Published Date: Feb 15, 2016
Promoting Social Enterprise Means Empowering People, Ensuring Inclusive Economy: AHSAN
ISLAMABAD: Experts called upon the government to create an enabling environment, concrete policy regime and regulatory support for development of social enterprise that contributes to addressing some of the most pressing development challenges and to achieving inclusive economic growth.
This was the crux of a policy symposium jointly organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and the British Council.
Speaking as chief guest, Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Prof Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan has a great potential for growth of social enterprise sector in the areas of sustainable resources mobilization, food production, recycling industry, education and health sectors, infrastructural development, design arts, heritage, tourism and sports.
Amid Pakistan’s growing labour market needs, we would need 15 to 20 million jobs in the next 20 years which we can provide only by adopting out of box approaches such a developing social enterprises so that our youth generates jobs and not seek them.
"We need to reduce cost of doing social enterprise business. We need vibrant civil society and private sector, which provide ideas that lead our youth to get proper business opportunities with social development approach," the minister said calling upon private sector to invest in Pakistan to ensure that businesses set up by youth and social enterprises get strengthened.
The minister was of the view that instead of looking for foreign aid, we need to develop enterprise spirit in our people, which will address our social problems, empower our communities and contribute to economy and capital.
He said 2025 vision provides basis for growth of social enterprise.
Ahsan Iqbal hoped that the forthcoming recommendation from this policy symposium and research on development of social enterprise would be action oriented providing solutions as to how we need to promote social enterprise in Pakistan.
Earlier, Dr. Abid Suleri, Executive Director SDPI said the motive of developing and promoting social enterprise is to bring social change by business and not through business.
He stressed that it is a big departure from Corporate Social Responsibility where businesses promote social development for increasing their profit.
The Social Enterprises do business to promote social development and not merely their profit.
Jim Booth, Deputy Country Director British Council Pakistan said our focus is to integrate (sectors of) education, capacity building, governance and policy engagement into the fold of social enterprise.
Social Enterprise is relatively a new concept in Pakistan but it is gaining attention because of the challenges it has taken up to resolve. He said the British Council and SDPI are carrying the discourse on social enterprise forward for wider relevant audiences.
He said Pakistan has a large number of youth and capitalizing on this dividend is very important to foster inclusiveness through promoting social enterprise.
Tristan Ace from British Council said Development of social enterprise would help grow Pakistan’s economy being inclusive and sustainable.
Social enterprises create job for those who are disadvantaged in the labour market.
British Council undertakes policy work in South Asia under its social enterprise framework and builds capacity so that the system work and higher education help in growth of social enterprise.
Think global, trade social is a punch line to move ahead. British Council itself is a social enterprise having a social development purpose.
Dr Vaqar Ahmad, Deputy Executive Director SDPI said it is important to learn how other countries have developed a support framework for social enterprises.
We need to provide tax break to enterprises, which have a social impact and also create jobs. Furthermore ‘social entrepreneurship’ needs to be encouraged in the curriculum of our business schools.
Dr Sheharyar Khan, Research Fellow SDPI, while sharing preliminary results from the study SDPI is conducting on social enterprise (SE), said that at-least four different kinds of enterprises are working in Pakistan.
These include for profit, non profit, semi-government organisations, and for profit organisations established by social entrepreneurs. These are working in areas of education, health, water, human resources, water and energy, and skill development.
Some other experts who expressed comments in various sessions were of the view that Pakistan is currently facing a demographic youth bulge with a majority of the population under the age of 30 years.
Social enterprise and related concepts of social entrepreneurship and social innovation present an ideal opportunity for young people in Pakistan to build innovative ideas into businesses and at the same time, contribute positively to society by addressing some of the critical development challenges faced by the country.