Pakistan is setting up a venture capital fund to support local startups that are seeking early-stage funding from global investors.
The fund, which will be managed by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, aims to invest up to $10 million annually in startups that have secured most of their financing from other sources.
The venture capital is part of the government’s efforts to revive the startup ecosystem in Pakistan, which has seen a decline in fundraising amid the global economic slowdown and rising inflation.
According to VC and insights firm Invest2Innovate, startup funding slumped significantly compared to $700 million in the previous two years.
The minister for information technology and telecommunications, Umar Saif, said in an interview with Bloomberg that the fund will help attract global investors to Pakistan’s startup scene, which has potential in sectors such as e-commerce, fintech, healthtech, and edtech.
Saif, a veteran entrepreneur and an MIT and Cambridge graduate, is part of an interim government that will oversee the country until the general election in February 2024. He said that he wants to make Pakistan a hub for innovation and technology in the region.
The minister for information technology also announced other initiatives to boost the tech industry in Pakistan, such as a mandatory internship program for university students, a network of offices for freelancers, and a plan to connect Pakistan with China’s fiber-optic cable project that links Africa and Europe.