“There is an abundance of talent in the Pakistani youth; they just don’t have the opportunities to fully utilize their potential”. How many times have you heard this quote? And to be honest, I’m really tired of hearing it all the time. First of all, identifying the problem and then just leaving it there isn’t really going to help anyone. Indeed we do have a lot of potential in our youth, and better opportunities would definitely help make productive use of their abilities. But if you are truly passionate for this cause, then do something about it! Secondly, some of the best entrepreneurs or leaders in the world didn’t have it so easy either. In fact most of them had to go through a lot of hardships, inconveniences and societal difficulties to get where they are now. Similarly, in this list we look at some of Pakistan’s youngest entrepreneurs and leaders who have managed to achieve a lot, by doing everything on their own from scratch. And it is only a coincidence that the list is dominated by females.

1-   Khalida Brohi

When Khalida was 16, she witnessed the honor killing    of a close friend who had chosen to marry someone of her own choice without her family’s approval. This experience inspired her to establish the Sughar Empowerment Society, a nonprofit social enterprise in Pakistan dedicated towards providing tribal and rural women opportunities to grow their skills as well as learn leadership skills so that they may be able to survive and be independent on their own.

2-    Amir Rao

Amir is the Co-founder of Supergiant Games and co-creator of the action role-playing video game Bastion, which has sold over 2.2 million copies since 2011 and won multiple awards at multinational competitions. He was featured in Forbes top 30 under 30 tech entrepreneurs of 2014.

3-   Noorain Khan

Noorain Khan is a Rhodes scholar, a SOROS Fellow at Yale Law School, and specializes in M&A, Corporate Governance, debt offerings and funds practice at Fords Foundation. Before joining Ford in 2015, Noorain was chief of staff to Wendy Kopp, CEO and co-founder of Teach for All, a global network of independent social enterprises working to expand educational opportunity in their countries by enlisting talented future leaders to the effort. She’s travelled abroad with the US State Department to speak about Islam in the U.S. Former stints at Goldman Sachs, Google and the Department of Justice.

4-   Nabiha Syed

Nabiha Syed, 28, is considered one of the best emerging free speech lawyers at the moment. She’s part of the team representing the Guardian U.S. in their ongoing national security reporting. While looking at her portfolio, I realized that it will be impossible to fit all of her achievements and experience into a small description, so I’m just going to highlight the main ones. She attended the University Of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar; she’s done her Doctorate of Law from Yale, and was awarded the Second Decade Society Award and the Ripon-Clinger Fellowship at John-Hopkins University and is a former First Amendment Fellow in the New York Times Company’s legal department. She is the co-founder at Drone U, an educational platform explaining drone integration into civilian airspace.

5-   Sidra Qasim

Sidra is a young entrepreneur who is the co-founder of a Pakistani shoe selling company Markhor. Markhor is pretty much a win-win situation for all those involved in the project. The company provides employment for people in rural areas who have talent but have no place to make productive use of it. The company makes use of these people as they make shoes and then these shoes are sold to an international market. Last year, Markhor raised $107,000 through a kickstarter campaign and in June, delivered 700 orders to customers across 35 different countries.  

6-   Sheeba Najmi

Sheeba has done her MS from Stanford University and started her professional career as a reporter in a Pakistani satellite channel. Sheeba Najmi is now the founder of “Tech for Change”. Tech for Change is a non-profit organization that works to eliminate civic and social problems of Pakistan by bringing entrepreneurs, developers and designers together. This talented young lady has also worked as the lead designer of Yahoo mail for several years.

7-   Kalsoom Lakhani

Kalsoom is the CEO of invest to innovate (i2i) a company that recognizes and trains budding entrepreneurs. Kalsoom is also a member of World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers. Not only this, this talented graduate from George Washington University is also the founder of CHUP (changing Up Pakistan) that aims to create awareness regarding different issues of Pakistan.

8-   Muhammad Adnan Butt

Muhammad Adnan Butt, an engineer from Ghulam Ishaq Khan University, is the founder of Mvergence Media, one of the most creative agencies operating in Pakistan that offers marketing solutions and social network application development. He is also the founder of Walnut Media, another media and PR company. Going from an engineer to a successful entrepreneur, Adnan is a living example of the fact that innovation and determination towards your cause can lead you anywhere.     

9-   Gulraiz Khan

Gulraiz Khan is a graduate in Economics from LUMS and a self-made entrepreneur. He is the founder of café Samovar Coffee and Tea House, an outdoor café at Karachi’s port. The aim of the café is to link open spaces perfect for stimulating discussion with the feeling of travelling. His café helped him bag the top prize at the Shell Tameer Awards, which are awards that recognize young Pakistani entrepreneurs and their successes. 

10-         Fiza Farhan

Fiza is the Chief Executive of Buksh Foundation, a microfinance institution aimed at poverty alleviation, enterprise creation, women empowerment and uplifting the general living standards of the underprivileged. The foundation has trained many women as energy entrepreneurs; they’ve brought solar powered lights to thousand of rural households, and their clean energy loans have been extended to 12,000 entrepreneurs. Fiza Farhan holds an MSc. in Management from Warwick Business School and has done her Bachelors in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).