Archives for category: Conferences

Hi all! Here’s a quick round-up of #socent happenings:

Pakistan Updates:

  • In order to tackle the problem of poor waste management in Karachi, entrepreneur, Khayam Hussain has designed the Ricksaaf, a rickshaw with a steel container that can carry up to 200 kg of trash. How awesome is that? Check out the full story on E-Tribune here.
  • If you missed start-up weekend in Lahore, Waqas Ali of Hometown Shoes sums it up here.



  • Stop by Kuch Khaas in Islamabad this Wednesday for the event, “Changing Mindsets through Film-Making” in honor of International Women’s Day. The event will screen a video montage on themes related to women followed by a poetry recitation and motivational songs by Mumtaz Begum and Abida Ejaz to celebrate the struggles and achievements of Pakistani women. More details here.
  • The Environmental Protection Society is organizing the GCU Environmental Conference on March 12 – 13.


  • Felix Oldenburg, the European director of Ashoka talks about how organizations that do not generate changemakers are going to be left behind regardless of how much money they have. Read the full piece here.
  • Check out the widely circulated post on the 7 worst ideas in international aid – what do you think they missed?

Hello readers! Here’s what’s going on in the exciting world of #socent:

  • Congratulations to P@SHA Fund’s first round winners: Sabah Rehman, Farhan Masood, Waqas Ali and Usman Siddiqui! 
  • Also meet Teach For Pakistan’s first cohort of brilliant fellows!
  • Read Express Tribune’s coverage on Wondermilk, a small venture in Karachi that is selling, promoting and expanding the consumption of camel milk.



  • The deadline to submit your pitch for the Pitch for Change competition at Harvard Social Enterprise Conference (Feb 25 – 26 2012) is January 20.


Some inspiration: 

The Inside Out Project (via 18% Grey Facebook Page)

TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) is a non-profit dedicated to Ideas Worth Spreading. Since its inception in 1984, TED has showcased thousands of inspirational talks from an array of innovative speakers. Some of my own favorites include Simon Sinek‘s talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and spoken word poet Sarah Kay‘s “If I Should have a Daughter.”

TED pushes the envelope of innovation constantly through its speakers, fellows, and its conferences. The TEDx initiative, which was created in this same spirit, is “designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.” In Pakistan, there have already been a number of independently organized TEDx events, and this past Friday was TEDx Karachi.

(Via TEDx Karachi) Noori Performing at the Event

The speakers ranged from cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan to motivational speaker Sarmad Tariq. Journalist & filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who is a TED Senior Fellow, told me last week, “TEDx Karachi is an opportunity for the city to showcase it’s finest in these bleak times- there are so many Pakistanis making the impossible possible that we need to appreciate them & learn from them.”

The initiative also launched “Inside Out,” a large-scale participatory art project initiated by a French street artist “that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of art work,” noted the Express Tribune. The images, taken by seven Karachi photographers, aim to expose the persecution of minorities in Pakistan and foster dialogue on the issue. Photographer Ameera Durrani told Express, “We come from a place that perceives people based on their religion and ethnicity. This creates divide, when essentially we all are the same.”

I missed the live feed of the event, but I anxiously await the TEDx videos of the talks. Congratulations to the organizers for pulling off an incredible event, and for truly encapsulating the potential of Pakistan in the program.  If you have stories or images you’d like to share from TEDx Karachi, post them in the comments section (or you can email them to us at And, while I completely embrace TEDx and all that it does, this Cafe Pyala round-up still made me laugh out loud.

Source: Skoll; The great Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Peter Gabriel, who performed a song in his honor during the Forum.

Kalsoom here, one of your friendly virtual neighborhood TC-P managing editors. I write this post the morning of the third and last day (Friday) of the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford, England. The Skoll Forum is a program of the Skoll Foundation and is co-produced with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University. For those of us in the social entrepreneurship/innovation space, it is one of the conferences of the year, bringing together 800 delegates from the social, finance, private and public sectors and delving into topics and important questions related to the field.

