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Jamil Goheer (IGCBP 2008) describes himself as a "technopreneur by profession, social entrepreneur by passion and a researcher by interest". He loves evaluating odds in social sector and turning them into evens. That is why he is one of the finalists of the Unreasonable Institute.
Jamil Goheer, from Cultural Classics
Diplo Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme - IGCBP: Jamil, you are currently involved in the Unreasonable Marketplace. Can you tell us a little of what is this?
Jamil Goheer: Thirty‐four young entrepreneurs, hailing from 16 countries and targeting issues ranging from the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in Liberia to the use of agricultural waste to produce energy in Bangladesh, will vie for twenty‐five spots in a ten‐week Boulderbased incubator called the Unreasonable Institute. The mentor‐intensive Institute has developed an unusual way to involve the world in selecting its twenty‐five entrepreneurs while admitting them free of charge, testing their entrepreneurial ability, and covering its costs of operations. It’s an online platform called the Unreasonable Finalist Marketplace, where the 34 finalists in the Unreasonable Institute’s selection process showcase their ventures to the world.
The first twenty‐five ventures to raise $6,500 on this marketplace are the ones selected to attend the Unreasonable Institute. These 25 entrepreneurs will attend the Unreasonable Institute’s inaugural incubation program between May 28 and August 7, 2010 in Boulder, Colorado, USA. They’ll receive ten weeks of rigorous entrepreneurial skill training, access to seed capital, opportunities to pitch to over 200 investors and philanthropists, and mentorship from 50 proven entrepreneurs and investors like the former head of global brand marketing at Coca Cola and the Co‐Founder of Google.org.
Unreasonable Institute's criteria is to look for the world's most unreasonable, bold, and relentlessly determined young social entrepreneurs and their ventures that effectively address a social or environmental issue, be financially self-sustaining within 1 year, have a model which can be scaled out of the country of origin within 3 years, and must eventually meet the needs of at least 1 million people.
Cultural Classics had been selected in the final round after a rigorous competition and currently raising the desired funds at Unreasonable Marketplace to make a way forward.
Diplo IGCBP: Jamil, now please share with us the specifics of your project. What is, in a short description, "Cultural Classics" project? Whose lives are being impacted in case your project gets selected and funded?
Jamil Goheer: Cultural Classics aims at reviving handicraft industry of Pakistan by empowering skillful artisans & creating economic opportunities for them in the disadvantaged environment.
Artisans are skillful and talented people with the ability to turn a piece of raw material into a beautiful handmade craft. Despite their unique creations, these artisans are left unexplored, unacknowledged, unrewarded and underprivileged. They live in harsh and poor conditions usually below poverty line. They lack market access, knowledge, finance and often exploited by middle men who pay them less and buy on credit. This leads to extinction of age old arts, culture and heritage these artisans hold.
Diplo IGCBP: What can Cultural Classics do to make a difference?
Jamil Goheer: Cultural Classics offer income generating opportunities for the rural and underprivileged artisans in Pakistan by bringing their handmade crafts onto the global markets while building the capacity of the supply chains from grassroots.
Diplo IGCBP: Sounds interesting! Can you let us know in more detail how do you see this working in practice?
Jamil Goheer: Cultural Classics is trying to achieve the following goals through their efforts:
- Provide a platform for the artisans, where they can market their products worldwide
- Create a low cost distribution network to penetrate within the global markets
- Introducing a fair traded business process in the handicraft industry of Pakistan
- Conserve culture and traditions and provide continuous product innovation
- Provide identity to the artisans through branding and publicity especially over the Internet
- Strengthen supply chains for bulk craft production and produce globally demanded designs
- Share a piece of Pakistan culture to the rest of the world and create harmonious feelings
Cultural Classics have an online marketplace to sell cultural crafts from artisans around Pakistan. Since the artisans live in remote regions, we visit them in those hard to reach areas, train them with updated global market information and requirements, form clusters to make them capable of producing in bulk and then promote them and their culture plus products online through emerging social media facilities. We take the task of international marketing and link up with buyers from around the globe and facilitate in logistics and exports process. In this pursuit we also collaborate with local bodies and non profits to increase the impact and reach of our services. So broadly, the aim is twofold, create income generation opportunities for artisans and promote Pakistani culture globally.
