Monday, November 21, 2011

Money Matters, The News: Population, Poverty and Pakistan

Money Matters

Population, poverty and Pakistan

Beyond the squabbling political elite and a noisy television media, there are much more serious issues having widespread consequences that should be at the forefront of Pakistan’s governance. Regrettably, they are not. Subjects like population and poverty–both fairly unmanaged in Pakistan– are the real issues though they stand a tad away from politics and the daily dose of comic relief courtesy the leading political-actors and the many television channels. 

Pakistan’s predicaments with militancy, fragility of economy and natural disasters such as floods of 2010 and 2011 are often discussed and also make headlines even outside the country. But the reality beyond these realities is that there is an even greater threat that gets very little air-time and that this is the sheer numbers of people in Pakistan.
According to official figures the projected population for 2015 is 191 million, up from the current figure of approx 170 million, making Pakistan the sixth most populous nation on earth. By 2050, the population of Pakistan is expected to climb to fourth place in the world, only after China, India and the United States. More people means that the country will require more resources, more food and water, more energy and more jobs. More attention and earnestness from the would-be concerned-for-poor-people political leaders of the country would be required as well.
This is some seriously bad news for a country with its uneventful and unending past and present struggles to provide its people with adequate food, healthcare or education. Malnutrition rates are high and ominously climbing which are often linked to 50 percent of infant and child deaths; there is one doctor – of unknown credentials – for every 1,183 people.
Pakistan’s literacy rate stands at 57 percent which, despite official exaggerations, is amongst the lowest in the world. In the space of allocated budget as a percent of the GDP for education, Pakistan is ranked at 142 on 163 country index; countries like Maldives, Botswana and Djibouti are ranked in top 10.
While the politicos in Pakistan – who allegedly have sleepless nights thinking about ‘gharib awam’ (poor people) – may continue with their unending disagreements on electoral politics, alliances and daily TV display of contempt for each other, analyst believe that Pakistan might be running out of time.
Instability around the borders, unmanageable law and order situation in the leading economic hubs of Pakistan have and will continue to impact the economic activities in the country, presenting a very instable and grim outlook about the place and people to the outside world. Pakistan is becoming an address ‘to stay away from’ rather than ‘do business with’. In the absence of sane and sensible governance which is more practical and less rhetorical, economic failures and dearth of trust in government policies will continue to drain essential domestic and foreign investments in vital sectors. Experts believe that there is increasing evidence that investment in education, health and women’s empowerment coupled with slower population growth can contribute hugely towards poverty reduction. Do Pakistan’s leaders believe the same? Apparently not!
World Population Day - July 11th
On July 11– the World Population Day – the Prime Minister said in a message that it was very important to plan and balance population growth with the country’s resources, equitably and prudently. Interestingly, this is pretty much the same statement which is shared and released by the top seat of governance, year after year. It doesn’t matter if a democratically elected person occupies the seat or an appointee of a dictatorial regime is the incumbent, the lip service remains unchanged. What is said ‘officially’ each year might be enhanced in terms of content by the speech writers in Islamabad, what is done about this challenge is pretty well known and that is NOTHING.
Missing economic activity and the momentum coupled with increasing population continue to strain the resources as well as negatively impact the job market in Pakistan. Experts at leading international economic development institutions believe that even with the best managers at the helm, equipped with all the right resources would require years if not decades to set the path right. Pakistan’s institutions continue to plummet on the indexes of performance and transparency and the able managers continue to be disregarded and sidelined to make way for necessary political appointees of unknown credentials.
Experts believe that poverty, food prices and hunger are inextricably linked: ‘poverty causes hunger and while not every poor person is hungry, almost all hungry people are poor.’ Millions in Pakistan languish with daily hunger and malnourishment because they simply cannot afford to buy sufficiently nutritious food or be able to have adequate resources to grow enough food on their own. What is the state of Pakistan planning for the rapidly increasing number of poor and hungry people in the country is a question which is generally answered with very vague answers.
Leaders can continue to discuss the subject of poverty within the corridors of power, at plush hotels and in grand conferences across the world. After all it is the same issue, urgency of which prompted the leaders to recognise it as Millennium Development Goal No. 1. That was over 11 years ago in 2000. So much for leadership!
The writer is a Karachi-based communication consultant.

