Case Studies

Sara, Enterprise Challenge Pakistan

8th March 2024

Sixteen-year-old Sara is sowing seeds of change with her ingenious business idea of plantable pencils, and is blazing a trail for others to follow. In 2024, she received the Regional Young Achiever Award for Asia.

Sara is a keen artist who uses sign language to communicate. As a young Deaf student in Pakistan, her goal is to change perceptions about the role that girls, women and people with (perceived) disabilities can play in business and public life – both areas where they have traditionally been excluded.

Despite facing many external barriers due to her disability and gender, Sara’s greatest obstacle used to be her own self-doubt. Not any more. The Enterprise Challenge Pakistan programme (ECP) has given Sara the chance to build her confidence, broaden her horizons and unleash her capabilities, so that she can pursue her dreams.

‘I am a powerful girl and I can do whatever I set my mind to,’ Sara declares, passionately.


Transformation and aspiration

Sara explains that taking part in the programme dramatically changed her outlook on life.

Enterprise Challenge transformed my ambitions,’ she recalls. ‘ECP really opened up my mind and helped me identify the steps to success and independence…Now, I see myself being able to live life on my own terms.’

Enterprise Challenge Pakistan is an inter-school business competition aimed at developing young people’s entrepreneurship skills. A joint initiative from Prince’s Trust International and SEED Ventures, the programme was offered in almost 100 schools in 2022/23 including, for the first time, a school for Deaf students.

Enterprise Challenge enables students to learn practical business skills through coaching, mentoring and an online business simulation game. As part of the programme’s hands-on approach to learning, teams of teenagers also design, develop and pitch their own business idea – concentrating on enterprises with a positive social and environmental impact.

The teams with the strongest pitches compete against other schools in a public competition, presenting to a judging panel of business and industry leaders.


Cultivating confidence

In her role as team leader, Sara developed and practised skills ranging from financial planning to effective delegation and, of course, presentation. And as she honed her leadership, organisation and communication capabilities, her confidence blossomed too.

At the regional finals, Sara’s team presented their concept of seeded pencils that can be planted instead of binned once they become too small to draw or write with. The pencils themselves then grow into vegetables, herbs or tree saplings.

‘It is a simple idea that is good for the environment and offers a solution for individuals to grow their own food,’ Sara explains.

Before taking part in the programme, Sara had felt intimated by the idea of launching her own project. But the practical experience of designing a plan and presenting it to industry leaders gave her the chance to build her skills and prove her capabilities – both to herself and to others, providing a roadmap for turning her innovative idea into a reality.

‘With ECP, it’s been amazing to see what is possible in a short amount of time,’ she says, ‘Imagine what we could achieve in a year!’


Claiming the right to contribute

Today, when Sara presents her ideas in public, people pay attention. She is a persuasive and engaging communicator.

‘Sara is an inspiration to us all,’ says Maha Salman, Enterprise Challenge Programme Manager with SEED Ventures. ‘She has a clear vision and the determination to achieve it. When she presented her idea using sign language, the entire room was captivated by her passion and conviction. She truly embodies the fearless and unstoppable spirit that we hope to foster in all of our participants.’

‘It’s high time that our society realises that women and girls are fully capable of being leaders, and encourages us accordingly,’ says Sara. ‘We can earn, pursue our goals and contribute to the betterment of our society.’

‘It’s not just about empowering women, but about creating a more equitable world for everyone,’ she adds. ‘Instead of waiting for others to change the narrative, we need to work hard to assert our space within the business and public spheres, and pave the way for future generations.’

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