Pakistan’s entrepreneurial culture at present is characterized by constraints and challenges faced by young entrepreneurs. This article explains a few such challenges and puts forth brief recommendations to overcome them.
The first and foremost being social constraints, which are largely related to the collectivistic and family-oriented culture of Pakistan. The majority of our society has advanced greatly in education but it still remains entwined in the old cultural and family values inherited from its ancestors. Parents exert great influence on career decisions of their children as they finance them. The social pressures of settling the matrimonial commitments of their children at the earliest, especially females, impedes opportunities of adventurism. Hence, it thwarts the innovative capacities of young minds, which stand as a major blockade for growth and development of the entrepreneurial market of Pakistan.
To overcome this constraint, there stands a need for young entrepreneurs to build the confidence of their family members in the execution of their university business ideas into a small startup venture. Educational institutions can play a pivotal role in creating a favorable environment for students to polish their entrepreneurial skills. Besides this the media can play a pivotal role by inviting young entrepreneurs to share their experiences with their family.
Educational bureaucracy is another major constraint faced by the young entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Universities in Pakistan are largely regulated by Higher Education Commission (HEC) and its subsidiaries. Professors majorly evaluate the student projects based on the theoretical application of concepts they have taught rather than analyzing their commercial viability. Professors and other faculty members in universities lack practical competence in inculcating entrepreneurial vision amongst the students. They primarily focus on completion of course contents aimed at addressing the needs of the employees in the job market rather than entrepreneurs. This inhibits the development of the required mindset, vision and related entrepreneurial skills amongst the students required for excelling in the entrepreneurship sector. This challenge needs to be effectively addressed by HEC by adapting to the needs of the entrepreneurs and also by conducting scientific research on local entrepreneurs.
Moreover, start-up entrepreneurs in our market usually formulate a business plan, and follow it. This creates a sense of inflexibility and puts them in a distorted state. Business competitions for start-up entrepreneurs also an ineffective as it focuses on them “looking successful’ rather than “actually being successful.”
It is highly possible that an entrepreneur with ineffective management and execution skills and better presentation skills can win these business competitions. Therefore, it is necessary to replace these business competitions for young entrepreneurs with business exhibitions where the customer stands to be the judge. An example is the Lahore Eat festival recently held in March in Lahore and the Chatkhara festival in Karachi for food entrepreneurs. In addition to exhibitions, the panel of judges invited to judge these ventures should belong to all walks of life to ensure humility, wisdom and maturity and to eliminate biasness in the recognition of the real aptitude of the entrepreneur.
Educational and research institutions should inculcate a sense of awareness about local problems amongst the young entrepreneurs, and they should be encouraged to formulate a sustainable solution for solving them.