Pakistan is a country of immense potential with youth constituting majority of its 200 million population base. When we talk about a positive Pakistan and the growing opportunities it offers to the youth, Telenor Pakistan becomes an integral part of that conversation with its multiple youth-oriented initiatives in the recent past.

Operating in a country of at least 100 million young and dynamic people, Telenor Pakistan has assumed a lead role as an enabler of positivity. Through our goals and deeds, we have proved that we are not here to be just a mobile operator; rather, we have established ourselves as a complete lifestyle partner, empowering not just our customers, but the entire society we operate in.

Footprint wise, we have emerged as the country’s largest telecom services operator, working incessantly to enhance digital and financial inclusion in the country, while making significant socioeconomic contributions at the same time. Our largest rural market share and expansive youth penetration has enabled us to know our youngsters and identify their potential and opportunity areas.

Using our core competencies to empower the Pakistani society, especially the younger segment of the population, is what we have been doing since our inception. Youth empowerment through various programs, initiatives and CSR has been a focus area for us, because we know that’s where any investment will yield most results. In line with our vision of a Digital Pakistan, Telenor Pakistan has several programs in place targeting young digital talent of Pakistan.

One such example is our annual mobile application development competition ‘Apportunity’. The program provides young Pakistani developers with a powerful platform to present brilliant ideas with a positive social impact in the form of mobile applications. To further support young developers, Telenor also has set up its own online apps store called ‘Appbox’ which gives young developers of the winning apps the possibility to monetize their products.

Opportunities that exist today, with the use of technology have surprised everyone with their multitude, in a way that individuals can now reach the virtual marketplace with the touch of a button. These talented young individuals may have great ideas but ideas are worth nothing till you implement or execute them. So, we came up with an accelerator program called Telenor Velocity. Launched in February 2016, Telenor Velocity focuses on making the Telenor’s scale and superior assets to supercharge promising Pakistani startups. It’s a 6-month, program that covers all aspects necessary for startups to survive, compete, and scale. The shortlisted startups get the opportunity to enjoy Telenor’s in-house expertise, physical and digital distribution channels, payment solutions, market intelligence, and access to customers to throw their product in the market for growth and overcome the barriers holding back their business.

1 out of 10 young individuals in Pakistan have a stable job and even out of those, 33% are looking for the next opportunity but opportunities are limited. There are thousands of new graduates every year without employment so rather than waiting, they can create their own opportunities in the form of commerce, education, health and social impact. This is where Telenor Velocity can help, by taking your concept and growing it in not just Pakistan but 13 different countries where Telenor has a presence.

We also run different educational programs like ‘iChamp’ where we help children leverage the internet for education. We started the project two years ago and have managed to reach 1,600 schools with an approximate of 600,000 students, along with the teachers and the parents who were given awareness on how to use smartphones for educational purposes. Apart from that, Telenor Pakistan’s CSR programs have also targeted youth through intervention and positive engagement activities; one such program is our ‘Youth and Social Cohesion’ project in coordination with UNDP.

As we are part of an industry that is changing at a very fast pace and things are becoming irrelevant in no time with the evolution of technology. Telenor is trying to build a culture that can keep up with the changes. Our journey has been a fascinating one, we started from providing just the basic connectivity in the form of SMS and voice and now, that has drastically evolved. It has been a journey of minutes to megabytes to delivering moments.

My advice to youngsters is that they must look at failure from a completely new dimension. Failure is an integral part of our experience, as it always bring along learning. It is much better to follow your passion than to make a fortune; at least you will have no regrets. Aim high, and fall short – that is how you will learn, grow and improve.

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Irfan Wahab Khan, in true testament to the power of hard work and determination, has been the fulcrum of Telenor’s 12 year journey in Pakistan. From being the first employee to the first Pakistani CEO of the company, Irfan has garnered a number of laurels and milestones along the way. He has over 25 years of experience across many countries including the UK, US, Thailand, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. He is extremely passionate about Telenor Pakistan and very excited about the journeys that lie ahead.