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Alisha is managing to do much more

By her example and hard work, Alisha is showing women in Pakistan that they have the power to do what they want. 

A young business graduate in Pakistan had a great idea to organise events in her city. Training by the Empower Youth for Work (EYW) project was just what she needed to get started, but then the real learning began.

Lucky break

Alisha Khan, 22, recently completed her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Layyah, Punjab. Towards the end of her third year at university, she attended a session led by Oxfam’s Empower Youth for Work (EYW) project. Youth Innovators were there to spread the word about EYW’s upcoming start-up competition, and to motivate more students to come forward with their business ideas. Alisha jumped at the chance: “I filled a form with my idea of starting an event management company in Layyah and shortly after was asked to attend a training at EYW’s Innovation Hub.”

A one-stop shop

Alisha had identified a lack of event management companies in the city and wanted to provide a one-stop solution to people so that they wouldn’t have the hassle of managing different service providers when planning parties, concerts, or business events. At the Hub, Alisha learnt all about conducting on-the-ground research, identifying potential competitors, marketing her idea, and creating a sustainable business model. With her colleagues Waqas Sheikh and Mazhar Mukhtiar on board, Alisha founded her company ‘Aqas Event Organisers’.

“If a client wants to plan a wedding, I would take complete responsibility for managing everything from the venue to the dress, the beauty parlour, event décor, guest invitations, photography and catering,” she says.

Best laid plans…

It wasn’t until Alisha’s very first event with her new company that she faced challenges she was not mentally prepared for, and grasped the practical realities of the business. “We were arranging a concert and had received confirmation from a popular artist; in all the excitement, we plastered the entire city with his posters and billboards”, she says. Soon, Alisha and her team were being contacted by thousands of individuals requesting tickets. Then, at the very last minute, the artist bailed out.

The show must go on

“At that point, we were faced with a huge loss and were even indebted to a friend,” she says. Undeterred, the team kept looking for replacement artists, and they eventually managed to hire a megastar! Since concerts on such a scale are a rarity in Layyah, several traders offered their services for free, including those who arranged the sound system and lighting. “We also got another famous singer to come, who later turned down her payment as a gesture of support for our community,” Alisha shares, happily. In the end, the concert was a success and appreciated widely across Layyah.

A family affair

“Once we overcame our initial hurdles, we felt confident about managing more events, and soon established a good reputation in the city,” she says. But Alisha’s successes were not without criticism; relatives and some of the community members looked down on her for working alongside two men and spending long hours outside the home. “To every girl dreaming of running her own business, I would urge her to involve her family in the whole process because once your loved ones have your back, there is no challenge that can’t be overcome,” she says.

Showcasing the work of women

Alisha plans to complete her Master’s degree in Lahore and then return to Layyah to resume her business. As word spread about a woman-led business in the city, local women designers and embroidery workers were eager to offer their services. Alisha now hopes to empower these women through work, guaranteeing fair pay and work policies. “I want to build their profiles so they, too, have an opportunity to showcase their work on a larger scale,” she says.


Alisha‘s story is part of the multiyear campaign, kicked off on International Youth Day 2019 by the Empower Youth for Work program and the Work in Progress! alliance. The campaign aims to support the national influencing work of the respective programs by joining forces with local role models. The ripples of #Iwasthere are spreading out around the world and these stories are proof that change can happen anywhere – we hope they will inspire you, too, to become an active citizen. 

Why these stories?

There are more young people today than ever before in the history of the world; 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 worldwide, and 90% of them live in low-income countries. . Harnessing the energy and strength of young women and men to become active citizens is core to Oxfam's goal of transformational change.

With their energy, skills and creativity, young people have the potential to be the driving force for social change, strong economies and vibrant democracies. 

Oxfam is working jointly with youth to challenge barriers that prevent them from


Enjoying their rights


Participating fully in society


Being an effective voice in decision-making processes