‘Govt must support EdTech startups’

In Business
April 21, 2024



KARACHI:

Iconoclastic entrepreneurs have been reshaping business trends, serving as a linchpin for society both locally and globally. They not only generate more job opportunities but also empower women through home-based edupreneurs.

Pakistan Institute of Entrepreneurship President and CEO Tahir Mahmood Chaudhry, who also serves as CEO of Falcon Engineering, underscored the importance of understanding the first customer when starting a startup. He noted that entrepreneurship, although not taught in universities, is crucial for introducing new ideas to address societal needs or problems, or to automate existing businesses.

Chaudhry highlighted five essential facets for a business: idea, motivation, product or service, local or global reach, and capital. He stressed the need for startup owners to focus on ground realities, cautioning that while Silicon Valley can be an inspiration, it also harbours high rates of startup failure.

Recognising ground realities is essential, including understanding the specific country, region, and industry where the business operates. Chaudhry outlined 13 main challenges in the country, ranging from energy and economic issues to education and infrastructure.

He stated that his team, led by him, has trained over 10,000 students from various public and private universities, while also assisting over 800 startups in establishing companies across multiple countries.

EduTrainia Founder and CEO Ghulam Muhammad Pathan described Edutrainia as more than merely an online marketplace for education and training, akin to Udemy or Byju’s; it is a global movement dedicated to empowering women edupreneurs and advocating for girls’ education worldwide. Equipped with a cutting-edge Learning Management System (LMS) and innovative features, Edutrainia offers a platform for educators to thrive and learners to excel. Pathan highlighted the transformative impact of digital education and training, with a particular emphasis on empowering women edupreneurs and advancing girls’ education on a global scale.

“We urge the government to prioritise support for Edtech startups, recognising them as valuable allies in achieving educational excellence and equitable access for all. More than 1,000 educators and learners have joined our platform so far. Of these, 70% are learners enrolled in various courses, and nearly half of the remaining 30% are female educators. Although the ratio of female education entrepreneurs is currently 1%, a promising number of female edupreneurs are undergoing mentorship and learning entrepreneurship on our platform. They will soon emerge as edupreneurs, and Edutrainia will assist and support them in launching their ventures on our platform,” he stated.

He identified challenges such as poor digital infrastructure, unfavourable government policies for tech startups, and limited awareness among the masses regarding digital education. He pointed out that the government can empower these startups to thrive. Investing in Edtech is not merely a technological investment; it is an investment in the future of Pakistan’s education system and workforce development, said Pathan.

Hafiz Zain Waheed, CEO of NiG & NiM (PVT) Ltd, stated, “Having transformed a decades-old business and originating from a family involved in the traditional ARATH business [commission agent], I recognised the inefficiencies caused by multiple middlemen and disorganised supply chains, resulting in 35% wastage, and have successfully minimised these issues.”

He noted that while many companies operate on a smaller scale, there are no direct competitors offering a comprehensive solution that serves wholesalers, import-export markets, local HoReCa (hotel/restaurant/catering) retailers, and consumers simultaneously.

He noted that business has significantly expanded by streamlining the agricultural supply chain, including vegetables and fruits, and eliminating unnecessary middlemen, which has enhanced efficiency and reduced costs.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2024.

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