KARACHI: More than 400 students packed the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) auditorium during a session in Karachi. They were eager to interact with Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group and discuss social innovation, entrepreneurship and inclusive growth in Pakistan.
This is an important theme for Pakistan and one particularly relevant to the country’s young population. Nearly two-thirds of Pakistan’s population is 24 years old or under. This represents an unprecedented opportunity as young Pakistanis can greatly contribute to growth and development.
Citing the devastating impact of stunting, Kim said: “Pakistan has to scale up investment in its people starting with the pregnant woman and focusing especially on youth, to ensure every Pakistani can learn, grow, and participate fully in the digital economy of the future”.
Going digital is critical for youth to enable them to tap into the potential of the globalized world that has changed the way labour markets are working at an international level. Pakistan has an estimated 3-4 million youth taking advantage of global connectivity and digital economy to link with job opportunities internationally. Creative, empowered and connected Pakistani youth developing innovative solutions for local problems thus present endless possibilities for tackling development challenges in Pakistan.
“We are standing in an era of global economic enlightenment, where young individuals are emerging as capable players, empowered to contribute and understand the dynamics of growth, and to take bold steps to direct the future of their countries” said Taleha Aftab, senior-year student, as she welcomed the President.
In a very interactive session, Kim connected with the students at a personal level, citing his journey in development and talking about how the World Bank provides financing and evidence-based advice from across the world to help lift people from extreme poverty and towards shared prosperity.
The discussion was moderated by Ishrat Husain, Dean of IBA. He spoke about the investments required to meet Pakistan’s challenges. “Income inequalities are rising. Higher education provides an avenue to address these inequalities and remove disparities” he said stressing on the need to provide tertiary education to the most underserved youth. Other panellists included Abdul Razzak Dawood, Rector, Lahore University of Management Sciences and Sadaffe Abid, Chief Executive Officer, Kashf Foundation, the largest micro finance institution in Pakistan.
As the session progressed, students asked a large variety of questions ranging from the value-added of the World Bank compared to other emerging international financial institutions, to energy and displacement.