GIK student, Usman Iftikhar gets Commonwealth Young Person of the Year award

Usman Iftikhar, a graduate of Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology has won the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year Award, the Commonwealth’s highest honor for young achievers. At present, Mr. Usman lives in Australia and is pursuing his PhD at the University of Wollongong (UOW).

Engr. Jehangir Bashar, Rector GIK Institute said that since establishment of the Institute in 1993, it has produced brilliant students who are well known across the world for their innovation and entrepreneurial ideas.  “We are proud of their contributions, result-oriented business ideas and innovation outlook,” he said. “The Institute has always extended its full support to its students to achieve  their dreams.”

Usman graduated from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in 2010.  He is co-founder   of Catalysr, a business incubator, which helps the migrants and refugees to develop their own business plans to earn their livelihood with dignity and honour, and to make money using the skills they already have.  Eighteen months after launching the program, he has been awarded the Commonwealth’s highest honor for young achievers. He was presented with the prize by Prince Harry at London’s QE2 Centre. 

Dozens of budding entrepreneurs - or 'migranpreneurs' as Mr Iftikhar calls them - have gone through the program. “We have been running for only 18 months, but so far we’ve helped 66 people,” he said. “They range all the way from an Egyptian food truck, to someone who is trying to print 3D diamonds. We don’t tell people what to do. We find a problem they’re trying to fix through their business, then help them with mentoring and capital to help it become a reality.”

The 27-year-old said many people who were newly settled in Australia hadn't considered starting their own business. A lot of migrants and refugees who come to Australia can’t get into employment for various reasons, including cultural and language barriers. We help them to seek an alternative solution to employment which is entrepreneurship,” he said.

Iftikhar was a delegate at the Commonwealth Youth Forum, a part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which was held in London, April 16th -20th 2018.


Date: 4th May, 2018