Pakistan will soon have its first venture capital fund denominated in local currency. Sai Venture Capital Pvt, a Lahore-based company, is launching the fund to target the country’s tech sector and other startups. The company is seeking $10 million mainly from local investors. The fund is already 40% committed and has received approvals from Pakistan’s securities regulator. Ahsan Jamil, the CEO of Sai Venture Capital, believes that the participation of local investors is crucial due to waning interest from foreign funders. The funding situation in Pakistan’s startup scene has been challenging, with high-interest rates and global economic uncertainty. Pakistani startups raised over $700 million since 2021, but that momentum has been lost. The volatility in Pakistan’s currency has also caused difficulties for startups, as they need to chase high growth to achieve returns in US dollar terms. Sai Venture Capital has invested in companies offering services to developed markets as well as startups focusing on health, agriculture, and education. Pakistan’s startup ecosystem has faced setbacks with declines in fundraising and shutdowns of operations. During the April-June 2023 quarter, Pakistani startups attracted only $5.2 million, a 95% decline compared to the previous year. However, Pakistan’s caretaker IT minister, Dr. Umar Saif, has promised to help attract funding with the launch of the ‘Pakistan Startup Fund’.
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