Diplo IGCBP: Jamil, you took the Internet governance capacity building programme with Diplo. Can you tell us more about this experience?
Jamil Goheer: Internet has always been a key role player in different stages of my academic carrier. Majors of my Masters level study was computer Networks where I managed to explore several protocols, how they worked, how did the RFC's evolved building my interest on how this huge world of web worked. Though for the first time a conference on E-Governance held in Pakistan, ICEG 2005, opened up multiple facets of Internet, including capacity building through e-activities, socio-cultural innovation through Internet, developing policies and raising awareness through different e-education programs.
But the real controversies and problems in IG were identified during the foundation course by Diplo in 2008. Apart from the new topics introduced every week, the course also helped me evaluate and compare the state of IG in Pakistan which is not yet into its infancy. Struggling through its democracy and development initiatives, Pakistan has a long way to go before identifying and rightly addressing the issues which are already in limelight in the developed world.
Diplo course was not less than a challenge of time management and task management. The course was very demanding and so content rich with pointers to so much of the material that to understand different perspectives of controversies and problems some healthy readings were demanded. Luckily the foundation course was coordinated very well by the tutor and I used to enjoy my class in the morning at 8:00 am with the morning tea. It reminded me of my school days when we used to be in the classroom at 8:00am. But this time, the class was a bit different with classmates from different part of the globe connected in a virtual room using text instead of speech for their communication.
Multi-regional discussion on a single topic opened up customized issues according to the regional diversity. Class discussions used to be at such a pace and so challenging at times that to understand the entire thread I used to skim through the class hypertext afterwards. I really liked the practice of summarizing the chat which the tutor made mandatory for the participants to post in a round robin fashion. The summaries really helped in concluding the discussions by clearly indicating the open questions as the food for thought.
Diplo IGCBP: Were you able to put the theory into practice?
Jamil Goheer: The IG course put forward the prevailing controversies and the efforts world over to overcome these challenges. It helped us correlate the status of our countries in accordance with the existing problems and solutions. I am still following up my exploration to understand in detail the social, legal and economic perspective of IG and associated gaps apart from sharing the cross boundary view points and solutions.
In the advanced course I explored e-commerce and IPR in detail. This is because the developing countries really need an economic and legal infrastructure to get the benefits out of the growing Internet world. Both the areas still need a lot to develop upon especially in Pakistan where neither is e-commerce doing well, nor does anyone understands the legal aspects of the Internet.
Being a technology and social entrepreneur I have seen information and communication technologies playing a crucial role in the development and transformation of societies. I plan to work for awareness and advocacy of Internet and its benefits within the local settings of Pakistan.
Diplo IGCBP: Can you give us an example?
Jamil Goheer: I am already in discussion with a University to offer a course in IG. Apart from this I would like to lecture on the Internet Governance in different academic institutes to start mobilizing the idea. I plan to form a local focused group in Pakistan that can assist the government in developing a thorough policy that incorporates different issues of IG. A localized policy structure is direly needed to control the growth of Internet and putting it into the right direction.
Diplo IGCBP: Feel free to share any message with our Internet Governance Community members.
Jamil Goheer: I am happy to see DIPLO community evolving rapidly and contributing in major policy developments in IG around the globe. And of course I feel honored to be a part of such a dynamic and diverse community. In this growing digital divide we really need to play our roles to create bridges. Belonging from different professions, countries, age groups, time zones, we still stand on the same platform of learning and contributing. Never leave behind your sense of experimentation and exploration. Stay young stay hungry.