Zymal Umer, a ten-year-old Pakistani girl currently in grade five has set up her own
eco-friendly initiative. This makes her the youngest person in the world to own an eco-friendly business.
From Sargodha, Zymal was displeased, to say the least, to see so many plastic bags cluttering up the streets and causing pollution in her city. According to the country’s
environment protection department, 20m tonnes of solid waste is generated
a year and the figure is growing by 2.4% annually.
“This is a situation you can find across all of Pakistan – these bags are not biodegradable and people carelessly discard them. They don’t really think about recycling,” Zymal
says. She started working on a plan to solve this problem and wanted to think of an alternative to these plastic bags, in order to combat pollution.
In 2014, she used her pocket money to buy wastepaper and started making bags from them that were environmental-friendly. The fifth-grader entrepreneur set up a small business called Zeebags where she sold those environmental-friendly bags to her relatives and to the general public at local fairs. She donated all her profits to the needy and most vulnerable.
In November 2015, Zymal was awarded with the prestigious “Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah International Award” for being the world’s youngest and only Pakistani startup at the International Business Conference. She said, “It is hard to balance my schoolwork with running Zeebags, so I make them at the weekend or during the holidays with my cousins.”
One charity Zymal’s donates her profits to is called SOS Children’s Villages, which helps orphans and vulnerable children across Pakistan. “Through my income, I’ve been able to pay for water coolers, washing machines, batteries and the type of things they need for daily life,” Zymal explains. “To see the happiness on their faces gives me a lot of satisfaction and motivation to carry on.”