Pandora: Dragon ready to launch 'Big Issue' for Pakistan

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The Independent Online

After six months of negotiations, it seems that James Caan's plans for a Pakistani edition of The Big Issue are finally coming to fruition.

The smooth-talking entrepreneur – undoubtedly one of the more good-natured judges on the BBC Dragons' Den panel – was first linked to the project back in June, when John Bird, who founded the original London edition, claimed that Caan "had expressed an interest in helping" the street newspaper, sold by homeless people, to expand into Asia.

Now we are told that he has returned from a fact-finding trip to Pakistan – the country of his birth – and has decided to press ahead with the admirable project.

"It doesn't matter what language you speak or what culture you're from, the desire to earn a legitimate living and integrate back into mainstream society is universally felt," explains Caan, who has already worked at length in Pakistan's venture capital markets with his private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw.

Based in Lahore, the publication will help the homeless in much the same way as it does in the UK – by offering them a product to sell to support themselves.

Bird, for his part, could not be more thrilled at the prospect. "James is one of the leading lights of UK business, so I have no doubt he'll be a fantastic addition," he enthuses.

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