Pakistan is a country with a population of over 220 million and out of the total population, 60 percent comprises of youth (aged 15-24). Unfortunately, the majority of this youth remains unemployed due to a lack of job opportunities but the adaption of latest communication technologies has led to the growth of a tech based entrepreneurial culture in the country.
Entrepreneurship can be a highly rewarding experience, but young entrepreneurs need proper guidance and a platform to convert their raw business idea into a profitable business. For this purpose, various incubation and acceleration centers have been established across the country and according to a study, there are over three thousand business incubators or shared business facilities around the world which were just over 200 a decade ago.
This increase in young startups and a boom of entrepreneurship is a positive sign but it is a fact that hardly 10 percent of those new firms are able to sustain in the market in the initial ten years. This lack of sustainability is mainly due to the lack of knowledge and the inability to respond to consumer preferences, market demands and technological changes.
The inability to attain proper knowledge can even lead to the downfall of big multinationals. A perfect example of this whole scenario can be seen from the last speech former CEO of Nokia Stephen Elop.
During the press conference to announce Nokia being acquired by Microsoft, Nokia CEO ended his speech saying this “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.”
Nokia was once a telecom giant but its downfall shows that that they missed out on learning and thus lost the opportunity to earn big money and lost the chance of survival. Even though Nokia is back in the market but their competitors have captured the market which was once ruled by them.
According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) there are 187 million cellular subscribers, out of which 106 Million are 3G/4G subscribers. Moreover, there are over 109 million broadband subscribers in Pakistan. These are big numbers and give Pakistan the capacity to solve local issues using technology and communication methods.
Don Tapscott classed people from ages 11-30 the “Net Generation” in his book Grown Up Digital, a generation that has literally grown up digital and are part of the latest technological age. For the first time, youth is being considered as an authority and has penetrated into the marketplace and corporate world announcing the arrival of the digital technological age.
Sensing this potential, Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has been the forerunner and launched Pakistan’s first incubator (Plan9) back in August 2012 and now it has expanded its incubation programs all across Pakistan. Backed and funded by the government, a total of 22 incubation centers are established that would provide startups with resources and tools that would help them prepare for future business problems in a better way.
Moreover, the centers shall ensure that the incubated startups stay one step ahead of their competitors by implementing better business strategies and marketing plans that will help in the correct identification of target audience and customer base. Apart of providing startup with Free office space, Monthly stipend, Networking opportunities, Business Mentorship, Trainings; the startups are incubated on a zero equity model which means they are required to payback anything. Each service is tailored and targeted to enable, support and sustain the startups to transform their idea into a functional product/service.
On a whole, these centers are a reflection and result of the Government’s commitment to promote business activity and encourage growth in the startup space.
*The author is an Incubation Manager at National Expansion Plan of NICs (A project of Punjab IT Board) and can be reached out at email@example.com for queries related to startups, government programs and entrepreneurship