A unique initiative, Mosaic, will soon be making its appearance in Pakistan with the objective of helping young people from the not-so-affluent backgrounds achieve entrepreneurial skills and thus realise their full potential to become contributing members of the society.
This was announced by Jonathan Freeman, managing director of the UK-based organisation, while talking to this correspondent at the offices of The News on Saturday afternoon.
He said that the organisation was a personal initiative of His Royal Highness Prince Charles and was set up in 2007 to help children from a broad spectrum of social, ethnic and financial backgrounds, transcending religious or ethnic barriers.
By interacting with volunteer mentors, young people would be able to gain clarity of thought and hence bridge the gap between aspirations and attainment.
Initially, the campaign aims at selecting children from second- and third-tier schools across Pakistan who would be put in touch with their mentors, mentors being the term for the experts and people who the children would be put in touch with who would guide them in the principles and intricacies of entrepreneurship.
Mosaic, Freeman said, was not an organisation that directly provided financial assistance to these candidates; but it provided much more in the form of inspiration from role models who would engage with these young people and help them discover their latent talents and also the confidence to achieve success in life. Often times, the mentors would provide much more than just their time and opened doors of opportunity in every sense of the term.
Jonathan Freeman informed that a matter of special significance and satisfaction for us -- and for all Muslims -- was the fact that thus far 60-70 percent of the UK-based beneficiaries of the programme were Muslims. It was no surprise then that the majority of the board members of Mosaic were Muslims. Enterprise, which is the name of the programme in Pakistan, he said, would also be an excellent platform to bring people and groups together, help mitigate tensions and misgivings among them and breed a more harmonious society through giving a fillip to economic prosperity.
Faraz Khan, the CEO of SEED (Social Entrepreneurship and Equity Development), the Pakistani partner of Mosaic, who accompanied Mr Freeman, said they had targeted schools in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Balochistan. As the Pakistani counterparts and collaborators, they will be responsible for implementing the programme in Pakistan.
SEED was founded in 2009 as a holdings company. Their core speciality is developing the entrepreneurial “ecosystem” of Pakistan.
Citing their meeting at the UK Deputy-High Commission, Karachi, with HC officials and leaders of trade and industry, Khan said they had met with a very encouraging response from them and said the latter had expressed all-out willingness to help and mentor the young people in whichever way they could.
The UK Deputy-High Commission has extended support to the Enterprise Challenge in Pakistan (ECP). This speaks volumes for the UK’s government's proactive support to the development of collaborative and progressive educational opportunities in Pakistan.
Prior to Pakistan, the project has benefited a large number of young people in other Muslim countries, notably Qatar and Jordan.
Jonathan Freeman cited the case of a young person who had been a product of a care home, but through participation in the Mosaic programme, had now set up his own journal. He also cited the case of a young man from Iraq who had led a very difficult life, post-war, and could hardly speak English, but was very proficient with computers. Through Mosaic he was able to gain the confidence and the networking to land a job at a prestigious enterprise.
The Mosaic Enterprise Challenge is its flagship programme and reaches around 5,000 people in the UK. It is a national competition aimed at inspiring and instilling entrepreneurial and business acumen among children in the 11-16 age bracket. They learn about setting up and running a business through a business simulation game. In Pakistan it will involve the 13-16 age group.
Khan hoped that the programme would benefit a large number of children and expressed his appreciation to the large number of icons of industry and civil society who had responded very positively and had agreed to mentor the children.
The following numbers of schools/people will be involved in Pakistan:
Year 1:20 schools; 300 students; 60 teams; 40 mentors
Year 2: 40 schools; 600 students; 120 teams; 80 mentors.
Year 3: 60 schools; 900 students; 180 teams; 120 mentors