“With faith, discipline and selfless
devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.”
- Mohammad Ali Jinnah
A country with very young demographics (more than 60 percent of the population under 30 years of age) the potential for entrepreneurship is immense. As per the latest National Human Development Report by UNDP, Pakistan is going through a ‘youth bulge’ where more than two-thirds of the population comprises of young people.
This creates close to ideal conditions for startups looking to make it big with a huge customer base that is tech-savvy, owing to the nationwide spread of 3G and 4G connectivity.
The NIC provides a conducive environment for startups to grow and accelerate. Startups incubated at the NIC belong to a diverse range of industries and genres, ranging from IoT and FinTech to EdTech, Agritech, Healthtech and AI. From facilitating linkages between academia and industry to providing mentorship and arranging guest sessions of industry experts from around the globe, NIC connects the dots to facilitate startups in succeeding, despite seemingly insurmountable challenges.
In a span of mere three years, the NIC has incubated 162 startups in 7 cohorts. These startups have created more than 4000 jobs and earned revenue of more than PKR 400 Million.
Upto $1.3million plus of benefits have been utilized by startups through partnerships of the NIC with tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Stripe. No less than 15 startups from the NIC have been sent on fully-funded trips to international events where they have interacted with VCs and investors and gained global exposure by forming relationships with other innovative startups working globally. Startups have made it big in 4YFN Barcelona, UNDP Youth CoLab and Digital Youth Summit. Many of the startups have created economic and social impact which has received global recognition, making the country proud and projecting a positive image of Pakistan at an international level. This has been made possible due to the consistent efforts of the NIC towards maturing the ecosystem for startups- from developing linkages, to taking initiatives for structuring investment landscape, to connecting startups with local and international mentors, the NIC is indeed focused on making the ecosystem thrive by connecting all stakeholders in the system.
The 3-year journey of NIC has witnessed increasing participation from women in startups (18 % women-founder startups). Differently-abled individuals coming forward as founders, and growing their businesses has been in line with NIC’s vision of building an ecosystem based on tolerance and inclusivity.
As part of its 3-year celebration, the NIC held a graduation ceremony for its 3rd and 4th cohort of 32 innovative startups. The ceremony was attended by leading government officials and corporate-level executives from the private sector. The Spanish ambassador, Secretary IT, CEO Ignite and many other prominent figures honored the ceremony with their presence. Following the graduation day, was another exciting day for startups, when Teamup, in collaboration with Jazz, held the first-ever Investor Summit at the NIC. The summit was attended by leading national and international VCs and Angels, and also other major industry players. Startups from all over Pakistan poured in to pitch their ideas for investment. Many startups are hopeful for investment commitments in the coming months.
As the NIC completes three years, it is ambitious of its future plans. The ecosystem is now thriving, more youth is considering entrepreneurship as a viable career option, and the investment landscape is structuring in the country. Over the coming years, more investment is expected to flow into startups from overseas as they gain the attention of the international community. Overseas Pakistani nationals are also beginning to consider returning, as new avenues of opportunity are opening up at an increasing rate.
"The real wealth of a nation is its people. And the purpose of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy, and creative lives."- Dr Mahbub ul Haq - Pakistani Economist and inventor of Human Development Index.
The startups of the NIC are creating a difference in the lives of millions, and gearing towards the progression of a system that will serve as a pillar for a brighter and prosperous Digital Pakistan.