Start-up problems

The start-up sector should now be beyond teething problems, but isn’t

Much hope is being placed on the IT sector by those who should know better. The government is hoping to raise IT exports to $28 billion in the next five years, and are evidently placing IT in their minds as the new textiles now that it seems they are losing much of their punch, as cheaper exports from Bangladesh make it no longer possible for them to be the driver of Pakistan’s exports. The only problem seems to be that IT start-ups seem to be running out of steam, or rather money, because the venture capital that funded them is hanging shy, to the extent that in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, there was literally no funding made. That is not comparative, where you have a million instead of a billion. There is not even a trickle. There is none. Had the writing been on the wall? It could be argued that it had. In 2023, venture capital had gone down 77 percent to $76 million, while the number of deals were down almost 42 percent to 39. Obviously, it was in trouble virtually before it was born.

One of the major factors was supposed to be political stability. That has been achieved to the extent that elections have been held and a new political dispensation is in place, but the fact that there are still question marks over the fairness of the election has prevented stability from being achieved in the true sense of the word. However, PMs do not have to write code. In fact, none of the holders of the job, nor the possibilities of the future, are remotely qualified for that particular task.

IT is on the threshold of a new revolution. Apart from artificial intelligence and virtual reality, which will change drastically how people interact with the world, there is also a revolution happening in fintech, as people move away from notes and coins, and carry out transactions virtually. There are two factors they government must remember if it wants IT to be a profit centre: the local market must be made happy before exports are feasible, and the facilities the government is supposed to provide (enough power, good internet connectivity), it must provide. Being stable is not enough.

Editorial
Editorial
The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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