Mr. Amjad Pervez is an entrepreneur par excellence with 35 years of experience and has been residing in the UK for nearly 5 decades. He is associated with many fields such as food, healthcare, education etc and has a history of working in the international trade and development business.
Last year he was awarded Honorary Fellowship of Bradford College, in recognition of his services to the city of Bradford and the National Industrial Policy of the UK. And just this month he has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bradford for his valuable and outstanding contributions to the city of Bradford, to the university and for internationally championing the culture of enterprise.
However Pakistan remains very close to his heart, and he is keen to see it progress economically. For that he is trying his utmost to create an ‘Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ here (something he has been working on for many years in the UK). Being the Chairman of JumpStart Pakistan, and with the help and support of his excellent team, as well as a local and global network of stakeholders and partners, he is very hopeful of achieving that target.
Recently House of Pakistan had the opportunity of speaking to him to learn more about JumpStart and all his other activities.
Q1. What is the vision behind JumpStart Pakistan?
Ans: JumpStart Pakistan began in 2014. It is the brainchild of Khurram Mujtaba who is the current CEO and founder. Initially it only focused on Startups, but when I joined in 2016 it was my proposal that SMEs and larger companies should be included to create a true national ecosystem. This was then adopted by our policy think tank.
It’s an open source project now operating at a national level. The aim is not only just to help someone start a business, or job creation but to actually come up with ways of providing solutions to the problems that the common people are facing through entrepreneurship, because an ‘entrepreneur’ can creatively solve problems. So we want to embed ‘entrepreneurship’ in the DNA of the nation.
We believe that Pakistan has the resources, human capital and willing investors; all it needs is a ‘Jumpstart’ to set it into motion towards prosperity. And ‘entrepreneurship’ is the key to bring that prosperity as well as change in the country.
Q2. What is an ‘Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’?
Ans: A network of individuals, businesses and academic institutes that would work together to encourage or implement ‘entrepreneurship’ in a region. They are known as entrepreneurship stakeholders.
Q3. What has JumpStart Pakistan achieved so far?
Ans: It has
- More than a 100 investors and mentors
- More than 200 problems have been addressed
- 20, 000 knowledge seekers
- 100 SMEs on board
- 3 of its startups have represented Pakistan in Switzerland
Furthermore it has facilitated promotion of entrepreneurship, built a positive image of Pakistan internationally and has attracted investors. This has been achieved through L.I.F.T (Learning, Innovation, Funding, Technology) Pakistan Conference which has become the Brand Ambassador of JumpStart. This year it was held in Rawalpindi/Islamabad in November. The theme was ‘Entrepreneurship – The Only Viable Economic Plan for Pakistan’. It featured:
- 500 startups
- 50 universities
- 200 SMEs
- 1500 delegates from around the world
Q4. What is the next five-year plan for JumpStart?
Ans: We have this tendency to keep things to ourselves and don’t have the concept of ‘sharing’. So the key is to ‘collaborate’. Thereby we want global experts to come to Pakistan, in order for a transfer of knowledge and skills to take place. We have our own Pakistanis specialists working in various fields, in 30 different countries.
We also need to go into the universities and find young minds, create a national forum of thinkers so that there can be a knowledge pool. We should challenge the old style of education and introduce innovative methods of teaching. To be able to ‘unlearn what you have learnt’ or ‘learning throughout life’ that is the way forward in this fast and ever changing world today.
Furthermore we should empower young people across the world. For this we need to create a ‘Global Virtual Hub’. This is a web based platform where anyone with a business idea or a business problem could virtually seek help and support. It also acts as means of connectivity, for instance it could help Pakistan liaise with lucrative global markets and provide an ease of trade with other countries, hence our economy could benefit immensely.
Q5. Could you tell us about your food ventures?
Ans: I am the founder of ‘Seafresh’ which I set up in 1990. The first in Europe that provides a complete catering business solution; supplying food products to the catering and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, take away and fast food. It is also involved in global supply management, storage, packaging and distribution. Under its umbrella is ‘Adams Fast Food’ which was established in 1995. It is one of the largest Cash & Carry in the UK, and is operating in 7 major cities. The most recent one was just inaugurated on 13th December in Birmingham.
Q6. You also run a school?
Ans: Yes I am the chairman of ‘Rainbow School’ which is a free primary school in Bradford run by a not-for-profit Trust. The major objective was to provide education to the diverse communities of Bradford of which Pakistanis form about 30 percent. So the name ‘Rainbow’ signifies diversity. It was initiated in 2012, and today there are 400 pupils. Since it has done really well in the past 6 years, there are plans of opening more school in the near future.
Q7. What is your involvement in the healthcare sector in the UK and do you have any plans for Pakistan?
Ans: At the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; I am the Non-Executive Director and my responsibility is to ensure that the executive team delivers its agreed strategic objectives in a constructive and professional manner to seek assurance on behalf of the public. I am also the Chairman of the Big Projects committee, which has to analyze the business case of major projects for the Trust.
Just recently Professor John Wright who is my colleague and a prominent health researcher at the University of Bradford was here in Pakistan to initiate a joint research study, the first of its kind, relating to several diseases.
I want Pakistan to develop a research oriented approach in various fields, that’s why I am facilitating Professor Wright’s involvement with various universities and institutes here, so that they may learn from his expertise.
Q8. Lastly, what words of advice would you give to the Youth of Pakistan?
- Create an inquisitive critical thinking mindset
- Be prepared to learn new things every moment of your lives
- Get out of the “wage cage” mentality and into an entrepreneurial mindset
- Have a value system that cares for all humanity thus don’t be afraid of tackling big global issues
- Success is journey of a lifetime not a shortcut
- Know who you are (khudi) and in shaa Allah you will become leaders of mankind