The Tides Foundation, on recommendation of Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund, has decided to give P@sha a $250,000 grant for creation of a social innovation fund on behalf of Google, according to P@sha Chairman Ashraf Kapadia.
Ashraf Kapadia, one of the most important people in Pakistan’s IT industry, is currently the CEO of the largest and oldest IT company in Pakistan, Systems Limited along with chairman of P@sha – the chamber for promotion of IT services in Pakistan.
In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Kapadia explained that the social innovation fund was currently in its early stages, and details still need to be worked out. However, he assured there would be an advisory board which will be formed soon. “Board members will be from P@sha, and nominated by Google. Members will decide how to use the fund,” he underlined.
The fund will be used for social innovation ideas which may come from university students or the general public. “We will definitely visit universities to inform them about the project and explain the type of ideas for which funding would be available, so we can then have them generate ideas which the advisory council will shortlist based on how useful the project would be for our country’s environment,” asserted Kapadia.
Once an idea is selected for implementation, it will be funded by P@sha. This may however change as the final details have not yet been worked out.
Talking about Systems Limited, Kapadia informed that the country’s largest IT-enabled services company was launched in 1977. It was part of almost every large project in the country during the 80s. In the early days, the company was integral to the Ministry of Finance’s plans, assisting in the development of the budgeting system.
He added that that the core software used by the Pakistan Customs for clearing was also developed in those days. The system is still present, although the Pakistan Automated Container Clearing System (PaCCS) has been installed over it. However, the upgrade tender was not carried out by Systems Limited as the company was not focusing on Pakistani work at the time.
“Twenty years down the road (1997 to 2005), most of our resources were focused on US projects due to the great reception we received from the US market.” However, he added that Systems Limited had been part of the consortium that designed and implemented the Central Depository Company system. “We provided the entire infrastructure and the system that is presently being used.”
Systems Limited is currently working for the US mortgage industry, but in terms of Pakistan it has been contracted to implement a military land and cantonment project worth Rs60 million.
“We will be developing the software, automating the entire cantonment office. After implementation, processing of land management, financial and revenue systems, and billing will be done by the software,” he explained.
It will be an 18-month project and is likely to start rolling out to different cantonments by the third quarter of 2011.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2011.