1.LEADERSHIP & INFLUENCE QUESTIONChevening is looking for individuals that will be future leaders or influencers in their home countries. Explain how you meet this requirement, using clear examples of your own leadership and influencing skills to support your answer. (Minimum word count: 50 words, maximum word count: 500 words)
I believe a true leader is one who, under no professional obligation, empathizes with the problems of people around him and takes actions to solve them without demanding any reward in return. This is what I am doing since July 2012, when I was just 19.
According to the World Bank, 80% of poor people in Pakistan are from rural areas while about 85% population of my district, Narowal, is rural. Being a political activist, my father had to visit far-flung villages for political campaigns and I often used to accompany him. After facing poverty in my childhood and witnessing the plight of the poor in my community for years, I developed a strong empathetic personality at a young age.
In 2011, I was awarded by the Prime Minister's National ICT Scholarship to study in FAST Islamabad. In 2012, my mother-a very social and kind lady-informed me about a few poor families whose painful stories shook me and brought meaning to my life. At that time I was already going through depression but realizing the helplessness of those who couldn't afford a 2nd meal made me forget my problems and I decided to give back to society from the resources I had at my disposal. In Ramadan, July 2012, I received my scholarship stipend and I pledged R.s 5,000 out of it to create a platform for human development. I named it STEP Towards Positivity (facebook/STP.ORG) and in my first project, I mobilized 5 local friends and identified deserving families in our surroundings. I successfully raised 35,000 R.s within the first week using both my local resources and social networks. With the help of my team, I successfully fed about 150 poor people for the whole month. Since then, directly and in collaboration with other organizations like Azad Pakistan, my platform has spent 0.5 Million in feeding hundreds of families, making a small success in achieving the 2nd sustainable development goal-Hunger.
After doing this work in 2012 and 2013, I felt the problem of dependency and unsustainability in my work. Moreover; upon investigation, I found out the root cause of poverty-unemployment, and unavailability of easy micro-credit. Many a poor avoided borrowing from interest-based organizations, either out of the fear of God or bankruptcy. I came up with a people-friendly and sustainable solution of an interest-free micro-finance program to solve this problem. Till now, I have empowered 30 men and women and disbursed 1.164 million in interest-free loans for providing self-employment, quality education, and affordable health. While another 0.35 million has been spent on these areas and other emergencies through our general-welfare fund.
I have influenced people's perceptions about NGOs, and through my work, I have been able to gain trust both from within Pakistan and overseas. I believe my platform will serve as a case study to my fellow Cheveners and it will help me connect with and learn from other leaders who are working to fulfill the development needs of their countries.