The global phenomena of startup accelerators, incubators, and university labs have started to take hold in Pakistan. With a growing recognition of entrepreneurship as a driver of economic growth and social change, more organizations are investing in sustainable and socially responsible programs.
And at the forefront of it all is Sumbal Bashir, Fulbright Scholar and student in the Master of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (MS-IME) program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
Despite advances in and a growing acceptance of entrepreneurship in Pakistan, Bashir has seen firsthand that there exists a gap in the knowledge base and a need for skilled professionals in the country’s startup landscape. This is where she said she plans to make a difference.
“I will bring home my knowledge and experiences from the MS-IME program to fill in that gap and drive the growth of entrepreneurship in Pakistan,” she said.
To be fair, Bashir already has had quite an influential role in Pakistan’s startup scene. While earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS) in Lahore, Pakistan, Bashir interned with Ernst & Young, Barclays, Shell, and Akhuwat.
SMSall, a small, Lahore-based tech startup working to improve mobile communications in Pakistan, hired Bashir immediately after she graduated. There, she worked in business development and contributed to some of the company’s most-noteworthy projects, including the launch of SMSall messaging app. The app went on to be featured in the APICTA Awards in Hong Kong and the BlackBox Connect accelerator program in Silicon Valley.
“The most challenging and rewarding project was the launch of SMSall’s messaging app,” she said. “It was the first mobile-based communication application developed in Pakistan.”
Much of Bashir’s interests lie in supporting other young, female entrepreneurs. During her internship with Akhuwat, one of the largest micro-financing organizations in Pakistan, Bashir interacted with female micro-entrepreneurs and came to realize how vital their financial earnings were to their families. At the same time, she participated in a Shell program to promote entrepreneurship in Pakistan. Again, she found herself consulting with female entrepreneurs.
“The one thing I learned from my experiences was that the women from low-income communities are really ambitious and talented, and very much into entrepreneurship,” she said. “The only thing they need is more training and access to capital and markets. I want to be a part of the process that takes out this constraint for them.”
Last year Bashir worked with The Citizens Foundation, a non-governmental organization in Pakistan that offers affordable schooling to students from low economic backgrounds. She spent her time providing educational and personal counseling to female students.
“At the end of the program, a number of students told us how life-changing the experience was for them, and that for me was a very rewarding moment,” she said.
Bashir is in the midst of her own life-changing experience now, as she completes her MS-IME degree program. She was drawn to the Fox School’s program by its holistic approach to teaching entrepreneurship — and the emphasis on real-time projects, internship opportunities, guest speakers, and personal coaching for students who want to start their own businesses.
Last semester, as part of her independent study project with Assistant Professor of Strategic Management Jane Frankel, Bashir interned with Dreamit Health Philadelphia, a 16-week boot camp for health-focused startups. Under Dreamit Health, Bashir worked with VizExcell, a startup that is developing a personalized breast cancer risk assessment platform for radiologists and their patients.
“It was one of the most-interesting experiences for me so far, as it provided me with an exposure to the startup accelerators environment and the healthcare ecosystem of the United States,” she said.
Bashir’s commitment to entrepreneurship and her potential to make a real-world impact have not gone unnoticed.
“She was able to provide extensive research and evaluation for the markets of her sponsoring company,” Frankel said of Bashir’s market research for VizExcell. “Her report was extremely comprehensive, well-organized and timely.”
“She really seemed to embrace the innovation strategies and tools being taught, and I was able to see her apply them to many real-world situations,” said Dr. Michael Rivera, Associate Professor of Strategic Management and Director of the Fox School’s Executive MBA program, who counted Bashir among his students in his Business Model Innovation and Innovation Adoption and Diffusion courses.
“She is on the path to future success.”
Shawn Soto, a student from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, is the recipient of a national scholarship awarded to U.S. military veterans.
A senior, Soto was one of 30 students nationwide to earn the Harold & Muriel Berkman Charitable Foundation Award
The foundation issued $1,000 scholarships to U.S. military veterans who either hold a combat infantry badge, sustained a serious injury in combat, or served in combat for branches other than the United States Army. Students who demonstrate an enthusiasm for advancing the discipline of marketing through the pursuit of a degree in marketing or business, with an emphasis on marketing-related pursuits, are also eligible.
“It’s truly an honor to be recognized by the foundation for all of my hard work and prior military service,” said Soto, a security manager and intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army from 2009 to 2014, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This award will serve to provide further motivation for success in my studies and to continue being an active member of the veteran community.”
Soto, a Management Information Systems major, is slated to graduate in May 2016. He is a member of Temple’s chapter of the Association for Information Systems (AIS) and the Temple Veterans Association, and has made the Dean’s List at the Fox School on multiple occasions.
