Syed Ommer Amer, the Chief Executive Officer of Daastan (Legend), is the first Pakistani to be honoured by UNESCO with the Media Information Literacy Award. He was also one of 20 exceptional young people from 18 nations who were finalists for the Commonwealth Youth Awards earlier this year, including inventors, activists, and entrepreneurs. The award honours outstanding Commonwealth youth whose projects are changing lives in their communities and contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Daastan is a social company established in Pakistan that began as a group of three persons providing opportunities for freelance authors to promote their work. Through their book publishing platform, the team would strive to discover employment and training options. They were chosen as one of the national winners and will attend the National SDG Bootcamp in Islamabad in January 2019, followed by the SDG Changemakers Summit.
The SDG Bootcamp is a five-day entrepreneurship bootcamp co-created by UNDP and Youth Co:Lab–a regional project co-created by UNDP and Citi Foundation in 2017 for young social entrepreneurs whose initiatives contribute to the attainment of Pakistan’s 17 SDGs. Since 2018, UNDP has organised two SDG Bootcamps, partnering with 25 local partners to assist 41 social enterprises and engage over 100 changemakers. A hugely successful programme that has resulted in the creation of a slew of social entrepreneurs, notably Daastan, that have received national and international support.
Daastan got mentorship and support from renowned specialists in the business ecosystem during the course of the SDG Bootcamp’s five days. It assisted them in realising their full potential in order to address Pakistan’s difficult development concerns. The top three performers from the SDG Bootcamp, including Daastan, received USD 2,500 awards to assist them build their social enterprises in 2019. They also had the chance to present their ideas at the Regional Youth Co: Lab Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Asia-Pacific Forum on Leadership, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Guangzhou, China.
Daastan got dedicated support from the Youth Co:Regional Lab’s Springboard team after the Summit, and was recognised as a high-potential social company with regional success possibilities. Daastan achieved its objectives and key results framework, established a digital accounting ledger and brand assets, and tripled its revenues in just one year thanks to continued coaching.
With a workforce of 12, Daastan is currently Pakistan’s finest book publishing company and the go-to platform for international authors. The organisation supports authors by using a social entrepreneurship model to monetize their time, content, and abilities through online training and workshops. It has aided over 10,000 authors from 17 nations in publishing over 300 books across 25 genres and in two languages.
The Daastan team is also involved in a variety of projects and activities aimed at accelerating the achievement of the SDGs. The Youth Co:Lab Mover’s Programme, for example, is made up of young volunteers who use localised trainings to promote SDG awareness, entrepreneurial mindsets, and 21st century skills.
Daastan is one of numerous social enterprises that UNDP has supported through its national and regional initiatives. UNDP’s Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) works closely with Youth Co:Lab to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the SDGs through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Working with young social entrepreneurs in all sectors at various stages of business growth, from scouting for good ideas to turning them into viable business solutions, UNDP continuously strives to strengthen the social enterprise ecosystem in Pakistan so that social enterprises like Daastan can flourish.