Mindful of the extra challenges deaf people can face in finding employment, Tabeer’s ambitions are focused on entrepreneurship.

Tabeer, 17, and his Paper Planet team took second place in the national finals of the Prince’s Trust International, Enterprise Challenge Pakistan 2023, securing £1,000 in seed funding for their business idea of recycling waste paper into greeting cards and gift boxes.

Tabeer has been keen on entrepreneurship since he was a young child. As a Deaf student who uses sign language to communicate, he explains that it is harder for deaf people to find jobs than for hearing people, so he has always been interested in being his own boss.

‘Deaf people can do more than just jobs. We can run businesses and aim higher,’ Tabeer explains. ‘Business is good. It helps us earn better for ourselves, our family and community.’

Tabeer signed up to the Enterprise Challenge Pakistan programme to build his skillset and give himself the best chance of success in the business world.

A joint initiative from Prince’s Trust International and SEED Ventures, the programme enables school students to learn practical entrepreneurship skills through coaching, mentoring and an online simulation game. Teams of teenagers then design, develop and pitch their own business idea, concentrating on enterprises with a positive social and environmental impact.

The programme reached almost 100 schools across Pakistan in 2022/23, with the strongest teams competing in a public competition, presenting to a judging panel of business and industry leaders. Tabeer’s school, which caters exclusively for deaf students, took part for the first time this year. They took to the stage to present their concept using a sign-language interpreter, and finished as runners-up.

As a prize-winner, Tabeer’s learning journey continues, with ongoing mentor support to help him and his teammates explore and progress their concept in real life.