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COFFEE WITH FIZA FARHAN, CEO - BUKSH FOUNDATION

BELONGING TO A NORMAL PUNJABI FAMILY, BASED IN LAHORE – FIZA FARHAN HAS WON BILLIONS OF HEARTS AROUND THE GLOBE, PROUDLY OWNING THE TITLE OF, “PRIDE OF PAKISTAN.” WITH A PASSION TO EXCEL, SHE DID HER BSC FROM LAHORE UNIVERSITY OF MANAGEMENT SCIENCES (LUMS), FOLLOWED BY WARWICK BUSINESS SCHOOL IN ENGLAND FOR HER MASTERS. CO-FOUNDER OF BUKSH FOUNDATION AND PARTICIPATING IN VARIOUS CSR ACTIVITIES, FIZA FARHAN HAS MARKED HER NAME AT A VERY YOUNG AGE. SHE HAS SHOWN JUST HOW MUCH ONE CAN ACHIEVE WITH DILIGENCE, INTELLECT AND PERSISTENCY.

BM: When you got to know that your name would be on the 30under30 list by the prestigious FORBES magazine for Social Entrepreneurs 2015, how did you feel?
FF: To be honest, the news did not hit me that hard until I saw the response of the media, the youth of Pakistan and simply the “Awaam”; it came to me as another professional achievement which I quietly thanked Allah for and shared with my immediate family. Until I went to the office and media channels come to interview me and before I knew, the news was all over the media, with news papers sharing the story as the “Pride of Pakistan”, social media re-tweeting the news with great happiness and pride, wishes and bouquets being received with warm wishes from everyone around. It was at that point that I realized, that something had happened, and that I had achieved something that not only made myself, my organizations, and my family proud but also became a source of pride for Pakistan especially the women and the youth of Pakistan! I must say it was one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life!

BM: Explain Buksh Foundation to our readers.
FF: Buksh Foundation is a social enterprise, an organization that works towards providing solutions to the underprivileged communities of Pakistan. We focus on three core challenges i.e. access to energy (47% of Pakistan lives off-grid with no access to electricity), women empowerment and social enterprise development. We focus on creating sustainable and lasting change in lives of the poor and the unbanked communities of Pakistan through innovative models that are demand driven, unique and present solutions to the many regional and national challenges of Pakistan.

BM: Do you believe luck brought you this far or was it totally based on hard work?
FF: I would say it is a combination of both with passion, a lot of energy and a strong belief that I will be able to achieve the reality that my mind has the ability to conceive!

BM: What is your next milestone?
FF: Creating a breakthrough for the women of Pakistan, both in the rural and the urban sectors! How I aim to do that will remain a surprise till I have been successful in implementing it and bringing it to the larger audience!

BM: You have been named as a member of the United Nations body dedicated to the economic empowerment of women. Enlighten us with your success story.
FF: It is indeed a matter of immense pride for myself and for Pakistan; especially the women, for me to be invited by the UN Secretary General to participate in the first ever High Level Panel for Women Economic Empowerment with global heavy weights and personalities of immense influence including Christiane Lagarde CEO IMF, Justine Greening Secretary of State UK, Jim Yong Kim President World Bank amongst others. It is indeed a great opportunity for me to bring the voice of the women of Pakistan on such a prestigious global platform and commit to a “Call for ACTION” to galvanize the will of the public and private sectors, to consciously adopt policies and practices that enhance the economic empowerment of women and enable them to becoming deserving contributors in the nation’s economy and GDP. We have put down multiple commitments and action points at the Inaugural meeting of the panel and I look forward to working with my co-panelists and the public and private sector in Pakistan to making Women Economic Empowerment a reality!!

BM: What do you plan on doing for the bright future of Pakistani youth?
FF: I plan on working with leading academic institutions to inculcate the principles of Social Entrepreneurship in our Youth, from the educational steps before they enter the real world of business and competitiveness. I further want to motivate and enable the youth of Pakistan especially the women to wake up to their own inner potential, to achieve their dreams and follow their goals relentlessly, to stop living the preconceived roles that society or culture has dictated to them and instead live on their own guiding principles, determined by their innate potential and the passion that resides within them.

BM: In your opinion, what challenges does a woman entrepreneur has to face in Pakistan?
FF: There are many challenges that a women entrepreneur has to face in Pakistan, but these same challenges are also the unique attributes that can be converted into our strengths if pursued with passion, belief and commitment. Being a young women, leading businesses in rather male dominated sectors of the country, there were many challenges that I had to go through during my early years. However, very soon I had decided to leave the challenges aside and instead focus on my professional competence and enable myself to excel professionally making my mark strong as a professional before looking at myself as a woman. With this mindset, my only focus was to think of myself as a professional, even when I am in a room with hundreds of men. When such a mindset takes force, being a woman actually becomes your greatest strength, simply because there are very few empowered and professionally strong women leaders; not only in Pakistan but globally. I always tell this to the young girls I meet that being a woman is more of a strength rather than a weakness, only if the woman herself believes in it and knows how to transform this strength into her greatest reality.