Irfan Aamir can be reached at:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Money Matters: Understanding visibility economics

Money Matters

Understanding visibility economics

Monday, November 07, 2011, Zil Hajj 10, 1432 A.H

By Irfan Aamir

When the Harvard University Professor Michael Porter stands up to speak, those fortunate to be around him have no choice but to listen and listen to him very carefully. Professor Porter after all is one of the very few distinguished academics -- in the history of the prestigious institution -- who has been bestowed the title of Harvard University Professor. The professorship recognises “individuals of distinction, working on the frontiers of knowledge and in such a way as to cross the conventional boundaries of the specialties”. Professor Michael Porter, author of 18 books and award winning articles for publications like Harvard Business Review, is the most cited author in business and economics and his work has re-defined the thinking about strategy, competitiveness and economic development. 

Perhaps rightfully, he is called the father of the modern strategy field with his ideas being taught in virtually every business school in the world.

Together with his two very able co-founders, Professor Michael Porter founded and also chairs the AllWorld Network (AWN) based out of Boston, USA. The AWN was established in 2007 by Deirdre CoyleAnne Habiby and Michael Porter at Harvard Business School after many years of promoting entrepreneurship in the developed and developing worlds.

The network has a mission to find and scale all the growth entrepreneurs of the emerging world, creating the largest information system and network of growth entrepreneurs. The AWN ranks fast growing private companies and puts them on the world map, drawing the market to them in new capital and opportunities, what the network calls Visibility Economics TM. The founders believe that the emerging world does not suffer from a capability deficit; it suffers from a visibility deficit. Without visibility, companies can’t get to the scale or prosper, believe advocate Professor Porter and the co-founders of the AWN.

The widespread economic vulnerabilities in the North and South and the ever increasing gap between the unemployed and employed continue to mount societal challenges, especially for struggling economies, making them even more vulnerable to internal and external threats. 

Founders of the network believe that governments are constrained by budget deficits and the corporate sector is contracting due to recession.

Therefore, they will not be able to create additional jobs for an increasing population in developing countries. Economic growth and employment will be driven by private small and medium enterprises.

AWN has the vision of scaling these enterprises by creating a network from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Turkey, South Africa and other countries to interact and exchange business opportunities that enable them to grow. One way this is achieved is through a prestigious Entrepreneurship Summit at Harvard University, which is attended by the top entrepreneurs of privately-held, progressively growing companies from different countries and regions.

AWN’s concept of Visibility Economics TM is rooted in a collective belief that there is plenty of entrepreneurship excellence in developing countries. The challenge, Professor Porter’s team believes is that the world is not aware of its existence. By putting these high-performing growth enterprises on the global radar screen, the network believes it can help them attract capital, talent and customers. The fact that the criteria of AWN Pakistan Fast Growth 25 companies is the same as INC.500 -- the most prestigious ranking of private companies in the world -- gives confidence that Pakistan 25 is a world standard growth enterprise.

AllWorld Pakistan 25 Winners and Partners
with Pakistan Minister for Finance and
 U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter

Pakistan is not known for entrepreneurship due to the constant media coverage of the many security challenges that the country faces. Pakistan 25 broke the AWN record in October 2010, with the largest number of applications in the shortest period of time, highest average revenue per company and growth rate of winning companies at an impressive 81 percent compared to the network’s other countries’ average of 41 percent. This is a clear signal that despite all odds, entrepreneurship and innovation is thriving in Pakistan. The 25 represented only a segment of a large body of entrepreneurs rearing to go and make inroads into the regional and international business space.

AWN has expanded Pakistan 25 to Pakistan Fast Growth 100 which they believe will be a true representation of the diverse economic landscape and its members, the future business ambassadors of Pakistan. The Pakistan 100 applicants will also have the opportunity to compete for Arabia 500, the premier pan-regional ranking of the fast growing private companies. Pakistan Fast Growth 100 entrepreneurs, according to the network, have been invited by the Turkish Prime Minister to Istanbul to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit-- just the kind of visibility that was needed for Pakistan’s private enterprises, believe analysts.

Such is the frequency of not so positive news around uncertain and at times chaotic state of internal affairs of Pakistan that a distant view of the situation evokes nothing but disapproving perceptions. The higher growth rate of Pakistan 25 compared to those in Middle East, Asia and South Africa shows that Pakistan, despite the mounting challenges is still open for business and offers immense investment opportunities to those who are willing to take the long-term view.

