The story in a nutshell: Earlier this week on Wednesday, a virtual graduation ceremony was held for the 1,600 strong class of the PepsiCo-Amal youth program from 135 towns and villages across Pakistan which included 640 female graduates.
About the startup: Amal Academy is a Pakistan based education startup that helps university graduates develop and polish their professional skills, increasing their chances of gaining employment and furthering their careers.
Benje Williams, who earned his MBA from Stanford, teamed with Kunal Chawla, another Stanford graduate, to form Amal Academy in an effort to bridge the gap between the educational system and the needs of the job market in Pakistan. The startup is funded by the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University.
What is the PepsiCo-Amal youth program: In 2018, PepsiCo backed Amal Academy to launch the PepsiCo-Amal youth program which initially aimed to train 1,000 students from all over Pakistan. The program is also supported by the Stanford university and is entirely remote. In 2020, while the pandemic made education inaccessible to many and the job market even more competitive, the program expanded to Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and increased its class size by 600 pupils.
Till date, 3,000 students have graduated from the program which is conducted in partnership with 16 universities and with the Punjab Higher Education Commission. In 2020, 96% of job seeking graduates went on to join the work force and some even ventured into entrepreneurship within three months of completing the program.
Paying it forward: The 1,600 strong graduating class will now take part in a two-month long ‘Mega Project’ which requires for fellows to develop a workable solution to a challenge faced by own their communities. In the last two years alone, the fellows have delivered 615 projects and impacted 21,256 people throughout Pakistan.
Furqan Ahmed Syed CEO PepsiCo Pakistan and Afghanistan, while talking about the program said it ‘lends itself to great opportunities for the youth of Pakistan’ and that he was ‘very excited to see what they will achieve for themselves and for the country.’
Fawad Chaudhry, Federal Minister of Science and Technology, who was present at the graduation ceremony held on Dec 23 stated, I want to congratulate the 1600 fellows graduating today. I want to wish them luck and would encourage them to pursue their passions. I also want to commend PepsiCo and Amal Academy on this important collaboration.’
Ali Siddiq, CEO Amal Academy in his address added that, ‘Amal Academy is committed to helping the youth of Pakistan and the Pakistani education system reach its full potential. With PepsiCo’s support, we hope to further expand the program and benefit more young people going forward.’