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The Scots tycoon drafted in to save flood-hit Pakistan

Scottish multi-millionaire, academic and philanthropist Azeem Ibrahim has been asked by Pakistan to develop economic plans to help the country recover in the wake of the devastating floods there.

And he has been given the backing of the US State Department to carry out the challenge.

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Ibrahim, whose parents came from Pakistan to Scotland in the 1960s, said: “This is exactly the sort of project I have always wanted to work on, so it is hugely exciting for me to be asked to do this.

“My father is buried in Pakistan so the project means a lot to me on a personal level too. I am keen to get out to Pakistan as soon as possible.”

The Glasgow-born entrepreneur, who made his first millions by the age of 27, was asked by the Pakistani minister for planning, Dr Nadeem Ul-Haq, to author a new national economic strategy for the country.

Ibrahim, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign and advised Gordon Brown, approached contacts at the US State Department for advice.

The State Department has now asked Ibrahim to help its plans for economic reform in the country. Ibrahim will focus on encouraging entrepreneurship.

A senior advisor at the State Department said: “It is true that Pakistan has been high on our list of countries to work in … It is also true that with so much complexity there -- not least compounded by these horrific floods -- we haven’t had any idea of where to begin or, more importantly, have a local interlocutor to work with.”

Ibrahim, named one of the top global thinkers of 2009, added: “This is unprecedented and very flattering. The US State Department wants me to be its point of contact in a country of 170 million people.

“I’m really excited about it and absolutely thrilled. Entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth. We will put together a very, very robust plan.”

Ibrahim, who grew up in Garnethill and Anderston in Glasgow, will make an initial study and meet ministers in Islamabad. He will be joined by a leading academics including Oxford-educated entrepreneur Alexander Grouet.

Dr Vusi Gumede, a policy advisor for the South African government, and Mansoor Panawala, a former advisor to the deputy prime minister of Malaysia, will also be in the team.

Ibrahim’s plan will be formed around six main points, including identifying people with a talent for entrepreneurship and giving them support.

“You need the correct environment for entrepreneurship to flourish,” he said.

  From Maryhill to Millionaire

 

Despite being Scottish born and bred, the story of Azeem Ibrahim reads like a version of the American Dream.

He worked in his father’s shop on Glasgow’s Maryhill Road as a child, slavishly reading the business pages of newspapers.

At Hillhead High School, Ibrahim began dabbling in the stock market before making £2000 from the privatisation of Railtrack.

After school he moved to London and set up a business selling cobalt and zinc to the Middle East and China.

With his business partner he then created an online insurance company for the maritime market and made his millions.

He has since opened the European Commerce and Mercantile Bank and is currently studying for a PhD at Cambridge University.

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