Zarak Shah

Monday, June 19, 2017

“I was raised in an upper-middle class household with all the privileges a family member of senior government officer could have had. My father worked for the government and so did his father before him. My uncles worked for the government and so did two of my aunts. Literally every adult I knew growing up worked for a pay cheque. Everyone thought I too was going to end up with a comfortable and secure job like them when I would grow up. I started my professional career back in 2014 with a modestly well-paying job and everything seemed to be going well.

One fine Thursday evening, as I drove past a road side shelter in Karachi, I saw children playing cricket by the side of the road, covered in trash. These children as young as five or six years of age had no slippers, yet, under the bright, scorching sun of Karachi and on the heat radiating roads at 5 pm somehow it didn’t matter to them.

That’s when I had a moment of reflection upon my life.

I was here driving a brand new car that I had recently gifted myself (on lease) and somehow the frown over my face did not match the smile and happiness those young children had over theirs.

That’s when I realized that I was probably doing something wrong with my life.

Yes, I was earning decent and I was working for a company many in Pakistan would die to work for. Yet I realized I did nothing worthy of true happiness. Nothing I did the whole day at my desk in Unilever added any real value to my life or my experience.

That’s when I decided to quit my job, leave the pay and sacrifice my fulltime salary to chase a dream. I moved back to my hometown and founded a company, by the name of Homestove, with two other co-founders that now allows more than a hundred women across Lahore to earn from the comfort of their homes.

Now that I think about it, maybe I always had the entrepreneurial bug in me. Back when I was a junior at Lahore School of Economics majoring in Economics I remember trying to study for banking and miserably failing at it.

I came up with a project that year which focused on providing low interest loans to home owners which would allow them pay the same amount they pay to utilities companies as loan installments to the bank, the project paved my way into Pakistan’s most prestigious Management Trainee Program at British American Tobacco.

However, I was never able to give my job the same amount of passion as I had displayed while working and presenting my project during BAT’s Battle of minds. I suffered from dissatisfaction and anxiety during my time in Islamabad and Karachi despite working for industry giants because I had rightly realized that I wasn’t born to be compliant.

Defying the status quo, my hunger to do more paved my way from being just another employee to becoming an entrepreneur and impacting people’s lives!

One key lesson that I would like to share with hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs out there is that,

“You must follow your passion!”

And no it’s not an elitist statement. You actually can’t be great at something that you’re not passionate about. You just can’t do it for your whole life because all it does is give you a sense of financial security. But in reality it takes you farther away from your true potential.

And also you don’t have to take every advice from everyone (yes I do see the irony).

Whatever answers you’re seeking, they’re already within you. If you ever feel confused just grab a cup of coffee and think about what you want from that situation and in life overall, and listen to that small voice whispering to you. Your heart will know what to do.


Don’t take life too seriously. No one gets out alive anyways.”