I am delighted to extend a very warm welcome to all the participants of today’s Entrepreneurship event including the entrepreneurs from Pakistan, the panelists, Judges & mentors & all the distinguished guests who have taken out time to be with us today.
I would like to express our deep appreciation to the US State Department, CRDF Global, the MIT Enterprise Forum and the Global Innovation through Science and Technology Initiative (GIST) for organizing today’s event.
We are especially pleased to have among us Dan Feldman, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Cathy Campbell, President & CEO of CRDF Global; & Dr. Azhar Rizvi, Vice Chairman, MIT Enterprise Forum of Pakistan.
Ladies and gentleman,
Today’s event reflects the ever expanding horizon of mutual cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan.
This cooperation is no longer restricted to security and geo-political spheres but is increasingly encompassing important sectors like economy, trade, education and science and technology.
More importantly, today’s event also serves as a template for public-private partnership in promoting and expanding networking opportunities that bring together Pakistan’s talent pool and American and Pakistani-American mentors and investors.
I would like to felicitate the Pakistani entrepreneurs with us today. I have read your impressive resumes. Your presence here is an acknowledgment of your hard work and talent.
Your presence here is a blessing for us. You symbolize and represent the new Pakistan. You bring out our resilience, as people, our enterprise as entrepreneurs and our unfettered resolve to move on come what may. You are a stark reminder to all those who get swayed by the negative media headlines that Pakistan is all about bomb and bullets. You represent the new Pakistan, the Pakistan of today, the Pakistan of future. So thank you for being here and thank you very much the US Government for bringing them over and for joining us in organizing this here at the Embassy.
Your presence here and personal success, I am confident, will serve as a catalyst for further promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and competitive fervor among aspiring entrepreneurs in Pakistan and to further strengthening Pakistan-US partnership and friendship by sharing your experiences with your colleagues and friends back home.
Ladies and gentlemen,
What we are doing today would not only help promote people-to-people contacts, which in itself is very important, but also enable Pakistani entrepreneurs to realize their true potential of which we have a lot. Only last year I was part of a conversation here in this very city where Pakistani participants made up 30% of the total participants at the All World Network meeting of the world’s most successful and fast rising young entrepreneurs at Harvard Business School, arranged by the State Department and Harvard University. The “Pakistan100” as they are called, has amazing success stories of young Pakistanis who have excelled in business enterprises through their innovation, creativity and hard work.
These 100 Companies from Pakistan achieved the All World International Standard for competitive fast growth by growing on average at 55% a year, with the top ranking company registering around 2000% growth. These numbers are sizeable and indicate the true potential of Pakistan as a market for high end technology solutions and social media. In fact Google is already viewing Pakistan as its next big market in Asia.
The sheer numbers reflect the significance of such initiatives.
Pakistan, with 180 million people, is the sixth most populous nation in the world.
At a time when most countries confront the worrisome prospect of an aging population, Pakistan faces no such challenge. Nearly two thirds of our population is under the age of thirty and we have 4th largest middle class in Asia.
Pakistan is the 7th largest English speaking country in the World. English is the official language in Pakistan and a large part of the workforce is proficient in English, hardworking and intelligent.
We are acutely aware that Pakistan’s future lies in its youth and the opportunities that they will be able to avail in the domestic and global marketplace.
We are also aware that of all the fields, scientific research and technological innovation carry the most impact in terms of achieving high growth rates for developing countries like Pakistan.
We, therefore, attach immense importance to these sectors and it is in this context that we deeply appreciate the US Government’s efforts to expand cooperation in science and technology.
Some of the salient examples include the largest Fulbright Scholarship program offered to Pakistan, The Global Innovation through Science and Technology Initiative (GIST) that consistently recognizes and supports talented Pakistani entrepreneurs, the joint Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program launched in 2005 under which scientist-led research in 40 institutes in both countries was carried out on 70 projects (its 5th phase was launched in September2012), and the MOU between USAID and HEC signed in April last year to create three Centers for Advanced Studies at Pakistani universities.
These are important steps. But still a lot remains to be done to realize the true potential of Pak-US cooperation-the potential offered by the genius and talent of our entrepreneurs and supplemented by unprecedented developments in sectors like Information Technology, telecom sector and social media in Pakistan.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since today’s event focuses on Information Technology, let me elaborate a little bit on where we are in this sector nationally. Pakistan’s IT infrastructure has seen tremendous growth over the past few decades.
The broadband subscribers have grown 150% on average for the past four years. Pakistan has 32 million internet users with 2 million broadband subscribers. There are 8 million Google searches every day from Pakistan. Pakistan’s current Teledensity is 68.3% with 118M mobile phone users. More than 92% of the country’s territory is under cell phone coverage.
Pakistan has 7 million Facebook users, 1 million Twitter accounts, 1.2 million Linked In users and is the top 11th country driving traffic to Word Press.
Ladies and gentlemen,
IT, Telecom and social media sectors are just the tip of the iceberg. We are happy that organizations like GIST are making use of the IT revolution in Pakistan for connecting young Pakistanis with American entrepreneurs and investors through web based fora like the GIST Technology Connect Pakistan. Pakistan’s entrepreneurs have displayed remarkable performance in other spheres of scientific research and innovation at various international fora. What they need is support and proper mentoring.
It is, therefore, very timely that we are having this event today. I am confident that as we move forward, the range, scope and frequency of such events will increase to reflect as well as tap the true potential of Pak-US cooperation in science and technology.
June 05, 2013