Imran Khan

One of OPEN’s goals has all along been to support businesses in Pakistan in a manner consistent with our core principles of staying “Hungry and Foolish” with respect to entrepreneurism. OPEN chapters have historically gone out of their way to assist Pakistani businesses efforts to gain traction in the US and global markets.  We started off by assisting those Pakistani businessmen visiting the US, as we were busy establishing ourselves. We, then with the assistance of MIT Enterprise Forum, started the MITEFP-OPEN Business Acceleration Plan competition in Karachi Pakistan. This allowed us to gain traction with the young and budding entrepreneurs their. There were some hesitancy within OPEN about opening a chapter in Pakistan as some other similar organizations did not do as well due to lack of right kind of leadership needed. The winners of BAP competition showed us that there is a new breed of Pakistani businessmen who have the credentials and zest who could be worked with.

The writeup below was written by one of the member of the OPEN Karachi Chapter that was recently inaugurated.

Rabia Garib

It was the Worst of Times, ’twas the Best of Times

Such are often the words often used by businesses operating in Pakistan. Amidst the geopolitical crisis that has plagued Pakistan since forever, the past 3 years or so have seen a constant rise of buzzwords such as “entrepreneurship”, “Start-ups”, “Business Plans” and “Angel Investment”. Despite the turbulent times, companies that have been driven by IT have continued to thrive.

On the other side of the world, Pakistanis working through OPEN’s 7 chapters across the US, have been working through associations and individuals through one connection or another, trying to figure out what the temperament and potential on the ground really is. An increase in the amount of information being sent out of Pakistan through websites and blogs has helped to raise the profiles of many companies, but there really was a growing need to have a more “intimate” presence.

That’s why the turnout to the launch event of OPEN Karachi, OPEN’s first presence outside North America, was attended with such fervor. Getting some of Pakistan’s major IT players to sync their calendars isn’t an easy task, but here’s the thing: if the cause matters, Pakistan’s best make it happen.

The decision to set up OPEN’s first international chapter in Karachi couldn’t have been an easy one, but considering Karachi contributes almost 70% of the total GDP, is the financial capital of country and houses the bulk of the gateways to the region and rest of the world, it makes sense. There are more corporate gatherings in Karachi as compared to the rest of the country and the number of IT-run businesses are probably larger in number here, than elsewhere.

Having a chapter in Karachi helps the associations across North America to fill in another puzzle on a map of opportunity. That’s why one of the mandates OPEN Karachi has is to raise the awareness of local organizations and opportunities to the other Chapters. Raise the profile of the Pakistani companies who have achieved their peak, so to speak, in the local ‘ecosystem’ and allow them to collectively benefit being part of OPEN.

Packaging more intelligent messages about actual work being done in Pakistan, mentoring students and businesses and establishing collaborative projects between organizations and institutions in Pakistan and those in North America. There is a lot that has to be done, and a combination of experienced professionals with young and vibrant members of OPEN Karachi will hopefully get the ball rolling quickly.

But starting up an Chapter with the track record and profile of OPEN is also not an easy task. There is a great deal of work to be done and a lot many activities and opportunities for interaction to add onto what is usually a really heavy national event calendar. Only once the groundwork has been done from our side, will we be able to allow local companies to really benefit what OPEN Global has to offer.

Please watch this space for more updates from the OPEN Karachi team.

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