Pakistan

Working in the social sector, organizations like SIL are often tackling humongous challenges that need immediate redressal. From problems of access to quality healthcare and education to issues of gender inequality and access to livelihoods, the tasks we take upon ourselves are often gargantuan and overpowering. In the midst of this, every instance of time feels like an opportunity that can not be missed and must be filled to the brim with persistence and promise.

The last three years at SIL have been exactly that -- a constant struggle to do more, and more, better than before, the best we can, to make a tiny dent in this skewed socio-economic framework that affects over 70% of the world's population. We recently did our first exhaustive lean data collection across the 70+ startups that have been incubated by the Hatchery, our flagship incubator. Much to our surprise, the impact figures are significant, and say a lot about the potential of youth social entrepreneurship when it comes to creating actual meaningful change in the lives of the poorest of the poor.

Across over seven sub-sectors, SIL's social entrepreneurs have directly benefitted 4.37 million lives. The indirect benefit, even according to conservative measures, is over 20 million lives. We found that the majority of this impact resides the domain of education and health, two key priority areas highlighted as pain points by most impact investors worldwide, including Acumen. We also noted that the scale of the impact increased drastically with the insertion of technology platforms into the enterprise, e.g. an app or a web platform, proving that technology is indeed a great enabler of social enterprise. As part of our research projects, SIL also recently carried out a nation-wide social enterprise survey to understand the local eco-system better. To our collective pleasant surprise, Pakistan; despite its numerous issues and bureaucratic hurdles; is primed for social entrepreneurship and is an incredibly fruitful market for such ventures, with approximately 448,000 social enterprises and social good businesses running in the country at the moment. What is also interesting to note is that social enterprises outlasted regular SMEs in longevity. Adding to this, it was observed that the social enterprise sector has five times the amount of women in leadership positions as compared to the corporate and SME world, and that these women are likely to hire more women.

Stepping back, though, what do these numbers really say? And what does it mean for the future of organizations like SIL? We feel that for organizations like us, it is important to track the day to day impact that is being made by our work and celebrate the smaller victories. It is also critical to understand the trends we dealing with and map needs with solutions, so as to maximize our overall impact. Additionally, it is crucial to understand that everything we're working towards requires us to take a holistic, systems thinking approach, which keeps in mind the moving parts and their individual solar systems, but also the way these parts interact with one another and contribute to the larger universe of the social and development sector. Keeping these three points in mind, SIL is confident that social entrepreneurship and youth leadership can play a tremendously significant role in tackling socio-economic and political injustices the world over, while having the audacity to reimagine pre-existing economic paradigms such as capitalism and venture finance. Our hope is to be able to find balance within this system and play our part in restoring the equilibrium that certain patterns of hyper production and consumption have offset.

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