Govt to launch Rs1bn venture capital fund under NITL

LAHORE: The government of Pakistan is launching an Rs1 billion venture capital fund under the National Investment Trust Limited (NITL) to support Pakistani startups.

Speaking at PakLaunch’s inaugural conference, held virtually on Wednesday to present Pakistan’s startups to a global audience, President Arif Alvi had said that the government was launching a venture capital fund to support Pakistani startups.

According to an earlier version of this article, President Alvi had said that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) was setting up an Rs1 billion venture capital fund, while the SECP denied it. The SECP has since clarified that the fund will be launched by NITL while the SECP would give approvals for investments.

Speaking at the conference, the president had said that Pakistan was the fifth most populous country in the world with a huge youth bulge, most of whom were educated and English speaking.

“This youth bulge is being facilitated by the government which is improving the digital infrastructure and investing heavily in intellectual change and creating friendly regulations and ease of doing business.

This is the framework in which we want the digital ecosystem to prosper and startups and the IT sector to make progress,” he said.

“The government was making loans available for the youth through the Kamyab Jawan Programme,” the president said, adding that besides the Kamyab Jawan Programme, venture capital was the only way these youth could be encouraged [to become entrepreneurs].

On the same note, the president said that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan “which is the regulator of investments and foreign companies etcetera”, is striving to create a congenial environment for entrepreneurs and investors alike, and creating an Rs1 billion fund to partner with other SECP approved venture capital funds to invest in startups.

“At the same time, another Rs1 billion venture capital fund is being started so that the startups can roll themselves into the market,” the president said, without specifying if the second fund was also being created by the SECP, any other government organisation or if it was a private venture.

The SECP had denied that it had set up or was in the process of setting up a venture capital fund to invest in startups and it was actually NITL the president meant. “The SECP is a regulator and can, therefore, not itself start a fund,” a spokesperson from SECP had told this scribe.

 

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Taimoor Hassan
The author is a staff member and can be reached at [email protected]

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