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IT Ministry plans in-depth assessment of Pakistan’s startups, freelancing ecosystems

Riaz UsmanWeb Editor

09th Jun, 2021. 06:36 pm
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IT Ministry plans in-depth assessment of Pakistan’s startups, freelancing ecosystems

KARACHI: Ignite, a Ministry of IT and Telecom project that funds startups and innovative projects, plans an in-depth assessment of Pakistan’s startups and freelancing ecosystems, an official document showed on Wednesday.

In its assessment, the company would compare Pakistan’s startups and freelancing ecosystems with the global startups and incubation/acceleration ecosystems in Silicon Valley, Singapore, Bangalore, etc, it added.

“Ignite aims to conduct a comprehensive assessment of Pakistan’s startup ecosystem to understand its evolution, key support generally available for startups, identification of gaps for its redressal through relevant policy measures, and highlighting critical components and growth drivers necessary for [the] success of startups in Pakistan.”

An analyst said countries across the globe were focused on instituting policy measures and introducing incentive packages for the startups. Similarly, key challenges faced by the startups are also analyzed in detail so that a coherent strategy could be developed to meet the challenges. For example, Britain provides tax write-offs to investors and reduced tax rates for capital gains.

The major output of the study will be a comprehensive set of proposed policy measures and regulatory incentives, with justifications, for the promotion, growth, and development of the technology-based startups, in particular, and overall development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the country, in general.

Pakistan is among the top freelancers providing countries with an estimated registered number of online freelancers ranging in several hundreds of thousands. Most of the work done is for international clients; therefore, money earned by them is brought into the country, mainly as remittances.

The accurate data on money brought by freelancers is not available, the Ministry of IT and Telecom expects to record $300 million to $400 million exports by freelancers in FY2020/21.

“This amount is just a fraction of the country’s potential as, with its large population, increasing internet connectivity, broadband penetration, young and educated youth, thousands of IT graduates, and million-plus enrolled university students, Pakistan can increase the number of freelancers, as well as a foreign exchange to the country manifold,” Ignite noted in the document.

The study would also compare the country’s regulatory frameworks with the existing international models and identify the inherent gaps, and propose necessary measures to remove those gaps to facilitate the growth of startups.

It would also identify the top 20 cities of Pakistan, excluding the capitals in terms of technology entrepreneurship potential; measure and analyze various kinds of existing support available for the startups both by government and the private sector and a comprehensive analysis in terms of their efficacy.

The ministry hopes to develop comprehensive policy measures, regulatory incentives, packages for the promotion of tech startups, both software and hardware-based, aimed at facilitating and nurturing the startup ecosystem at the national level, and incentives for investments from local and foreign sources, including venture capitalists and other relevant funding bodies.

Ignite said the major chunk of the online outsourcing industry was being taken by the individuals having the necessary and relevant skills required to complete such temporary assignments and project or contract-based work.

“Millions of freelancers around the world are tapping into the opportunity and earning money while working from the comfort of their homes. This trend is expected to grow as the creative destruction caused by [the] fourth industrial wave continues to disrupt the business processes and models.”

“If provided with the right policies and regulatory frameworks, the technology-based startups can make a meaningful impact on the socio-economic conditions of Pakistan, specifically, by creating millions of jobs in addition to creating value in our economy. This makes it imperative for the government of Pakistan to take strategic initiatives and outline evidence-based policies for [the] development of our entrepreneurial ecosystem and promotion of startups,” the national ICT and R&D Fund, Ignite noted.


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