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TEDx Karachi Draws 500 Pakistanis

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a U.S. based private non-profit foundation that is best known for its conferences, now held in Europe and Asia as well as the U.S., devoted to what it calls "ideas worth spreading." Its lectures, called TED Talks distributed through the Internet, are subject to an eighteen-minute time limit. Speakers are an eclectic mix of people with ideas representing a wide cross section of humanity.

TED is run by Chris Anderson, a Pakistani-born Oxford-educated journalist, who recently returned to the land of his birth to launch TEDx Karachi conference. Organized by Dr. Awab Alvi, aka Teethmaestro, and others, the theme of the Karachi conference held on June 4, 2010 was "What Pakistan Needs Now". Chris Anderson, Curator, TED, Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder/CEO, Acumen Fund, Roshaneh Zafar, Founder/CEO, Kashf Foundation, Asad Umar, CEO, Engro, Monis Rahman, Founder/CEO, Naseeb Networks, Asad Rezzvi, CEO, e-Cube Global and Joshinder Chaggar, Theater Artist. It was attended by a very diverse crowd of 500 people.



According to reports from a number of citizen journalists who attended the conference, Chris talked about the power of the technology and connectivity to transform lives in the developing world. He expects that ubiquitous cell phones will have all the capabilities to connect to the Internet in the developing world. Ubiquitous Internet access combined with online applications and videos will help change how most of us learn, play, think, act and contribute to society.

Some of what Chris talked about is already happening via YouTube. Though it was not mentioned by him, an example of it is the Khan Academy, established by a Pakistani-American Salman Khan in Silicon Valley, which uses Youtube videos to teach a variety of subjects ranging from math to science to personal finance. Availability of these videos via cell phones will enhance opportunities for teaching a much larger number of young people.

TEDx Karachi featured Asad Umar of Engro Power, an appropriate choice in the midst of a major energy crisis requiring creative solutions in Pakistan. Engro is working on clean power plant using flared gas, a CDM project, to produce 225 MW power. In addition, there is a 1200 MW coal-fired plant being built by Engro using Thar coal. Umar believes only 4% of Pakistan's vast Thar coal reserves could take care of all of Pakistan's current energy needs at significantly lower cost.

Monis Rahman, the founder of Naseeb social network as the first US VC-funded company in Pakistan, presented his idea of using the vast network the 90 million cell phones as a job search tools. His company also runs rozee.pk, a job posting site.

Roshanneh Zafar of Kashf Foundation spoke about the work of her foundation funded by the Acumen Fund. Kashf is focused on microfinance to help enable and empower women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. As blogger Nuruddin Abjani who heard her speak put it: "she was one of the most passionate about Pakistan and how she is changing it with her foundation and how each one of us can. She got everyone teary-eyed when she sang the National Anthem and everyone stood and joined her - AS ONE! She showed how ONE person could make ALL the difference in the world. And she is SO DAMN RIGHT! If only we could UNDERSTAND!"

Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund, who happens to be Chris Anderson's wife, spoke last with an urgent call for action. She asked, "If not now, when? If not us, who?" As an example, she mentioned the work of Tasneem Siddiqui in "Khuda Ki Basti", a low-cost housing project to deal with the housing crunch from growing rural-to-urban migration in Karachi, and the second similar project now underway in Lahore.

TEDx Karachi is expected to be just the first of many more TEDx events planned in Pakistan to encourage new ideas and inspire Pakistanis to act by finding and implementing creative solutions to address many of their nation's problems. It is in the best spirit of lighting candles instead of cursing darkness.

Related Links:

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Views: 18

Tags: Action, Anderson, Ideas, Inspiration, Karachi, Pakistan, TEDx

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 1, 2011 at 9:02am

Here are some excerpts from Forbes cover story (Dec 19, 2011) on venture money for Pak entrepreneurs:

