Chinese Training Enhances Entrepreneurship in GB's Mineral Sector, Experts Says

Chinese Training Enhances Entrepreneurship in GB's Mineral Sector, Experts Says

Islamabad: Dr. Zakir Hussain Zakir, Director of Planning and Development at the University of Baltistan, Skardu, emphasized the urgent need for training in mineral sector entrepreneurship among the people of Gilgit Baltistan (GB). He highlighted the region's rich potential in gems and minerals but noted the lack of lapidary skills, proper equipment, and effective marketing strategies.

To address these challenges and tackle youth unemployment, the University of Baltistan, Skardu (UOBS), in collaboration with Yunnan Land and Resources Vocational College (YLRVC), China, initiated an associate diploma program in geology and mineral survey in 2023.

Under this program, students undergo a three-year course, with two years completed in Pakistan and one year in YLRVC, China, focusing on practical training. This initiative is a significant development within the newly established Department of Geo-Sciences and Mineralogy at UOBS. Dr. Zakir highlighted the emphasis on e-commerce training to enable students to tap into local and international markets, alongside internships in various firms to hone their skills. Additionally, the collaboration with the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) aims to support young entrepreneurs in the mineral and gemmology sectors by providing necessary equipment and mentorship.

Moreover, collaborations with institutions like the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD) and the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) have facilitated practical workshops on gem cutting and polishing. Gemstones exporter Zakir Ullah, known as Jhulay Lal, emphasized the pivotal role of Chinese coordination in nurturing gemstone entrepreneurs not only in GB but also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan. He stressed that promoting the gemstone sector could alleviate Pakistan's economic challenges.

Chairman of the All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association of Rough and Unpolished Precious and Semi-Precious Stones (APCEA), Syed Minhajuddin Shah, echoed the importance of Chinese collaboration in strengthening gemstone entrepreneurship through academia and industry. He expressed APCEA's interest in partnering with UOBS to expand such initiatives across KP and other regions abundant with gemstone resources. Shah emphasized the need for proper training, academic education, and support for entrepreneurs to unlock the potential of the gemstone sector in Pakistan.