The writer is a Karachi-based
communication consultant.

Irfan Aamir can be reached at:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Competitiveness: Competitiveness Support Fund and World Economic Forum to develop a New Sustainable Competitiveness Framework in Pakistan

Competitiveness: Competitiveness Support Fund and World Economic Forum to develop a New Sustainable Competitiveness Framework in Pakistan

Competitiveness Support Fund and World Economic Forum to develop a New Sustainable Competitiveness Framework in Pakistan

CSF and World Economic Forum to develop a New Sustainable Competitiveness Framework in Pakistan

As the world marks 7 billion population count, Pakistan will become the 5th most populace country with 314 million people in 2050 from the current 177 million. Pakistan must prioritize its economic resource for a sustainable growth and economic development, Shahab Khawaja

To measure the impact of sustainability on economic competitiveness, the World Economic Forum and its partner organization in Pakistan, the Competitiveness Support Fund will be working together in developing a new analytical framework – the Sustainable Competitiveness Index (SCI). The SCI takes a long-term approach to highlight factors that could represent vulnerabilities to national competitiveness and productivity in the future.

The Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) established to reposition Pakistan’s Economy on global competitive footing.

Shahab Khawaja, Chief Executive Officer of CSF said, “through its flagship Global Competitiveness Report, World Economic Forum has over the course of the last three decades studied and measured the drivers of national competitiveness, including a wide range of factors such as governance, infrastructure, education, innovation and proper functioning of markets. To supplement this traditional analysis, the new index accounts for elements required to make competitiveness sustainable over the longer run, in economic, social and environmental terms”.

With this new methodology, Pakistan can actually lose 3 to 9 positions on its current position from 118 on the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, Shahab Khawaja added.

The recent events in the last few years have indicated that Pakistan needs to put more focus on its sustainable development efforts, according to analysts, the SCI is extremely important for Pakistan, as it will provide the Government of Pakistan an overview on its long-term sustainable development initiatives.

According to CSF, poor institutional water and disaster management capacity in Pakistan are key indicators which will be addressed by the SCI as its sub-indices focuses on the access to improved drinking water, forest cover change and water stress index.

The SCI maintains almost all of the elements already captured by the Forum’s existing competitiveness work, which are important for both short and longer term objectives, but it also integrates a number of additional concepts, including social cohesion, environmental policy, resources efficiency, management of renewable resources and environmental degradation.

With the goal of contributing to the discourse about the drivers of sustainable competitiveness, and also of encouraging feedback at this early stage that can serve as input for refining and further developing the concept, CSF in cooperation with WEF decided to release the preliminary results of this evolving work in the latest edition of the Global Competitiveness Report 2011.

The SCI currently covers 100 countries, and an analysis of how the results of the Index differs from those of the traditional competitiveness ranking provides a sense of which countries are not only competitive now, but are also preparing well for their future competitiveness.

Sustainable competitiveness is a nascent area of research, and the Forum’s initial work has shown that much of the data measuring the key concepts is not yet available. It will take a multi-year effort to properly capture the concept of sustainable competitiveness through reliable indicators that can be gathered for a large number of countries.

To ensure that this issue is approached in a comprehensive way, the World Economic Forum has created a high-level Advisory Board on Sustainability and Competitiveness to provide guidance and input into the process. The Advisory Board members are drawn from the Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils, representing leaders from government, business, academia and civil society.

The Competitiveness Support Fund is the partner institute in Pakistan for the Global Competitiveness Network of the World Economic Forum. As the partner institute, CSF conducts the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey in Pakistan, a survey implemented globally in over 142 countries worldwide. The results of the Executive Opinion Survey are presented each year in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

To promote competitiveness in Pakistan, CSF disseminates the results of the Global Competitiveness Report and the rankings of Pakistan in order to identify areas where competitiveness can be improved. It also encourages dialogue and debate on competitiveness on Pakistan’s business, government and academic forums.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Global Dignity and the Young Global Leaders