During Wednesday’s Opening Plenary, there was an incredibly poignant talk entitled, “Microfinance in the Balance” with Roshaneh Zafar, the founder and managing director of Kashf Foundation in Pakistan and Alvaro Rodriguez, the chair of Mexico’s largest MF Bank, Compartamos Banco. Given that Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus, the father of microfinance, is currently under fire by the Bangladeshi government (a fact that frankly, is terrible) and stories of suicides in India this year, moderator Jonathan Lewis did a fantastic job of asking the right questions about the industry. As a Pakistani, I was so proud of Zafar, who talked about Kashf’s work and the issue of “Microfinance Plus” articulately and with poise. Rodriguez was more controversial on the panel, defending Compartamos Banco, a for-profit bank that has drawn criticism from more traditional voices in the microfinance sector for its high interest rates and its drive to achieve profit. The talk was significant because it highlighted two prominent organizations in the sphere with relatively divergent perspectives, further highlighting the diversity of the industry.

Yesterday and today, topics ranged from grants versus investments, scaling social change, market reform versus rebuild, and food security. But perhaps the highlight of my Skoll experience – nay, my year, was listening to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who spoke on a panel with Joe Madiath, Executive Director, Gram Vikas, Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, Founding President and Executive Director, Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc., and Paul Farmer, Founder, Partners In Health. To say the panel, entitled, “Deep Leadership,” was inspirational is a gross understatement. Tutu, who later received the Skoll Global Treasure Award, reminded us all to remain grounded, listen constantly, and always find humor in everything.

As Skoll comes to an end today (a more in-depth post to come), I have been thinking about conference structure in general and how attendees can and should get more out of the experience. I am by no means an expert, but given that there are so many forums throughout the year, and most who are new to the sphere have no idea where to start, here are some tips I’ve gleaned from incredible friends who are far more experienced than I:

  1. Don’t go to every bloody conference. Seriously. Conferences can be extremely expensive. Every year, pick up to three to attend, making sure that each poses tremendous value to you.
  2. Figure out your reason for attending. Before applying or signing up for a conference, ask yourself why you want to go – do you want to learn more about the industry? Are you a social entrepreneur looking for investors or donors? Do you just want to bring more visibility to your organization? Answering that question ensures that you get the most out of the conference you attend, because…
  3. The best part of conferences is the networking. Ok. That might just be my personal opinion. Yes, the conference substance (the panels, speakers, etc.) is very important. But so are the connections you make, which you can leverage for future potential partnerships, investments, and collaborations.
  4. Know your pitch. You meet a lot of people at conferences, and knowing your 10-second “this is who I am, this is what I do, this is why I’m different” elevator speech is essential and allows you to network efficiently.
  5. Business cards. This is an obvious tip, but always have your business cards handy. You will not believe how many times I’ve forgotten mine or run out.
  6. Have 100 conversations. Jonathan Lewis, the founder of Opportunity Collaboration, advised us all during a panel yesterday to have 100 different conversations with people, noting, “out of that 100, you will find at least 10 or even just one person that will be an incredible long-term collaborator, partner, mentor, or investor.” In order to engage someone, he added, tell them one thing about you that they will remember, not ten things no one will remember. Ask them what they do rather than just trying to blurt out exactly what you do – once they start talking, you can find out how to best position yourself in the conversation.
  7. Have fun. Seriously. At Skoll, I’ve had conversations with people about horror films, restaurants, politics, my borderline crazy love for dogs, the list goes on. Relax and enjoy the amazing and interesting people that you meet at these forums. Some of them could become great friends.

Have a tip that I may have forgotten or a question that we could answer? Share it in the comments section. A more in-depth post on Skoll to come.

What a week! Things have been a bit light this week, with all of us quite busy, and Kalsoom jetting off to Oxford for the Skoll World Forum (totally jealous), but here’s a quick round-up of links collected throughout the week. Stay tuned for updates from Kalsoom!

  • The Skoll World Forum is on! Follow the latest on the #skollwf hashtag on Twitter.
  • The BBC World Challenge is open for submissions. Do you know of a business or invention breaking new ground in solving the world’s problems? Nominate them by 19th June! Let’s get some Pakistani entries in there!
  • An interesting look at Tata Power, and their ambitions in addressing the energy needs of India in the coming decades.
  • The Christian Science Monitor covers Asher Hasan and Naya Jeevan in providing healthcare for low income earners. (Also see our previous coverage here.)
  • Kalsoom has been tweeting up a storm with coverage from the Skoll World Forum. Follow her coverage on the thinkchangepak Twitter account!

Have we missed something? Let us know in the comments!


