For 28-year-old Fiza Farhan, being caught up in a 9-5 job was hardly appealing. Rather than just being another cog in the corporate machine, she always wanted to make an impact on Pakistani society. And so, through a variety of endeavors ranging from clean energy projects to representing Pakistan at the UN, she did so.
She’s an entrepreneur, featured in the US Magazine Forbes 30 Under 30 List of Social Entrepreneurs for 2015 and again in Forbes Asia List of 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs in 2016. Furthermore, she represents Pakistan on the United Nations Secretary General’s first ever High Level Panel on Women Economic Empowerment along with global leadership in addition to advising the Government of Punjab, as Chairperson to Chief Minister Punjab’s (Ex) Task Force on Women Empowerment. Previously, Fiza was the CEO of Buksh Foundation and Director of Buksh Energy Private Limited, both companies pioneering unique and demand based multi-stakeholder solutions in the domains of gender equality, inclusive growth, renewable energy and impact investment.
Through the Buksh Foundation, Fiza Farhan works to bring clean energy projects to poor, rural, areas of Pakistan. In the 4 years since its inception, the foundation has trained 135 women as energy entrepreneurs and has brought solar-powered lights to 6,750 households. Under Fiza Farhan’s leadership, the foundation has extended business and clean energy loans to 12,000 entrepreneurs.
She started her career in 2008, when the energy crises started to realize within the country. Identifying opportunities within challenges, she started to focus on innovative solutions to the multiple development problems with a keen focus on access to energy. With the same spirit, she led a social enterprise Buksh Foundation as one of the youngest CEOs. in the sector developing the most unique models to catalyze financing from diverse donors and create development solutions bringing a nexus between women empowerment & access to energy. Her unique contributions to the 47% of off-grid Pakistan later became recognized as “International Best Practices” certified by the UN Foundation & UN Habitat.
The most succinct summation of why social entrepreneurship can be so deeply impactful upon society comes from Fiza herself; she says “Social entrepreneurship is critical to Pakistan; the public sector is not delivering to the communities of Pakistan. However, social entrepreneurship has to come with the right mindset, the right spirit. If social entrepreneurship is implemented with the right mindset of having financial benefits for all included, social benefits for all, environmental benefits, community-wide impact – not just for the village but for the country as well – that’s where I feel social entrepreneurship justifies its success.”