Published Date: Apr 6, 2020
Social entrepreneurs helping citizens cope with coronavirus crisis
ISLAMABAD: Amid the Covid-19 crisis, many social enterprises have started helping citizens in the areas 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 at an online policy dialogue, ‘Role of social enterprises and startups in crisis and recovery time’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
SDPI Joint Executive Director 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 the Corona Relief Tiger Force.
Experts urge govt help these social enterprises in scaling up their work for communities
He said it is equally important to look at the endangered sustainability of some social enterprises due to the lockdown.
These will require bail-out and possible interest-free credit to stand back on their feet – an area where the 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, he added.
Seed Ventures chief Faraz Khan also said the government should 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 in this time of crisis the government needs to work in collaborative and inclusive manner rather in a myopic way.
Programme Manager Society, British Council Pakistan, Talha Chishti emphasised the importance of sustainability of social enterprises during and post-Covid-19, and stressed the need for supporting the youth running these startups.
He said social enterprises are growing every day and the challenge for us is 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.
Programme Manager National Incubation Centre Faseih Mehta said in Pakistan a large number of startups are experiencing the situation of economic scarring amidst current economic volatility due to Covid-19. He said the main challenge for the social enterprise sector is survival where there is no prediction whether this crisis will last for three months or six months or the economic ripple will last six months or 12 months.