More than 200 students from AACSB-accredited business schools applied for the Harold & Muriel Berkman Charitable Foundation Award. The foundation, founded by Dr. Harold W. and Muriel Berkman, pursues the couple’s longstanding dedication and commitment to higher education in the United States in preparing future business leaders and promoting the growth of knowledge into effective business and administration.
Dr. Berkman served as Vice Dean and Professor of Management and Marketing at the University of Miami prior to his retirement. He also is a World War II veteran who earned his Combat Infantryman Badge in his service to the U.S. Army.
“This great country has given so much to my and Muriel’s parents who came here with nothing and built a better life for our families, and this is our way of giving back,” Dr. Berkman said in a statement.
Todor Raykov’s journey from Bulgaria to Philadelphia, where he is one of two Fulbright Scholars studying at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, began in 2007 with a blog post he sent out into the then incipient Bulgarian blogosphere. The post discussed political apathy among Bulgarian youth and gained widespread attention. The response inspired Raykov to write more articles on what he describes as “the gloomy future before the young generation of Bulgarians” and suggests steps young people can take to improve their prospects.
Raykov’s writing gained the attention of Teodor Dechev, Bulgaria’s former deputy minister of labor and social policy, who invited Raykov to join the Union for Private Economic Enterprise – the first employers’ organization formed after the fall of communism in Bulgaria.
“My stay there changed profoundly not only my professional but also my personal goals,” Raykov said. “The interaction with successful entrepreneurs triggered in me the desire to start my own business and help others do the same.”
Raykov began working with other young entrepreneurs and realized he had much to learn. Wanting to find a “radically different perspective of doing business in order to come up with ideas that could have a significant impact on the Bulgarian economy” and entrepreneurial community, he decided to look for graduate programs in the United States. The Fox School’s growing international reputation, renowned faculty and ideal location attracted Raykov to the school’s Master of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (IME) program.
So far, Raykov is thriving as an IME student. He was named a finalist in the recent Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI)’s Innovative Idea Competition, and he plans to participate in IEI’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl® in 2014.
Raykov continues to receive recognition for his thought-provoking writing. Recently his essay on the difficulties young Bulgarian entrepreneurs face in a post-communist environment won first place in the entrepreneurship and innovation category of the Center for International Private Enterprise’s (CIPE) International Youth Essay Competition.
“I believe that my work in the IME program equips me with the necessary knowledge and expertise to solve some of the problems that I address in my essay,” he said. “Namely, how to create successful businesses, expand them globally and help stabilize the Bulgarian economy.”
After earning his IME master’s degree, Raykov hopes to continue studying in North America and to pursue a PhD in business management. Eventually he hopes to establish an entrepreneurship institute in Bulgaria.
The cement and concrete industry – an industry that has not substantially changed its production methods in 80 years – may not be the first place one would expect to find innovation, but innovating seems to come naturally to Juan David Penagos, director of new business for Colombian-based Argos, the fifth-largest cement producer in Latin America and the fourth-largest concrete producer in the United States.
Penagos, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (IME) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, hopes to foster innovation in both the cement company and in his home country, Colombia.
One of two Fulbright Scholars in Fox’s IME program, Penagos has already worked in the banking industry, where he and two partners created the first financial network for low-income individuals in Colombia, and in the technology industry, where he introduced the first outdoor LED screens to Colombia’s five largest cities.
In each case, Penagos was driven by a sense of social responsibility. With the LED screens, for instance, the company Penagos worked for provided screen time to local governments and hosted social events. Penagos’ understanding of the potential of business to turn a profit and also benefit the greater good drove Argos to offer Penagos a job.
Seven years later, that combined desire to enhance business practices and make the world a better place has led Penagos to the Fox School’s IME program. He sees innovation as a way to create new business solutions and jobs, improve quality of life and reduce society’s dependence on local governments.
“For me that’s the most important thing about innovation,” Penagos said. “The potential to not be expecting solutions from the government, to be the ones who create opportunities, to be the ones who create solutions for our daily lives.”
Argos already has innovation systems in place, but Penagos wanted “to be more involved in a deeper way in this concept, which I think is very new for us and I think for humanity as well,” he said. Since he already has an MBA, Penagos was attracted to the Fox School because it offers one of few dedicated innovation master’s degree programs in the United States.
“The courses that they offer, they are actually focused on what is happening in the world right now in innovation,” Penagos said.
“The better innovations in companies always occur in the lowest part of the chain,” he said. “The people who are facing the customers, the people who are facing the logistical problems, all of these people who are facing daily problems, they actually are the ones who have the better innovations.”
“What we have to do is create a path – to listen, to believe in what they’re saying and to give them the tools and the money to create the innovations.”