John Hope Bryant: Global Dignity and You

Global Dignity and You

Posted: 10/31/11 06:43 PM ET

Imagine what the world be like -- what would have happened in the global economic crisis, if everyone practiced one simple global golden rule -- dignity for all.
Beyond basic competence and honesty, if every leader believed in and stood behind only one ethic -- Ubuntu.
Ubuntu, which comes from mother South Africa, roughly translates "I am me, because you are you."
What would have happened is simple -- there would have been no global economic crisis.
You see, in order for this global economic crisis to be real, to effect us in the way that it has, there must first have been an obsessive focus on the "me" rather than the "we."
An individualized focus on "what do I get," rather than "what do I have to give."
A personal focus on "getting paid or getting rich," rather than say "building wealth."
These are subtle differences, but differences that in the end make all the difference in the world.
In this crisis, most of us (if we are honest) treated individuals and even clients like transactions rather than relationships. So no wonder things turned out so crappy.
All of these concepts I cover in some depth in Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), but a powerful universal truth like this, just like love, is best described in action.
On October 20th members of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, and other inspired leaders from 50-plus countries around the world, all came together to do precisely that -- and we called it Global Dignity Day 2011.
Global Dignity Day, which is the primary action initiative of the Global Dignity NGO, started out as nothing more than an idea inspired by three friends and then members of the Forum of Young Global Leaders (HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Professor Pekka Himenan of Finland, and myself).
The question was: How can we inspire the world, and world leaders, to think and to lead "differently."


How can we inspire a new commitment to a unifying sense of spirit, and maybe even a spirituality, without getting bogged down in differences around religion?
At a time when the world doesn't seem to agree on much, we believed that nearly 7 billion people on the planet could agree on one thing -- they all wanted more dignity. That bet seems to be working.
On October 20th, leaders from countries around the world -- from South Africa to South America, to South Central (Los Angeles, California), and from Southern Turkey to the South of France and beyond -- all came together, standing for one thing -- our dignity. In so doing, they were also helping the world to highlight our fascinating similarities, instead of our rather bland and uninteresting differences.
As leaders since the beginning of time have continuously all pointed out -- we are all in this together.
This was the powerful message delivered during the first ever Global Dignity Forum in Helsinki, Finland on October 19th, produced by our friend and brother Professor Pekka Himanen, and featuring the likes of HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, along with Nobel Laureates Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, as well as Pekka and myself. And it was fantastic seeing a stadium-size facility filled with leaders cheering "dignity for all," and not simply a popular sports game, or worse, the mindless debasing of our humanity that seems to draw crowds far too often these days.


This was a global message further amplified by our Global Dignity country and city chairs from around the world, including Ms. Christina Lopes (Brazil); Ms. Jennifer Corriero (Canada); Prof. Pekka Himanen (Finland); Mr. Christopher Logan (Hong Kong); Mr. Malvinder Singh (India); Ms. Veronica Colondam (Indonesia); Mr. Silverius Unggul (Indonesia); Mr. Alvaro Rodriguez Arregui (Mexico); Mr. Ganhuyag Ch. Hutagt (Mongolia); Mr. Erik Charas (Mozambique); Ms. Osayi Alile Oruene (Nigeria); HKH Crown Prince Haakon (Norway); Mr. Jacek Olechowski (Poland); Ms. Penny Low (Singapore); Ms. Phuti Malabie (South Africa); Mr. Murat Sarayli (Turkey); Amir Jahangir (Pakistan) and myself (U.S.), amongst many others.
And then there was the song. That SONG. That Global Dignity song, produced by Dave Stewart and performed by Nadirah X, released on October 20th, 2011, and now shared with and around the world as a free-global download.

Wow, is the only descriptor of how this song moves and inspires in the same breath, in the same universal language, all around the world.
One of my mentors and life inspirations, the icon Quincy Jones, once told me that music was probably the original language.
That every song was rooted in 12 core musical notes.
That people relate to and are inspired by music, when nothing else seems to work, and even when they do not understand the root language.
The music, moves the human spirit towards unification.
Music saves us from ourselves, and dignity makes us more of ourselves.
I think I will just end the same way I started here, in mother South Africa, singing... "Ubuntu -- I am me, because you are you."
Days like October 20th, 2011, restore my hope in society, faith in our shared humanity, and belief in our future, through the eyes of our children.
Onward and with hope.
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of "Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass)," and a Member of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum.
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