Madiha Parvez is currently heading Corporate Innovation at Telenor Pakistan, where she looks after the Digital Accelerator, Velocity, and she is also spearheading an initiative fostering out-of-the-box thinking by setting up programs to jumpstart creativity amongst employees. She talked to Startup Guide Pakistan about her thoughts on the current entrepreneurial landscape of Pakistan and here is what she had to say:
Having worked in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for a while, what are your thoughts on the current landscape?
The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan was given a tremendous boost a few years ago with the emergence of National Incubation Centers, across the country. There are 22 incubators and accelerators educating, supporting and guiding entrepreneurs. Private institutions, giving exposure and networking opportunities, hold many startup events and competitions. Over the past few years, an increase in smartphone usage and Internet penetration has opened up tremendous opportunities for startups. A decade ago, an average Pakistani wouldn’t have thought of using an app to order food or making an online purchase on a Nokia device.
The increase in digital penetration assures achieving scalability for a startup, which is a critical component for an investor to examine before making an investment. The demographics of our country play an instrumental role in economic growth. 61.4% of Pakistan’s 200 million population falls in the working age group, and about half of this group is below 30 years of age. Many students and fresh graduates are pursuing startups of their own, hence considering entrepreneurship as a viable career option. I have always believed that the word problem is synonymous with opportunity when it comes to startups. That said, there is an immense opportunity in the agriculture sector, where startups can offer innovative solutions to the problems Pakistan is facing.