My first interaction with Sana Khalid was at an Elance training for freelancers held at Minerva, Islamabad back in 2014. Despite her calm and composed demeanor, her energy was contagious, her vision clear and her aims high. Over the year, I have learnt much more about Sana and her journey towards who and what she is today. Inspired, I had no doubt that I wanted to not just learn more about her but also let the world hear it.
Sana is one of those entrepreneurs who build ideas, places and concepts with nothing in hand, except their determination and the desire to create meaning. Her venture, Minerva is a platform for likeminded individuals to connect, learn, network and grow. In four years, Sana has raised it from an idea to one of Islamabad’s most active social enterprises. ‘Within one week of returning to Pakistan for my sabbatical, I had not just visualized Minerva but had also rented out space to run operations,’ she recalls. Various programs at Minerva aim at providing opportunities to students, graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs. ‘I like to be the king maker. I work behind the scenes to transform people who visit us in ways that may be subtle but have a huge impact on their lives in the long run.’
In spite of the uncountable challenges as a young woman entrepreneur, Sana has turned the circumstance around to support her. ‘I never lose hope. Beat me to the ground and I will stand up bruised, but ready to take a bigger hit.’ She credits this to the way that she has particular memory. A couple of months after an episode she’ll have the capacity to recall just the lesson she took from the experience only. Besides, she says that tolerance and steadiness are the way to survival. Concerning the contenders, Sana says contend however don’t abhor. “Acknowledge rivalry as a major aspect of the amusement. In the event that you are missing out on piece of the pie, acknowledge that you may not be adequate. Rivalry must be accomplishing something right to have a greater offer of the pie. Distinguish where you need to improve. Work together with others. Two can accomplish more than one. Collaborate.”
Sana can recall to the point of extreme precision all the events from her early childhood, but blames her selective memory for not being able to provide too much details about her high school years at Beaconhouse School System. Challenged by one of her teachers at school, Sana knew that ACA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales was her final goal. When the UK based university of Sana’s choice declined to accommodate her in the program leading to ACA, and despite being offered a place at the London School of Economics, Sana decided to continue studies in Pakistan till she got the chance to pursue the qualification she wanted. Back then, ACA was not available in Pakistan and so Sana got into LUMS. ‘One night I decided to send my CV to one of the few ICAEW authorised training firms in Dubai, thinking what was there to lose. The very next morning I got a call. But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting thing was the fact that what caught the attention of the employer was not my credentials or my resume, but my e-mail address. And no, I’m not sharing it here to avoid awkward glances next time I go out,’ says Sana. Despite the luck, that open door didn’t come simple either. There was immense opposition to the idea of a 19 year old girl surviving alone in Dubai, with no prior foreign exposure.
Amidst disapproval from extended family and concerns of her parents, Sana took the dive and left Pakistan, comforting her family that the firm had arranged accommodation for her, when genuinely she had no clue where she was going to go once she landed in Dubai. By luck, once again, she found a place to live within 2 hours of landing at the airport, but to her surprise, the tiny room housed 9 ladies – back home Sana had never shared her room since the age of 5.
“I lived in a very shady area in Dubai – that’s the best I could afford without burdening my parents. As a consequence, I developed a likeness for knives and blades. I collected many, carried one at all times and even had the unfortunate incident of having to use one of them for self defense. Subsequent to being kicked out of the spot I was staying at, I spent nights at a Dunkin Donuts store, in the taxicab, at the shoreline – I’m certain my family could have upheld a couple of weeks at an inn while I searched for settlement but had it not been for these experiences, I wouldn’t have had anything to share with you,’ she laughs.
With respect to dealing with her own and expert life, Sana concedes forthright that she has been horrible at it. At a certain point she says that she considered the terms individual and expert practically compatible. Subsequent to putting a great deal of exertion into adding to her time administration abilities, she has figured out how to organize.
When asked about the support she got from family, she says, “I have constantly taken pride in being brave, however as of late I understood this characteristic left the affirmation that regardless of what turns out badly, my family would offer me some assistance with standing up on my feet once more. I couldn’t have done much without them.”
My little interaction with Sana has taught me that if I ever need to accomplish something, I ought to put my entire being in it or not do it all. As people I feel, we take motivation and gain from our companions and these little encounters. To conclude, I asked Sana for advice and she said something that will stay with me for long.
‘Fall in love with solving problems. Then create products that solve a problem. Don’t fall in love with your product or idea itself. When adoration for your product overwhelms love for the arrangement, you begin to disregard the defects in your product; it gets hard to see the shortcomings and practically difficult to discredit the item out and out to think of better arrangements. Also, encompass yourself with the right individuals before you dive into a business venture.’