Social entrepreneurship is the fastest growing field in the world. This concept has not yet arrived at a full understanding in Pakistan, where social, economic and environmental problems are increasing year after year. In this situation Social entrepreneurship can offer the right inspiration to government, private sector, NGOs, academia and young people to build homegrown solutions to various social problems of the society.

Social entrepreneurship can be defined as an alternative business model that produces social, financial and environmental value and outcomes and aims at addressing social problems. It provides the society with new and innovative solutions for social transformation. It often leads to positive changes in the social, political and economic aspects of low-income and under-served families. Social entrepreneurship builds new social arrangements and mobilises untapped resources in response to the public failures.

Pakistan has massive untapped potential, especially with reference to its youth, which can be utilised for people’s benefit through social entrepreneurship . According to statistics from UNICEF, the country has one of the world’s major youth bulges, with 35 percent of the total population aged 15 years or under. In the coming decades, Pakistan is expected to be one of the few countries where the working population will exceed the number of retirees. But still, the country is struggling with a major problem: It has one of the world’s largest populations of young men and women who are not aware of opportunities to invest their potential.

At the moment, Pakistan is going through enormous change, as exemplified by the democratic transfer of power and rapid population growth and these changes present opportunities for social entrepreneurs to help society.

While it may be an unfamiliar concept for many engaged in local grassroots businesses they can nevertheless see the potential of engaging in ventures which have a social impact. A new wave of creative and confident young entrepreneurs has emerged developing innovative start ups in areas such as environment, health and skills. Scores of young women and men from remote areas of Pakistan are becoming social entrepreneurs.

A longstanding lack of investment in Pakistan’s public sector has prompted local business leaders to invest in ideas which tackle issues such as water and sanitation problems as well as those which can address its energy and environmental concerns.

Social entrepreneurs in Pakistan face problems such as market access and financial constraints, which are common worldwide. However, they also struggle to tackle significant hurdles such as petty corruption and the government’s apathy.

The Pakistani social entrepreneurs had a real desire for the government to engage. The state has to remove these barriers completely. Pakistan need three million jobs each year and a seven to eight percent growth rate to create these jobs. All of this will not be possible unless the government improves the climate for economic activity.

Pakistani entrepreneurs and innovators have risen from a situation that looks fairly bleak. Each day, a large number of Pakistani youth are told by Western media that they can only harbor negative potential, and that positivity from Pakistan is more of a surprise than expectation. In such an atmosphere, the pressure is even greater for them to try and prove their worth in a highly globalised market. Poverty and lack of a modern educational curriculum are also two of the many underlying factors that contribute to this sense of despair.

But regardless of all these odds stacked heavily against them, young Pakistanis have proven themselves to be far more successful, productive and innovative than many of their Asian and Western counterparts. The implementation and adaptation of new ideas inventions is slowly lifting the misleading fog over the country’s international profile, but a lot still needs to be done before Pakistan’s true potential is realised. In a generally hostile environment, nothing is a better idea for the youth of the country than to become as self-sufficient and independent as possible and successful entrepreneurship is as certain a way of doing that as any.

While it is commendable that the state infrastructure has made room for ambitious up-and-coming enterprises, the government needs to do much more before the fear of losing a steady pay check gives way to confidence in Pakistan’s youth to go all in on their own. Providing easy loans to entrepreneurs with solid plans, working on developing more start-up incubators with experts to guide them, and providing tax exemptions to nascent companies are a few of the steps the government could take.

The author is a freelance writer based in

Lahore and one can reach by email: