Scaling up of community work by social enterprises urged to fight COVID-19

April 07, 2020

Islamabad:As many social enterprises have come forward to help address the people's healthcare, food and digital connectivity issues during the extended coronavirus-induced lockdown in the country,...

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Islamabad:As many social enterprises have come forward to help address the people's healthcare, food and digital connectivity issues during the extended coronavirus-induced lockdown in the country, experts have asked the government to help such organisations scale up work for communities by easing an access to credit and funding, scaling up financing, and increasing facilitation on fiscal side.

The call was given during an online policy dialogue organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on 'Role of Social Enterprises and Startups in Crisis and recovery time' here.

SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed urged the government to support social enterprises in public procurement of essential items through credible social enterprises, making such enterprises partners in Ehsaas Programme's interventions, using expertise of highly skilled employees of these enterprises in improving digital and e-commerce services and helping improve activities of Corona Relief Tiger Force.

He said it is equally important to look at the endangered sustainability of some social enterprises due to lock down. "These enterprises will require bail out and possible interest-free credit to stand back on their feet - an area where State Bank of Pakistan could help," he said.

The SDPI JED said as Pakistan was expecting to receive external foreign assistance to deal with COVID-19, it will be timely for the government to divert some of these receipts to support dynamic social entrepreneurs.

CEO of the Seed Ventures Faraz Khan asked the government to provide access to finance to social enterprise, where public and private sector can fund the startups, which would help fight COVID-19 crisis.

"In this time of crisis, the government needs to work in collaborative and inclusive manner rather in a myopic way," he said.

Talha Chishti, programme manager (society), British Council Pakistan, highlighted the importance of sustainability of social enterprises during and post COVID-19, and said the brave youth, who were running those startups, should be supported.

He said it was a challenge for bringing up resources to help sustain social enterprises. "British Council is working closely with the Kamyab Jawan Programme of the government to help provide loans to social startups," he said.

Faseih Mehta, programme manager at the National Incubation Centre, said in Pakistan, a large number of startups were experiencing the situation of economic scarring amidst current economic volatility due to COVID-19.

Mehta asked the government to ensure the relief package for these enterprises and startups which could at least help sustain them for next one year.

Ammara Farooq Malik, the founder of the SEPLAA Foundation and Think Tank, said the sustainability challenge of social enterprises could be tackled through collaboration of different enterprises, as no one could survive independently in this crisis.



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