PM Youth Entrepreneurship initiative is primarily a loan scheme and has nothing to do with entrepreneurship. It is not a new program and is a ditto copy of the previous Government’s schemes.
This article belongs to the fourth episode of the YouTube show “Beyond profit” and the topic of this episode was Prime Minister’s Youth Entrepreneurship scheme. The guests of this episode are Mr. Nasir Ayub (founder of Spectra Engineering solutions) and Mr. Usman Ahmed ( Founder of Startup insider magazine).
Discussion started with the opinions on this initiative from the guests. One Panelist Mr. Nasir believes that it is a very positive initiative from the current Government. It is a well-organized scheme and we as a nation will reap the benefits of it in the future. However, it is very important to track the efficiency of this scheme from time to time to make the best out of it. Mr.Usman had a different perspective on it. He sees this initiative as a loan scheme and nothing more than that. He further mentioned that it is not a new scheme and a copy of the previous Government’s schemes. He gave an example of Startup India plan 2013 in which the Indian Govt. spend 1.5 billion rupees and there is a separate ministry only for this. They made incubation centers, labs, startup fests to encourage the people to participate with a fully mastered plan and with great ideas. Now you can see the success stories coming out of this initiative. They have already raised 1 billion rupees in terms of investments. So, they have already achieved their break even and now there will be just profits.
In another question from the host on the misconception about entrepreneurship that people just need the money to make the businesses work and problem solved. To which, Mr.Usman referred to the fact that the current scheme in hand does not have a proper process to help the young aspiring entrepreneurs. This is just a form with mere requirements to get the loan from the Government without any mechanism to gauge the significance of the business idea. There is no criteria for giving out the money.
Are there any merits involved in this scheme to give out loans and who are the people judging this whole process the process owners? Mr. Usman continued, there is no criteria involved in the process to identify the good and the bad ones. There is only one form involved in the overall process. There is no asking about the industry, training, or any business plan. It is just like throwing away money to the people who want to update their mobiles or cars. There is no impact on the economy because there is no recovery mechanism involved. This scheme is similar to the previous schemes offered by the previous governments. Mr. Nasir affirmatively added that 80% of the businesses fail in the first year. So, the Govt. is left with only 20% of the projects and there is no guarantee that they will payback.
Through this entrepreneurship program, as per the Govt. there will 10 million jobs will be created. Do you think it is a rational or workable statement? Mr.Usman started first satirically, if 10 million people will get the jobs then there is nothing left to do. Pakistan will become a self-sustainable economy but, that is not the case because there is no plan that what businesses are we going to establish to produce 10 million jobs? Who is going to train the people? As such the panelists suggest that a training program has to train the potential entrepreneurs. A similar training program was launched in Sydney – where each week was tagged with milestones such as cash flow statements, marketing plans, etc. Here, there is no such criteria nor mechanism whereby such concrete training could be conducted. The earlier governments launched incubation centers earlier initially that was criticized as well however in retrospect, that idea seems more logical in the sense that it was not just handing money to people who were not trained nor savvy in business. Those incubation centers invited applicants through proper scrutiny and panel decisions.
In addition to the many operational and execution shortfalls of this program, another is the transparency of the panelists and decision-makers who will be making the call for who gets the loan and who does not. The people involved in the running of the program must be people with great and honest intentions however, Usman, remains skeptical of their relevant experience, expertise, and hands-on knowledge. There seems no plan that would measure the success or ensure effective productivity if this intervention simply inviting the Prime Minister to the Convention Center and making a hue and cry about a project of this magnitude will not ensure success.
Nasir Khan candidly remarks that this project has an impact on several stakeholders and he suggests that this be supervised by the PM’s own office. Further, he suggests that running a pilot project, closely running it and only then taking this project to a massive program as intended in the first step he reemphasizes the fact that a pilot needs to be run to ensure proper tracking and validation of success before a full out launch on a large scale. Usman sends out a very honest heartfelt message saying that there many things that one does not know how to do it is not a fact for embarrassment but it is an opportunity to learn and benefit from. So if the team designated to do this job does not know how to do this job they can be trained and Imran Khan being a leader is first and foremost a teacher. And once the prerequisites of having a trained team executing plans is achieved only then can the PM ensure success in his projects.
The mighty investment going out in this project would benefit from some of it being utilized for the long-term benefit of a trained group of people. 1400 years ago Prophet (PBUH) as a leader is an example and his core job description was not holding sessions with his advisors or parliamentarians but he coached, guided, and taught his people from morning till night. He coached his advisors and pallbearers those people who were responsible to change the ways of working and it is due to his diligence in coaching and training his people that the ways did change. Walk-in his footsteps and these interventions that are albeit in best of intentions will yield great results.