Nov 10, 2009

Should I LAUGH or should I CRY or just say HELL with trying to help Pakistan

It has been very challenging 8 years for me trying to do some revolutionary poverty alleviation work in Pakistan combined with bringing special skills and creating jobs in Pakistan. Most people would have giving up long time ago and many I know have. Unfortunately I am stubborn and get more excited and challenged when things don’t work. As long as I see the “LED” light at the end of the tunnel I will not give up.

Reasons I am having these problems:
1) I prefer using the system and process in place that everyone else uses instead of “Sifarish” or “Favor” from people in Islamabad or at local level.
2) I am not willing to give gifts or bribes.
3) I am not willing to pay huge “Duty” and “Taxes” when exporting my “Alternative Energy” donated products out of KEPZ Karachi into Pakistan.
4) Policy makers and Policy implementers not on same page.
5) Process implementers not accountable, corrupt, and illiterate.

Case 1: Immediately after the devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan I had my KEPZ Karachi assembly plant stop everything and assemble 11,500 latest technology LED Flashlights to be rushed to earthquake areas through a highly qualified NGO called NRSP. I personally supervised the completion of these emergency use Flashlights and started export process of donating these free to earthquake areas in December 2005. After all the Red-Tape and Bureaucracy I was able to legally hand over the Flashlights to NRSP in March 2007.

Case 2: In January 2009 I had set a goal of donating 1000 Solar Charged LED Lanterns to 1000 huts in the poorest area of Sehwan Sharif, Dadu District in Sindh. It is now 10 months and I cannot get clearance from customs authority at KEPZ or FBR to export these LED Lanterns out of my KEPZ Assembly plant to a qualified NGO for delivery to 1000 poor households in Sehwan to serve purely donation purpose. The FBR Notification under S.R.O 575 (1)/2006-35 (f) is declaring tax exemption on solar powered lights if certified by AEDB ( Alternative Energy Development Board). NGO gets required certification from AEDB but KEPZ customs authority rejects and now requires written permission from Big Boss in Islamabad FBR office. We are now contacting concerned custom collector to resolve this issue. The story thus goes on and on…..

2 comments: said...

You are right Mr Lodhie. I am a young 29 year old engineer/entrepreneur working out of Pakistan. I think I wasted so many years of my time trying to work in technology sector here. I have had personal interaction with AEDB personnel, and the only reason why this organization was setup is to rob public money and promote nepotism. Check out more details here : I tried to work with them on wind energy, but all it cost me were wasted 2 years of my life. Fortunately, I moved my office to Singapore, and hence have seen lots of traction. And as I work in hi tech software sector, I have been fortunate that I could get access to international market.

The reason due to which there is no development and progress in Pakistan, to a scale which we could have expected ,lies in corruption, and lack of awareness (not just education, since some of the most corrupt are the elite, highly educated bureaucrats) If a businessman has 1 million, and two options 1) To bring new technology and innovation in business process to beat the competition or 2) To bribe someone in the government and still get a guarantee to sell crappy products, you tell me which option will he/she take? This is the story of public sector.

In the private sector, most of the "successful" entrepreneurs are illiterate, and myopic people. They have not built their business on hard work, integrity, innovation and technology, but just on basic principles of looting, plundering, connection with politicians, and defaulting on loans. You will find success stories in nook and corners, but there is a glass ceiling for an average technical person who wants to be successful in Pakistani market. Most success stories come from people, who are in sector where they are able to export their products to outside world, with minimum government intervention.

The only solution to get Pakistan out of her misery is to have skilled and talented people who can create value. Pakistan is abundant in natural resources, all she needs is human capital that has the skills to convert that raw material into valuable goods.

However, entrepreneurs nevertheless have positive mind, and I am optimistic about the future of this country. I believe that nation is being held hostage by a few people only. Hence it makes sense to help Pakistani people, NOT corrupt politicians, and bureaucrats.

I maintain a blog : It focuses on the challenges of the future, revolving around food, water, and energy.

Unknown said...

Feeling sooooo goooood. Poor, deprived people have few concerned people to look after them. Hope you become succesful in helping the poor people.
best of luck