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A Vision that Could Change Pakistan

It takes a lot of strength to pursue your vision. It takes even more to keep pursuing your vision after it has been ridiculed. Young entrepreneur Syed Shoaib Hasan Rizvi did just that, and now his vision is helping make the world a better place.

Rizvi had a dream to improve the lives of women in his home country of Pakistan. Growing up in a male-dominated society, he witnessed extreme levels of gender discrimination. It was when he moved to Canada that Rizvi first witnessed a society where both men and women were empowered.

“Having lived in Canada for a few years, I had experienced a culture where women receive support and encouragement, and so are a driving force in that country’s economic success,” Rizvi stated in an address to the Youth Assembly at the United Nations.

This was part of what inspired Rizvi to create the “I Am An Entrepreneur” campaign. The campaign helps women in Pakistan who have the passion and drive to start their own venture but lack access to the proper funds and resources. The campaign provides them with the microloans and the mentorship training they

need in order to pursue a better life for themselves and their families.

“I believe that if God gives you more in life, you have a responsibility to use your life as a force toward a greater mission. The women I have met lead hard lives. Seeing how one loan can change the trajectory of their lives and their children motivates me to continue to grow my vision. Earning an income secures a woman respect in the household and affords her economic independence,” said Rizvi.

It was an uphill battle for Rizvi to launch the campaign. “I faced ridicule and opposition from my fellow countrymen in Pakistan who thought I was wasting my time by helping women create their own ventures,” Rizvi explained. Fortunately, the young entrepreneur persevered.

In patriarchal societies like that of Pakistan, women face huge obstacles when it comes to bettering themselves socially and economically. This is partly due to women having less access to education in these societies. So when a man recognizes this and is driven to help, he can make a remarkable difference.

Rizvi spoke of this issue at the Youth Assembly, stating, “women’s empowerment is not only a feminist concern – it requires collaborative action from social enterprises, NGOs, UN agencies, governments, banks, and the private Sector, and most importantly, men.”

Rizvi’s campaign to improve the lives of women could help change the future for many girls and women – and he is not stopping there. He is currently attending University of Western Ontario in Canada, working towards a degree in Media, Information, and Technoculture. Rizvi hopes to learn more about how media can be a catalyst for change in underprivileged communities.

Age does not limit creative and innovative problem solving skills. This point has been proven by the determination shown by the young, selfless Rizvi on more than one occasion. The dogged pursuit of his dreams, coupled with his refusal to ignore situations he felt were unacceptable, led to him winning the Outstanding Youth Delegate Award from the United Nations.

Rizvi is an example of how young people can look beyond their own lives and make a tangible difference in the lives of others.

Featured Image by DFID – UK Department for International Development on Flickr
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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