Published Date: Apr 6, 2020
PTI govt urged to up social enterprises
ISLAMABAD: Amidst the novel coronavirus (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.
With the government now looking to enhance all of these services at the national level in a pandemic, Islamabad will do well to help these social enterprises scale up their work for communities through ensuring ease in access to credit, funding, scaling up financing and facilitation on the fiscal side for them.
These views were expressed by during an online policy dialogue on “Role of Social Enterprises and Startups in Crisis and recovery time” on Sunday. The dialogue had been organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Seed Ventures CEO Faraz Khan stressed on the government to provide access to finance to social enterprises, adding that both public and private sectors should be able to fund such startups. This, he believed, will help immensely in fighting the Covid-19 crisis.
He added that during such a crisis, the government needs to work collaboratively and inclusively, rather than in a myopic way.
British Council Pakistan Society Programme Manager Talha Chishti emphasised the importance of sustainability of social enterprises during and post-pandemic. He stressed the need for supporting those youngsters who are running these startups.
He added that social enterprises are growing every day but the challenge is to raise the resources to help sustain them. The British Council, he said, is working closely with the Kamyab Jawan Programme of the government to help provide loans to social startups.
Faseih Mehta, the programme manager at the National Incubation Centre (NIC), said that in Pakistan, a large number of startups are suffering from economic scarring given the economic volatility in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that the main challenge for the social enterprises is to survive at a time when no one can say when this crisis will end, whether in three months or six months or if the economic ripple from it will last six months or a full year.
Mehta stressed upon the government to ensure that relief packages are provided to such enterprises and startups help them sustain them for at least another year.
Ammara Farooq Malik, the founder of the SEPLAA Foundation and Think Tank, said that the sustainability challenge of social enterprises can be tackled through a collaboration of different enterprises, as no one can survive independently in this crisis.
SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed urged the government to support social enterprises in public procurement of essential items through credible social enterprises. Another option is to make all such enterprises partners in the government’s Ehsaas programme, using the expertise of highly skilled employees at these enterprises for improving the digital and e-commerce services and helping improve activities of the Corona Relief Tiger Force.