The Pakistani ecosystem has a significant gender imbalance in start-up funding

Syed Amin-Ul-Haque, the Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications, announced on Monday that 272 start-ups have graduated from Ignite’s National Incubation Centre, with a total investment commitment of Rs8 billion and cumulative revenue of Rs3 billion. In the last three and a half years, these nascent companies have created over thousand new jobs.

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications (MOITT) and its technology innovation arm, Ignite, recently launched PakImpactinvest, Pakistan’s first national investment platform, the minister stated at an event named Accelerator Programme for Women Entrepreneurs.

According to this programme, nine female entrepreneurs will travel to the United States for eight weeks on May 10, 2022. The Indus Entrepreneurs Islamabad office (TiE Islamabad) launched the programme in collaboration with the US Embassy for Women Entrepreneurs, which not only provides growth stage start-ups with the tools, coaching, and mentoring they need, but also connects them with global investors and venture capitalists.

The main focus of the programme is on networking, mentoring, and investor involvement in prominent US ecosystems such as San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Boston, Washington, DC, and New York.

COVID-19, he claimed, was a catalyst for Pakistan’s startup scene, with investments rising from $65 million in 2020 to $350 million in 2021. Entrepreneurs were able to produce digital products with human implications thanks to the extended lockdown and quarantines.

According to Syed Amin-Ul-Haque, the government has enabled start-ups to hold shares outside of Pakistan, thereby encouraging foreign investment.

He claims that the Pakistani ecosystem has a significant gender gap in start-up funding. According to transaction flow numbers from 2018-19, 63 percent of money raised by female-led businesses came from angel investors, while 25 percent came from venture capitalists.

“I am sure that this initiative will bridge the gap in an efficient manner. Furthermore, there is a dire need to increase the overall funnel of women-led companies, whether by encouraging Incubators and accelerators to actively seek more female founders for their programs or providing more hands-on support to women-led companies at the early stages and improving their access to investors operating post-seed stage,” the minister said.