Social Entrepreneurship in the News

  • NextBillion: What aid agencies can do to boost social enterprise
  • The Acumen Fund announced an investment into Sproxil, addressing counterfeit medicine.
  • Ansar Management Company, an Acumen Fund investee, this week laid the bricks for their first housing community for low-income earners. Bryan Farris writes about the ceremony over at Rising Pyramid.

Conferences and Other Happenings

  • DC for Acumen is hosting the “Dignity DC” photo exhibition and auction on March 31st. Tickets can be purchased online.
  • Looking for a job in the social enterprise field? Check out Next Billion’s Career Center for the latest job postings.
  • The Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship is fast approaching! One of our ThinkChange Pakistan editors, Kalsoom will be blogging from the conference, taking place in Oxford, English March 30 – April 1.
  • Fellowship applications are closing soon! PopTech (31st March) and Skoll Awards (27th April).
  • SOCAP/Europe is accepting applications for funding for the upcoming conference (May 30th – June 1st), worth ₤1400

Did we miss anything? Let us know! Follow ThinkChange Pakistan on Facebook and on Twitter for daily updates!

In many regions of the world, social entrepreneurship is taking hold. Latin America is an extremely vibrant example of this phenomenon, and a correlating social capital market is now maturing to keep pace with this growth.

I currently devour all things social enterprise (it’s nutritious). So when my friend Shivani Siroya (founder of the Inventure Fund) told me about the first Latin American Impact Investment Forum, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. Not just because the conference took place in Mexico, (though that was a serious plus given the frigid temperatures in my current city of residence), but because I felt there were some important learning opportunities for those of us currently working and exploring the social enterprise space in Pakistan.

The forum, organized by New Ventures Mexico, took place in Merida, Mexico from February 2 -4, and brought together social entrepreneurs, investors, CSR managers, NGO leaders, and academics working in the region. Some of the partner organizations included the Avina Foundation, the InterAmerican Development Bank, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the World Resources Institute. The agenda was designed to promote investments and partnerships that support initiatives throughout Latin America, addressing topics like green industries and preservation, how to build an impact investment ecosystem, development technologies, and measuring impact. The forum also had several fast pitch sessions – where 10 entrepreneurs looking for partners or investors presented their companies and future projects in just three minutes.

The forum, in short, was incredible. It succeeded in bringing together entrepreneurs and funders into one room and creating a safe environment to exchange ideas. As someone unfamiliar to the space in Latin America, I was wowed by the professionalism and vibrancy of the social entrepreneurs I met, as well as the degree to which the space was indigenous. I met Leticia Jauregui, the co-founder and executive director of CREA, which serves Mexican female-led micro enterprises, focusing primarily on the manufacturing sector of food and handmade products and accessories. CREA not only helps female entrepreneurs scale up their businesses, it also helps bring their goods to market – an important lesson for Pakistan, where we are focused on skill-building but need to also focus on bringing those finished goods to market in order to generate income and create jobs in the long-term.

Hub Oaxaca [part of the global Hub network], which “seeks to establish a space and a network that connects, supports and inspires those with a passion for creating social change in Mexico,” organized a networking lounge during the forum. It brought together investors, entrepreneurs, and other practitioners throughout the conference, facilitating connections and fostering collaboration, (they even drew a map of the world on a glass pane window, where participants could post their business cards and be connected to people doing similar or relevant work).

As someone working with social entrepreneurs and innovative initiatives in Pakistan (I also plan to launch my own social enterprise consultancy this fall), I was inspired by the participants, the collaborative energy, and the overarching social capital movement I witnessed at the Latin American Impact Investing Forum. While the space in Pakistan is still maturing, there is a similar need to explore these ideas and truly create a sense of community among social entrepreneurs. Moreover, there is also a need to drive a social capital market, either from outside investors or from the investment community within Pakistan.

Via our handy TC-P glossary (*cough* shameless plug *cough*), impact investments are those that aim to solve social or environmental challenges while generating financial profit. According to the Monitor Institute, the total size of this impact investment market is estimated to be around $50 billion. As the value of social entrepreneurship continues to percolate within Pakistan, there should also be a paralleled move to push investors into this space, delivering capital to these enterprises to then achieve and maximize their impact among the poor. We are watching this happen in other regions of the world, like Latin America. It is time to at least start that same conversation in Pakistan.

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