Project Aims to Stem Extremism in Pakistan
SUNY Oswego’s Sarfraz Mian sees a future for Pakistan without extremist violence like the two
suicide bombings March 12 that killed 45 people on their way to Friday
afternoon congregational prayers in Lahore, the
city of Mian’s
The School of Business professor believes one key to an era of
prosperity and peace for Pakistan
is small business—more specifically, encouraging entrepreneurism through
education, aid and innovation.
“It really is a matter of national security—Pakistan’s and
ours,” Mian said. “The empty mind is the devil’s workshop. If young Pakistanis
have useful skills, they can work to develop their own businesses.”
Mian, an expert in strategic management and entrepreneurship
education who has taught at Oswego
more than 18 years, leads a team of researchers who plan to survey more than
2,000 Pakistanis this summer about their entrepreneurial and small-business
perceptions and aspirations. A companion study will seek out small-business and
other policy experts in the country, a longtime ally of the United States that abuts Afghanistan and Iran.
The surveys in Pakistan will come as the parent
organization, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, expands to 60 countries.
GEM, a not-for-profit academic research consortium, says it makes high-quality
data available in the largest study of entrepreneurial activity in the world.
Mian’s goal of improved business education for his native
land did not begin with his recent GEM appointment. The professor, whose mother
still lives in Pakistan,
has made trips at least every two years to lobby government officials, the U.S.
Agency for International Development, the World Bank and top universities
around the country.
He says it is essential to lend and build expertise for the
nation’s top business schools in Karachi, the
largest city, in the south; Islamabad, the
capital, in the north; and Lahore,
a historic city, in the northeast.
“We must teach the practical things. We must teach the
useful things,” Mian said. “We need to say to the youth, ‘Help yourselves and
help the world.’”
Besides his role as principal investigator for GEM, Mian has
served as adviser to Lahore University of Management Sciences. He is also a
founding member of the North American Innovation Research Network, guest editor
of the International Journal of
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management and editor and co-author of a
forthcoming book, Science and Technology
Based Regional Entrepreneurship: Global Experience in Policy and Program
In country after country, Mian said, building small business
and the entrepreneurial spirit has led to improvements in national economic
health. He points to homegrown Pakistani businesses like NetSol Technologies
Inc., now a multinational developer of information management systems for
health care and many other industries, which trades on the NASDAQ and Dubai exchanges.
SUNY Oswego would see benefits from Mian’s work as well. “It
means that we would have a larger international presence in global
entrepreneurship,” said Richard Skolnik, dean of the School of Business,
who said Mian is the incoming chair of the marketing and management department.
Mian, who foresees exchange programs between Oswego and Pakistan’s
business schools, said the violence in his native country troubles him deeply.
It has become clear how strategically important the country is in the Middle East, he said.
is very much in the limelight now,” he said. “I want to help youth get
educated, get employed and help them learn self-sufficiency. They will see that
extremism is not the way.”
— Jeff Rea '71
Professor Sarfraz Mian is piloting an entrepreneurship program in his native Pakistan.
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