‘There is a Maryam before ECP and a Mariam after ECP. Before ECP, I was a student. After ECP, I was a businesswoman.’

Prior to joining the Enterprise Challenge Pakistan (ECP) programme, Maryam (18) had very rarely worked in a team or used a computer and, low in confidence, found both ideas daunting.

But the programme supported Maryam to gradually move out of her comfort zone, with impressive results: Maryam got her team’s highest score in the online simulation game and, with her speaking and listening skills blossoming, she was elected team leader.

Maryam has lived in an orphanage village since her mother died when she was four. Noticing that their village often needed to purchase soap, the team’s business concept focused on making and selling organic soap to resource their community without the need for harsh chemicals, which were causing skin issues among the children and young people in the village. Maryam confidently presented their concept at the ECP regional finals.

The ECP programme has transformed Maryam’s perception of herself and her capabilities. She now considers herself a businesswoman. ‘In our society people have this misconception that you can only start your own business if you can go to university or if you come from a business family,’ Maryam explains, ‘This is not true. You just need to have a good idea and pursue it.’