The Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES ([email protected]) officially launched a $250,000 fund to drive Social Innovation in the country to support the development of innovative ideas and solutions developed by the youth which 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," said Jehan Ara, President of [email protected]

The initial seed money for this Fund has been provided to [email protected] by Google Inc in the form of a grant and as the Fund proves its worth, there is a likelihood of more organizations adding to it. Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant for Google in 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 faces a lot of challenges both socially and economically and the the expectation that the government will solve the problems of infrastructure, capacity building, education, health and development hasn't happened. Despite this lack of support, there has been impressive work done in the private sector 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. "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," explained Jehan Ara.

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 and mentoring hopes to create a safe harbor for a young entrepreneur to try out an idea, regardless of whether it will succeed or not. By reducing the cost of failure and putting a structure around it, [email protected] believes that they can make a difference in the choices young individuals make about their future livelihood.

[email protected] has people from the business IT community as advisors, mentors and gurus to make a vast resource of knowledge and expertise within the Fund available to the youth.

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