GEN Pakistan recently organized a roundtable discussion on the "Impact of Incubators and Accelerators on Pakistan’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem,” to foster dialogue among the ecosystem players and to focus on the issues, challenges and opportunities related to startup incubation.
The roundtable discussion took place on March 31, 2017, at the Federation House Islamabad in collaboration with Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Kashif M. Khan, acting managing director of GEN Pakistan, moderated the meeting, which was attended by 25 representatives of 14 organizations from four cities. Participating organizations included Invest2Innovate, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, JumpStart Pakistan, Telenor Velocity, Revolt, Social Innovation Lab, Deloitte Pakistan, FAST-NU ORIC, National Incubation Center and Elishverish.
Business incubation is a relatively new concept in Pakistan. Several universities established technology oriented business incubators in the mid-2000s but their success was limited, as the managers did not have the relevant experience to run these organizations. Incubators and accelerators became popular in 2012 and their numbers have grown exponentially since then. Currently, there are more than 30 incubators and accelerators run by a number of different entrepreneurial organizations and universities in Pakistan.
There were several points of consensus that emerged from the roundtable. The growing number of incubators and accelerators inspire more people to work on innovative projects, which feeds the ecosystem. Government funding could be useful for the incubation period, as it could take quite a while for the ideas to start generating profits.
For incubators themselves to be self-sustainable, they should also add consultancy and training services to their offering. Ecosystem players in Pakistan could benefit from studying the business models of local community groups like Memons, Agha Khanis and Chinioti businesspersons. In terms of the different types of startups, it was worth noting that sometimes non-profits can make more impact than for-profits. More initiatives are needed to bridge the gap between the academia and industry.
The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan is evolving fast and one of the GEN Pakistan partner organizations, Invest2Innovate, has recently released an ecosystem map for Pakistan. It is a dynamic and evolving map and Invest2Innovate invites startup founders and incubators/accelerators to add their organizations’ details.
Invest2Innovate also released an Industry Insights brief on Pakistan's e-commerce industry. Considering Pakistan's middle class is the size of the population of Turkey and 80 percent of the country will have 4G by 2020, e-commerce in Pakistan has a lot of potential. The report is available online.
If you would like to find out more about GEN Pakistan or to become a partner or a sponsor of GEN Pakistan, please contact Kashif Khan firstname.lastname@example.org.