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. Here are some key elements she highlighted we need in the ecosystem:
In your opinion, what are some key elements we need in the ecosystem in order to increase the success rates of our startups?
Fostering a conducive startup ecosystem entails a harmonious working relation of key stakeholders; the government, academia, and industry. This is seen in top notch entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world with some of the highest number of startups per capita. In order to achieve this, these governments ensure tax cuts; promote high tech incubator programs, which are more than just real estate deals and a strong venture capital industry. In Pakistan, the startup ecosystem really needs improved policies and procedures.
On the other hand, founders also need to assess the validity of their business model and must keep an eye on any changes in the business environment that may indicate a strategy pivot and identify new growth to tap into. Startups may evaluate any acquisition opportunities, leading to identification of adjacent opportunities faster than trying out the organic investment route. Startups may also consider selling their companies to larger players who can give them the funds in terms of technology infusion. However, with the right strategy and a focused approach to products and markets, there is no reason why existing entrepreneurial companies cannot add scope and scale to their operations and new and scaling companies show success and raise the level of their ambition. It can and must happen!
Given that we’re an agrarian economy, how important do you think it is for entrepreneurs to work on ideas that merge agriculture and technology?
Agriculture is the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy with a majority of the population being directly or indirectly dependent on this sector. It contributes over 20% to Pakistan’s GDP with over 40% of the labor force involved and with such scale of involvement, this sector has a huge opportunity for increased contribution towards the national economic progress. I can’t emphasize enough the significance of technology in this field, as I believe it is through technology we can offer scale; can increase customer engagement and offer products and services at a lower cost. Technology also helps in designing better products as it provides actionable insights, provides personalized guidance (IoT) mapping lands (using Drones) and digital satellite images, providing personalized information.
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