P@SHA launches Rs. 20 million Social Innovation Fund

The Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA) announced today that it is launching a Rs. 20,000,000 fund to drive Social Innovation in the country.

“We are certain that we will be able to get some creative juices flowing, spark the beginnings of a few unique solutions, finance some great ideas and provide mentoring to young people who have the passion, the talent and the motivation to make a social impact on our society,” said Jehan Ara, President of P@SHA.

Young people have innovative ideas and are able to identify and drive solutions that can tackle urgent social and community challenges. All they need is for someone to work with them to fine-tune and thrash out the ideas and a limited amount of capital to get the ideas off the ground, she said.

Whether the efforts help young people become successful themselves, create economic opportunities for others, design an innovative solution to existing societal problems or create success stories and role models for others to follow, the impact would no doubt be substantial.

The idea is not to fund the creation of software but to fund ideas that use Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a platform for delivery and as a means for empowerment.

The initial seed money for this Fund has been provided to P@SHA by Google Inc in the form of a grant. As the Fund proves its worth, there is a likelihood of more organizations adding to it.

Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant, Google Pakistan said that the grant was to support social entrepreneurship and innovation and was a natural follow-up to the US$1 million that Google had provided Pakistan as part of the Flood Relief Effort.

Pakistan is facing a lot of challenges – socially and economically. The expectation always has been that the government will solve the problems of infrastructure, capacity building, education, health and development but that is not happening at the pace that it is needed. To some extent there have been very impressive private sector initiatives in health services and education. However, the magnitude of the problems faced by communities is so vast that there needs to be grassroot, entrepreneur-led innovation that can be scaled or replicated in different parts of the country, said Jehan Ara.

One of our main strengths is that 60% of our population is below the age of 24. This is something we can leverage to our advantage. A large number of these individuals are passionate about making a difference in the communities in which they live – and, to some extent, are already doing so. During the recent floods, many of them formed groups and went out to help the affectees; they collected funds; provided food and clothing; they entertained children and provided whatever comfort they could.

What stops many young people from creating such ventures is very often the non-availability of funds and the guidance that they need to jump-start anything new. The initial seed capital plus mentoring can create a safe harbor of sorts for a young entrepreneur to try out an idea. While the idea may not succeed, a catastrophic first failure is the biggest fear and hurdle in giving entrepreneurship a shot in our communities. By reducing the cost of failure and putting a structure around it, P@SHA is of the opinion that they can make a difference in the choices young individuals make about their future livelihood.

P@SHA has brought on board people from the business community and the IT community as Advisors, Mentors and Gurus so as to have available a vast resource of knowledge and expertise within the Fund that the applicants can benefit from.

For more information, please contact Jehan Ara, President, P@SHA at president@pasha.org.pk

P@SHA website: http://www.pasha.org.pk/

P@SHA Fund for Social Innovation website: http://www.pashafund.com/


P@SHA’s video on Youtube Account of PASHA PK