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 in equity commitments from Startup Catalyst, IFC’s global program that backs accelerators and seed funds in emerging markets. Through this initiative, IFC 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. Our goal at Sarmayacar is 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, founder of Sarmayacar.
There is an emerging vibrant ecosystem for start-ups in Pakistan. IFC’s entry into venture financing in the country is expected to catalyze follow-on funding from existing and external limited partners.
“The early stage of local venture capital ecosystems is often the most crucial building block for sustaining healthy entrepreneurship and innovation, which helps to drive economic growth and create quality jobs,” said Nadeem Siddiqui, IFC’s Senior Manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Our aim is to support these entrepreneurs by helping to bridge issues around insufficient seed capital and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan.”
IFC’s investment in Sarmayacar will create markets by increasing the competitiveness of the venture capital market and boosting the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is also expected to improve investee growth by helping start-ups raise their product offerings, increase headcount, and expand into new markets.