Breaking down barriers to Pakistani youth entrepreneurship in ICT

Jehan Ara, President P@SHA briefing about the initiative to engage Pakistani youth in ICT entrepreneurship. Sitting are ICT entrepreneur Jawwad Farid and CIPE Pakistan Country Director Moin Fudda. (Photo: CIPE)

Growth in Pakistan’s information and communication technologies (ICT) sector has continued even during the challenging economic situation that the world has faced the past few years. According to The Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and IT Enabled Services (P@SHA), the size of the ICT sector is estimated at US$ 2 billion, with growth in double digits each year.

Pakistan is a country with about 103 million young people in the age bracket of 20-35 years. The country is producing a large number of graduates with business and information technology specialization. However it has been noted that despite low start-up capital requirements, after completing their studies 95 percent of students focus their efforts on looking for a job and do not explore entrepreneurship as a career.

P@SHA in partnership with CIPE initiated a stakeholders’ dialogue called “Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Youth in the IT Sector”. The objective of this initiative is to look at the impediments or entry barriers for young entrepreneurs in the IT sector and to determine whether there are any legal or regulatory reforms that are needed to improve entrepreneurial opportunities.

The first meeting took place last week in Karachi where forty participants discussed the issues related to entry barriers in the IT entrepreneurship career.

Participants agreed that, despite the start-up cost of as low as Rs 200,000 (US$ 2,250), fewer young people are undertaking IT entrepreneurship and a major reason why is the lack of mentorship at the university level. One group of young IT entrepreneurs were of the view that in addition to lack of mentorship for start-up companies, access to knowledge, quality human resources, retaining core team members, lack of a payment gateway, mishandling growth and lack of understanding of local laws and other legislative issues can be the major causes for inability to prosper and continue in business.

Participants agreed that local community focused-research, case studies and trends are also needed for technology companies to build stronger business cases in front of customers and investors.

CIO Pakistan, the technology partner for this initiative, video captured the event, available here.

Jawwad Farid, a dynamic IT professional who heads Alchemy moderated the discussion with Jehan Ara, President P@SHA. Jawwad wrote an interesting blog on the experience.

Published Date: May 02, 2011