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Youth Urged To Continue Hard Work, Education, Be Entrepreneurial - Lord Ahmed, Toaha Qureshi MBE

At a seminar arranged by Forum for International Relations Development (FIRD) and London College of Business Management & IT (now SOEL), titled "Inspiring Youth Through Education" Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotheram (Vice Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group on Entrepreneurship) and Toaha Qureshi MBE urged the youth to continue their hard work and be entrepreneurial to be successful in the world.

The seminar hosted by Umar Mahmood was kicked off with a warm welcome followed by an introduction by FIRD Chairman and SOEL CEO Toaha Qureshi MBE. He briefed the audience and Lord Ahmed on the work being carried out in the fields of education, de-radicalisation and employability. He gave practical examples of the work that had been carried out including the highly successful SEED programme, executed by Stockwell Green Community Services (the charity partner for FIRD and SOEL) carried out in partnership with the Home Office and other partners - the programme was independently evaluated by Middlesex University and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Qureshi went on to elaborate on the educational support being given to students, both local and international, through scholarship schemes. Interestingly, the scholarships are provided through retained profit rather than any funding streams illustrating immense commitment as more well over 1000 scholarships have been issued to date since the scheme started in 2010. Mr Qureshi spoke on working with the four provinces of Pakistan - Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and KPK - to provide deserving students with the opportunity to study and be mentored through signing MoU's with the representatives of the respective provinces including Rana Mashood Khan, Muhammad Atif Khan, Governor Eng Shaukatullah, Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik, Nisar Khoro and others. Advertisements for the scholarships have already been made and nominations for the students have also been received.

Umar Mahmood introduced two students that had taken part in the scholarship programme and benefited from the various programmes implemented by FIRD and SGCS. Abdulkadir Ali and Qasim Abbasi spoke about their time going through the programme and "life changing" experiences including gaining skills like confidence, speaking ability, organisation and overall employability skills. Lord Ahmed, congratulating both students on their efforts to better themselves said that at their age he could not have given a speech like that - a tribute to the efforts of those who are really trying.

Lord Ahmed started his keynote address with praising the young students in the audience for taking the steps to be part of social capital for sustainable development. Giving his own experience, he said that he had to work "that little bit harder" in life to get where he is today including thinking outside of the box. Lord Ahmed really showed his versatile nature and his ability to peak interest with the students after responding to questions on employment from the audience stating his first job out of education was as a manager, but he still had cleaning duties before reaching his current position, the audience returned his honesty with a round of applause. Lord Ahmed applauded the mentoring scheme implemented by SOEL and FIRD to the extent that to support the process he offered 6 young students of SOEL the chance to an internship with him at the House of Lords. Saad Mahmood, Director Academics & Corporate Affairs (SOEL), asked the importance of social responsibility by companies and Lord Ahmed responded by saying that there are ten thousand Muslim millionaires and if every one of them took on just one mentor to shadow them as SOEL has done, the UK would be in a very different position it is in now. Replying to questions posed by students regarding immigration rules, he went on to say that it is unfortunate that ruling party is being influenced by right wing groups such as UKIP but they need to keep their hopes up and be positive.

Concluding comments focused on the need for education, the build on knowledge sharing and inspiring entrepreneurial flare. The seminar was attended by researchers, lecturers, politicians, students, community members and the media.