American Ambassador David Hale joined the Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rahman to launch the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported Challenge Fund.
The Challenge Fund will support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the hospitality and Information Communications Technology (ICT) sectors of Pakistan. The fund will also provide incentives for the development and growth of new and innovative ideas that will benefit both the private sector and consumer.
The USAID-supported Challenge Fund will provide funding opportunities to startups and SMEs through two grant programmes i.e Innovation Grants and Growth Grants.
While speaking at the event, American Ambassador David Hale said,
“America is committed to cultivating small- and medium-sized businesses in Pakistan, creating jobs, fostering entrepreneurship and expanding the country’s economy. We are confident that the small seeds planted through this program will help transform ideas into profitable realities.”
Innovation Grants will offer awards between $20,000 and $24,500 to address sector-wide challenges identified by USAID. Grantees that effectively implement their solution will then have an opportunity to apply for a larger scale-up Challenge Grant between $50,000 and $400,000. Growth grants that are valued between $20,000 and $50,000, will support the expansion of established SMEs by financing it to meet the higher challenges.
USAID’s five-year SME Activity aims to improve the financial and operational performance of SMEs in Pakistan specifically in the Information and Communication focused fields such as light engineering, textile, hospitality, minerals, and packaging sectors.