN ensured these barriers were overcome. For some women, the group visits to local markets were their first time outside their village, which helped to build their confidence as well as their understanding of business.