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LAHORE: Working from his modest home in Sargodha’s Chak 23, Rao Talha Ibrahim is fast making out a name for himself. And money too. With 16 employees working with him, he says, he is earning hundreds of thousands a month.
What, after all, is he doing and what’s the big deal as a large number of people work from home and earn a lot.
Talha has a distinction: he is just 16 and with his clients as foreigners, he earns in dollars. For the last 10 months or so, the first-year student of a private college has been working on Fiverr, a website connecting freelancers with employers, and has earned thousands of dollars. Though he would not reveal the exact amount he has earned so far, he says his first earning of one week’s work was $500.
Talha started off with self-directed learning and several start-ups like him are bringing foreign exchange to Pakistan.
Muhammad Siddique, a Pakistani-American, sees entrepreneurship as one of the biggest potential, though untapped, for Pakistan. He says every person, who can read and write English and has a computer with Internet connection, can earn like Talha.
“The power of (online) entrepreneurship is what we’ve yet to explore in Pakistan,” says Siddique, who is touring Pakistan, convincing people to go for online work. He set up the Pakistan Social Entrepreneurship Academy, which provides scholarships to entrepreneurs for necessary training, and connects them with the buyers of their works.
He is in Lahore nowadays, lecturing in public and private universities, meeting influential political and social figures and sharing his dream with the media. He cites several success stories during his visits from Karachi to Islamabad, as people are earning dollars using their skills online. “I’ve a dream to create one million entrepreneurs in Pakistan,” he says.
As of now, he has enrolled 50,000 people for the programme and hundreds of people have joined his “non-profit project” and are earning a decent living.
“Sir, I can read and write English, but don’t know any specific skills, so how can I work and earn online?” asked a girl who is doing her graduation in Applied Psychology from the Punjab University. She said the Internet and computer to her was only Facebook, where she spends three to five hours a day.
“There’s a work opportunity in it; if you love meeting people, they are your untapped sources, and you can earn thousands of dollars utilising their skills,” says Siddique.
Sharing his story with the audience at an event, he said he belonged to a rural locality of Rahim Yar Khan and got his college and university education through self-support. After having done a degree in computer sciences from the Quaid-i-Azam University, he migrated to Canada in 1996, and after one year to America. Since then, he did not look back, and have executed hundreds of businesses from joint ventures to marketing, publishing and social media strategies.
“I’ve failed hundreds of times, and have heard ‘No’ hundreds of time, but every time I’ve got success avenues from ‘Nos’,” he says. He tells the students that once you hear a ‘No’ from an interviewer, say a big thank you to them for their terse response and then ask them the reason for rejection. “Just communicate with them, and once a few sentences are exchanged, a relationship is built.”
Just like Siddique, another Karachi-based social media guru, Rehan Allahwala, also preaches, what he says the blessings of Internet to the people. He runs more than 50 ventures in the US, Europe, the UAE, Malaysia and Pakistan, but he calls himself retired at 38 and spends most of his time to create a poverty-free planet. He is doing so through providing free training and work opportunities to the Pakistani people.
Though creating one million entrepreneurs may be a drop in the (200-million country) ocean, Siddique is optimistic that he will achieve it in a short time. “Look, these one million start-ups will inspire another five millions, and the journey will go on.”