Published Date: Apr 5, 2020
Govt. urged to help scale up community work of social enterprises to combat COVID-19
Amidst COVID-19 crisis, it has been witnessed that many social enterprises come forward to help citizens in the area of health, food security, and digital connectivity. It will be timely if the government can help these social enterprises in scaling up their work for communities through ensuring ease in access to credit, funding, scaling up financing and facilitation on fiscal side for them.
Experts express these views in an online policy dialogue titled “Role of Social Enterprises and Startups in Crisis and recovery time” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here at Islamabad.
Joint Executive Director, SDPI, Dr Vaqar Ahmed urged the government to support social enterprises in public procurement of essential items through credible social enterprises, making such enterprises partners in Ehsaas programme’s interventions, using expertise of highly skilled employees of these enterprises in improving digital and e-commerce services and helping improve activities of Corona Relief Tiger Force. He said that it is equally important to look at the endangered sustainability of some social enterprises due to lock down. These will require bail out and possible interest-free credit to stand back on their feet – an area where State Bank of Pakistan could help. As Pakistan is expecting to receive external foreign assistance to deal with COVID-19, it will be timely for the government to divert some of these receipts to support dynamic social entrepreneurs of Pakistan, he added.
CEO Seed Ventures, Faraz Khan stressed upon the government to provide access to finance to social enterprise, where public and private sector can fund these startups, which would help fight COVID-19 crisis. He said that in this time of crisis the government needs to work in collaborative and inclusive manner rather in a myopic way. Talha Chishti, Program Manager Society, British Council Pakistan emphasize the importance of sustainability of social enterprises during and post COVID-19, and stressed the need for supporting those brave youth who are running these startups. He said that social enterprises are growing every day and the challenge for us to bring up resources to help sustain them. British Council is working closely with Kamyab Jawan Programme of the government to help provide loans to social startups, he added.
Faseih Mehta, Program Manager National Incubation Centre said that in Pakistan, a large number of startups are experiencing the situation of economic scarring amidst current economic volatility due to COVID-19. He said that the main challenge for the social enterprise sector is survival where there is no prediction whether this crisis will last for 3 months or 6 months or the economic ripple will last 6 months or 12 months.
Mehta stressed upon the government to ensure the relief package for these enterprises and startups which could at least help sustain them for next one year. Ammara Farooq Malik Founder, SEPLAA Foundation and Think Tank said that the sustainability challenge of social enterprises can be tackled through collaboration of different enterprises, as no one can survive independently in this crisis.
The online policy dialogue was moderated by Ahad Nazir, Head, Centre for Private Sector Engagement, SDPI.