Karachi is a beautiful city, and what more do the citizens of Karachi desire than to see their city grow in prosperity. Yes, we all love our city but how many of us make a conscious and dedicated decision to help the people of Karachi.
It gives me great joy to see young enthusiastic entrepreneurs trying to make a difference for the less privileged refugees, in the less privileged areas of Karachi. Roshni Rides is one such project to be immensely proud of!
Roshni Rides came into being via the Hult Prize. The Hult Prize is the largest student competition in the world. Every year, they ask students to answer the world’s biggest problems through a sustainable for-profit business, choosing one winner to invest 1 million dollars in. “We are one of the six global finalists out of this year’s 50,0000 applicants in contention for the 1 million dollars in investment. We have already raised $40,000 in capital to run a pilot program in Orangi Town, Karachi, for 2 months”, said Gia Farooqi.
Roshni Rides is a transportation network solution that provides accessible, affordable and reliable public transportation for urbanized refugees that live in informal settlements. It is actively utilizing the existing infrastructure of rickshaws and drivers to create a formalized A to B shuttle service. By introducing ride sharing, they are able to drive down costs making a more affordable cost for their customers. The customers will purchase a preloaded Roshni card, similar to a metro card, for utilizing the services. Roshni Cards will guarantee that refugees pay a fixed price rather than having to face price fluctuations.
Roshni Rides was founded by 4 Pakistani-Americans who are in the pursuit of winning seed money through the Hult Prize Competition. “As 4 Supply Chain majors who attended the Rutgers Business School, the Roshni Rides team is interested giving back to our community”, said Hanaa.
Speaking exclusively with Lifestylegupshup, the team members had some very interesting things to say about their first visit to Orangi town. “I thought Orangi was more developed than what people had told me, there were a lot of people who scared us into thinking that Orangi was very underdeveloped and that the people living there were helpless. But when first arriving there, I was shocked that what people told me of Orangi was really not true”, said Hanaa. While Hasan knew right when he entered Orangi that there were a lot of problems needed to be fixed, from electricity to water, sanitation, and transportation, Moneeb and Gia were excited and inspired by just being there, thinking ” this is the place we are going to change for the better“!
While their journey started with inspirational vibes, they soon started understanding the real stories that awaited them. “With the help of our non-profit partner, OPP, we were able to interview some women in Orangi. An older woman told us about how she walked from Bangladesh to Orangi when she was younger to escape violence and the war. She walked far distances to arrive in a country that still treats her like an outsider. She is still living in the same conditions as the day she arrived. Despite all of this, she has raised a family and has grandchildren that have all attended school. She’s made friends and worked at a factory for several years before retiring. This refugee didn’t let circumstance define her. To have resilient customers like them trusting us with our service is an honor- and that’s why we do it. Roshni Rides is a solution that restores dignity to these people- not that they need it to survive- but because they deserve better” narrated Gia.
On the other hand, the Roshni team found many talented individuals looking for that one opportunity to shine, ” One of our workers, Salman Farooqi, is a very curious individual. When he became a part of Roshni Rides he loved the idea of renewable energy. He began to watch you tube videos about solar energy and wind energy to learn more about them. During Ramadan Salman and his family did not have electricity for 2 months. One day Salman came to me and said that he thinks he can make an energy source that uses wind turbine technology but will be much cheaper than solar energy. Salman created an electric circuit, that uses a normal battery to run the turbine and creates energy to power his house. The left over energy is used to recharge the battery as the circuit is being used. Salman has created this electric circuit and is using it to power his house right now. It was amazing to see how brilliant the people of Orangi are” said Moneeb.
“One thing that inspired me was learning about Perween Rahman. Since we worked with Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), one of the people we learned about was Perween Rahman and the amazing work she did for Orangi. Hearing her story was truly inspiring for us, and motivated us to work even harder. I would recommend everyone watch OPP’s documentary of her” said Hasan.
The final goal
The Roshni Team wishes to fully implement their project in Orangi town and further enhancing it over other major slums in Pakistan. Their noble cause is to positively impact the lives of urban refugees as much as possible, and what better way to do it than provide people with accessible, affordable, and reliable transport network.
Roshni rides is a private solution to a public problem- together, they create opportunities, one ride at a time.