The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, will invest $2.5 million in Sarmayacar, one of the first early-stage venture capital funds supporting tech-driven startups in Pakistan, to help boost entrepreneurship and spur economic growth. Of the total amount, $2 million is equity commitments from Startup Catalyst, IFC’s global programme that backs accelerators and seed funds in emerging markets, said IFC press statement, adding that through this initiative, the corporation supports startups that provide innovative solutions to development problems and create quality jobs. The remaining $500,000 is from the Women Entrepreneurship Finance Initiative (We-Fi), a partnership among governments, multilateral development banks and other public and private sector stakeholders, hosted by the World Bank Group. We-Fi supports women entrepreneurs in developing countries by building their capacity, scaling up access to financial products and services, and providing links with domestic and global markets. “Pakistan offers a unique opportunity with its improving stability, large, young population, rising middle class, fast-growing internet and smartphone penetration, and a dearth of venture capital in the ecosystem,” said Rabeel Warraich, Founder of Sarmayacar.
Rabeel said that the IFC’s goal at Sarmayacar was to provide value-add early-stage funding to entrepreneurs who are building scalable, market-transforming consumer and enterprise technology businesses in Pakistan. “This marks the first such investment from the World Bank Group in Pakistan and will enable us to back more startups in the country, while also providing access to a global network, new markets and domain expertise to our portfolio companies,” said Rabeel Warraich added.