(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan is launching a venture capital fund for local early-stage startups, seeking to lure global investors back to the South Asian country.
The fund aims to allocate as much as $10 million annually, Umar Saif, Pakistan’s minister for information technology and telecommunications, said in an interview. It’ll back companies that manage to gather most of the round from other sources, targeting startups seeking $2 million to $3 million, he said.
The government wants to give global investors an additional incentive to back young Pakistani companies. Fundraising by the country’s startups has slumped to a fraction of the record $700 million they garnered over 2021 and 2022, according to Invest2Innovate. Venture investors pulled back from emerging markets as economies slowed and interest rates and inflation levels jumped.
“Pakistan is setting up this fund where they want to entice global investors at an early stage,” Saif said in Islamabad.
Saif, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge University, is a startup industry veteran. He launched a state-backed incubation program in 2012, years before the nation’s startup economy took off. He is now part of an interim administration in charge until a February general election.
Among Saif’s other goals is the introduction of a mandatory internship program for university students. Pakistan’s tech industry lags behind other emerging markets partly because a majority of graduates aren’t skilled enough for employment, he said. To further help the tech industry, Saif plans to create a network of offices for freelancers.
He’s also proposing to make Pakistan a hub in China’s project to connect with Africa and Europe through a fiber-optic cable. Pakistan can be used as a base to link Central Asia into the project, Saif said.
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