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Pakistan launches growth funds for startups

By Our Correspondent
February 10, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday launched the country’s first investment platform to give tech startups access to early-stage and growth funding.

Called ‘PakImpactInvest’, the platform was initiated by the ministry of information technology and telecommunications and its tech innovation arm, Ignite (National Technology Fund).

IT Minister Amin Ul Haque said one of the key challenges of the new technology-based startups is access to early stage and growth stage capital and “I’m sure that this initiative will bridge the gap in an efficient manner”.

Accelerate Prosperity, a joint initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation and Industrial Promotion Services, will assist the ministry and Ignite as the technical advisory partner for co-designing and launching of the investment platform.

It will open up new avenues for investment in startups graduating from Ignite Funded National Incubation Centres as well as other startups of Pakistan. Accelerate Prosperity raises investments from public sector programs, private sector groups, investment houses, venture funds and philanthropists.

“This Ignite – AP partnership looks promising to solve the financing challenge faced by our startups,” Haque said in a statement.

The minister said the overall environment in the country is improving. Bykea, one of the startups accelerated at NIC Karachi, has raised $21 million of Series B Funding.

Altogether, 122 deals worth $178 million were made from 2015-2020 in Pakistani startups including another 19 deals with amounts that were undisclosed. This brings the total deals count up 141.

The minister appreciated the collaborative efforts of Ignite and AP for entering into a meaningful partnership that will create the right leeway for young tech companies to scale-up.

Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, secretary of IT and Telecom also appreciated the collaborative efforts of Ignite and AP for entering into a meaningful partnership, which will create the right launch-pad for young tech companies to scale up.

Asim Shahryar Husain, CEO of Ignite said 272 startups have graduated from Ignite’s National Incubation Centers with a total investment commitment of Rs8 billion and cumulative revenue of Rs3 billion. These nascent companies have created more than 100,000 new jobs and these numbers quantify the achievements of our five incubators in a short span of time. Ignite is planning vertical incubators and accelerators in future to boost the startup ecosystem of Pakistan.

Husain said the platform will be the first of its kind in and will aim to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and national and international investors of all types including commercial and impact investors, donors and philanthropists.

The ministry and Ignite will invite various investors, donors and other investment/financial institutions to participate in the platform to consider business opportunities for financing, investments, supply chain commitments and networking. “It will be open to qualifying startups from all NICs and AP incubated and accelerated businesses across Pakistan. Under PakImpactInvest, first grand national pitching session of top 25-30 startups selected from all NICs and AP accelerated companies will be held in the last week of March 2021.”