The idea of entrepreneurship is catching up pace in Pakistan like never before. Young people, especially fresh university graduates, are jumping into the startup arena with great ideas that could one day change the lives of millions of people around the globe. Lucky enough, we have incubators at a few universities in Pakistan who are playing their role at a certain level. The government has also stepped in with the Plan 9 initiative which has some great success stories with its name.

I met a similar young fellow at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A 2 day event was being held in celebrations of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Rohaan Qadri founder Calzolaio Handmade ShoesRohaan Qadri, a student of Business Administration at IQRA University Islamabad, is in an initial stage of a startup called Calzolaio (Shoe mender in Italian). A few years back, Rohan purchased customized handmade shoes on the internet. He was so impressed with the design of the shoes that he started to get a different feeling that a consumer rarely does. Within a few weeks time, Rohan had made his mind to start his own handmade-shoe business but it was not as easy as a pie.

Rohaan’s father is a well known business personality in Rawalpindi Sadar area. Rohaan got all the support he needed from his family.  His friends were very supportive too and appreciated Rohaan’s vision to launch his own company. The mindset of other people around was, unluckily, a bit different. According to them, the shoe business is fine as long as you are not the one who mends them!  But Rohaan did not take a U-turn.

“My parents have always supported me. I think luck was by my side. My friends have been there whenever I needed them.” said Rohaan when I asked him if his parents and friends were supportive enough. I also want to mention the role of teachers here. We learn from so many teachers throughout school, college and university days but some are so inspiring that they their words can change our lives.”

A little savings from his university expenses and the return he got from a personal investment, he was all ready to make his first pair of shoes. He had to freeze a couple of semesters at the university to focus on his work and attend events to sharpen his entrepreneurial skills. He met other entrepreneurs, who like him were also up to launching their own products. He also met people from startups who had enough experience to help others out with the procedures that Rohaan had never heard of. Somehow, the day came when he sent out his first sample to a client.

“I have learnt a lot from events. I meet people who have started their own businesses. I listen to them and share my ideas.” Said Rohaan.

Calzolaio Handmade Shoes

A sample of Calzolaio Handmade Shoes

Today, Calzolaio has over 50 customers and has successfully delivered 70 products. It has been just 6 months since he sold his first pair of shoes, but the orders are increasing with each new day. He has setup a Facebook page and has enough capital to launch an online website where people could order his custom handmade shoes. He has also got a few requests from people to start franchises but Rohaan wants to focus on the brand.

“I love this job.  I know if this is successful, I would earn more from what I could ever get from a job. I am continuing my studies too. I have outsourced 20 people who get paid according to the task so I don’t have to worry about wages.”

Rohaan Qadri Founder of Calzolaio Homemade Shoes

Rohaan Qadri (left) founder of Calzolaio Handmade Shoes giving his first ever interview about his startup with Imran Hunzai (right) of Earnistan.com. Photo by The Studio 11

Rohaan is just one person among the thousands of Pakistani young people who are preferring to take the risk and start their own business instead of doing a 9 to 5 job.

“I think if you are sincere with what you are doing, God will not disappoint you.” – Rohaan