Novogratz plays the role of auditor because, as CEO and founder of the Acumen Fund, helping people starts with financial due diligence. In April Acumen sank $1.9 million into the bank (National Rural Support Programme Bank in Pakistan) in exchange for an 18% stake, one small investment in a decadelong experiment in charitable giving. Instead of shoveling aid dollars to causes or governments that give away life-­sustaining goods and services, Acumen espouses investing money wisely in small-time entrepreneurs in the developing world who strive to solve problems, from mosquito netting to bottled water to affordable housing. It’s a new twist on the old adage about teaching a man to fish, except that Novogratz wants to build an entire fish market.
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Acumen has given Pakistani farmers the ability to access cash at credit card rates, versus the loan shark terms of before—a staggering 125,000 clients have tapped the bank for $30 million in new credit this year. Novogratz’s infusion has also allowed the bank to take deposits for the first time, introducing the idea of savings, and 6% interest rates, to a community that has been locked in poverty for centuries. Since April 10,000 farmers have deposited $7 million in the bank, which of course has resulted in yet more loans.
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Weeks later Novogratz fortuitously got two anonymous gifts of $500,000 each and took her first trip to Pakistan in January 2002. Acumen has since invested $13 million there in 12 businesses: Ansaar Management Co. (affordable housing), Kashf Foundation (microlending to women) and Micro Drip (agricultural irrigation), among them. She has also collected $2.7 million from 40 Pakistani donors and traveled to that country 20 times, turning one of the most volatile, anti-American populations into a vibrant experiment in alleviating poverty.
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That’s why I find myself in a rural village 10 miles outside the city of Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city. Novogratz has come to check on another investment—and to collect the precious data she hopes to use in new fundraising. Here on 20 acres, Saiban, a nonprofit developer, has built homes for an eventual 450 Pakistani families, most of whom earn $2 to $4 a day. The $4,000 units are 85% occupied. You see the occasional motorcycle parked in front, where a few women mill about, talking or hanging laundry.
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These aren’t the answers Novogratz is fishing for. She wants to hear examples of people using their homes as collateral to get college loans for their children or amassing a better dowry for their daughters so they can marry into a more prosperous family. She wraps up the meeting. “So, the next time I come, you’re going to have some good metrics for me? ’Cause this is my challenge for the world.” Someone says, “Inshallah [God willing].”

Novogratz smiles, but shakes her head: “Not inshallah. We’re going to do it!”
....

http://www.forbes.com/sites/helencoster/2011/11/30/novogratz/4/

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 14, 2012 at 10:55pm

With a world cost of living index (wcol) of just 46 relative to 100 for New York City, Karachi is the cheapest city among 131 cities in the world, according to a survey reported by Economic Intelligence Unit today.

http://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?activity=reg&camp...

Here's a WSJ report on it:

Moving to Singapore? Start saving: The city-state is one of most expensive cities in the world – 42% more expensive than New York – topping London, Frankfurt and Hong Kong.

The Southeast Asian city joins Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe as one of the world’s top ten most expensive cities, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual cost-of-living survey, increasingly proving that Asian cities are no longer just a cheaper outpost for expats and multinationals. Though a European city – Zurich – is still the world’s most expensive, Tokyo was the runner up, with Singapore now listed as the world’s 9th most expensive city. Singapore was listed as the 6th most expensive last year, but remarkably was ranked 97th in 2001.

The survey uses prices of goods and services such as food, transportation, housing, utilities, private schools and domestic help to calculate scores for each city, using New York as its base with a score of 100. Zurich and Tokyo scored 170 and 166, respectively, indicating that they are about 70% and 66% more expensive to live in than New York.

Australian cites, too, were well-represented on the list by Sydney (No. 7) and Melbourne (No. 8, though at least it can claim it makes up for the cost in livability). While Japan has long been known as an expensive place to live — Tokyo’s gas prices are 71% higher than New York’s — the emergence of Australia and Singapore on the list is a more recent phenomenon.

Singapore’s rise is notable, since less than a decade ago it was considered a cheap city by Western standards. Just last year, a kilo of bread would have cost US$2.86, according to the Economist’s data, but now costs US$3.19 – an 11% increase from the year before.

The rise of home prices and basic goods in the city-state has for years been a sticking point for many disgruntled Singaporeans, many of whom say government policies to allow more rich expatriates to move to the city has helped push up the cost of living. In recent months, the government has put in place various cooling measures to address high property prices, which are slowly coming down.

Jon Copestake, editor of the survey, cited exchange-rate movement as “the main driver of cost-of-living growth in Singapore, relative to other cities.” The Australian cities rose for the same reason: The Australian dollar rose sharply in value last year, which helped push its two biggest cities up the charts.

Asia is also home to the world’s cheapest places to live, particularly in South Asia. Karachi, Pakistan, came in 131st out of 131 cities, with a score of 46. This makes it three times cheaper than Singapore. Also in the bottom 10: Mumbai; New Delhi; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. India and Pakistan’s cheap labor and land costs are making the area “attractive to those bargain-hungry visitors or investors willing to brave some of the security risks that accompany such low prices,” the survey said.

http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2012/02/14/singapore-among-worlds-...

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