English powerhouse Sir Richard Branson has said, ‘Business opportunities are like buses. There’s always another one coming!”
In Pakistan’s case, they could be likened to auto-rickshaws. Muhammad Asif Talib has been driving one for six years. Many LUMS students will tell you he is their go-to rickshaw guy. When he’s not dropping them to campus, he chauffeurs DHA residents and also gives travel tours of Wazir Khan mosque, the Badshahi Mosque, Shalimar Gardens and Wagah Border to foreigners. His traveler log includes visitors from Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, France, Germany and Malaysia. Recently, Asif partnered with SIL-based sightseeing and tourism start-ups such as Khoj, TurrLahore andTravelicious. These start-ups often organize multiple travel itineraries and can’t handle all aspects of the business on their own. Thanks to guys like Asif, however, they can outsource the transport and accommodation end of the trips. Asif has already organized travel and lodging for such start-ups to Soan valley and Cholistan. He has a growing customer base of students from Punjab University, FAST, UET and LSE, travellers on a budget who are always up for a rickshaw ride or a desert Jeep rally. Asif has entered the upcoming incubation cycle at SIL which he aims to utilize to gain enough traction to start his own student-travel venture.
To us at SIL, Asif is a reminder that entrepreneurship is not confined to flashy incubators; it thrives in the common man too. His story also highlights the need for a consolidated tourism plan for the country, a plan that integrates travel enterprises and individuals such as himself into the overall system.
This story was written by Taimoor Toor on 12th March, 2015.