Prince Harry honours Pakistani-Australian engineer

Pakistani-Australian Usman Iftikhar from Sydney was named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year at a ceremony in London.

He was presented with the award by Commonwealth’s newly appointed youth ambassador, Prince Harry.

Iftikhar, who moved to Australia in 2013, represented Australia at the forum, presented the concept of helping migrants and refugees to find job opportunities based on his own struggle.

Born in Pakistan, Iftikhar completed his Bachelor’s degree from the GIK Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology and then moved to Australia to pursue a master’s degree in engineering management.

“After finishing a master’s degree with a distinction at the University of Wollongong, I had high hopes and big ambitions for my career. I had all the right ingredients on my resume, yet I faced a major roadblock to finding any meaningful work in Australia,” he wrote in a post for Medium.

“After a couple of years of trial and tribulations, I realised that this problem was systemic and bigger than my personal experience,” he added.

He then co-founded Catalysr, which aims to help migrants and refugees develop their own business plans and make money using the skills they already have.

“Catalysr is the first startup incubator for refugees and migrants in Australia, enabling them to start their own business, create jobs for themselves and others, and be in control of their own destiny,” according to Iftikhar.

Dozens of budding entrepreneurs – or ‘migranpreneurs’ as Mr Iftikhar calls them – have gone through the program.

“We’ve been running for only 18 months, but so far we’ve helped 66 people,” he said.