NORTHAMPTON: Entrepreneurship is crucial for any economy as it provides innovative and out-of-the-box solutions to effectively tackle some of the pressing problems that economies face today – be they in health, education, technology or environment.
Entrepreneurs share ideas and trade with new markets bringing new ideas home from other countries, they facilitate job creation and help in technological innovation that improves efficiency throughout the economy.
More importantly, entrepreneurs not only contribute to augmenting national income, but also towards social change. Where does Pakistan stand on the entrepreneurship map and how can our leaders learn?
Pakistan and entrepreneurship
The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, formed by leading researchers from Imperial College London, London School of Economics, George Mason University and University of Pecs, is a leading organisation which researches in the fields of entrepreneurship, economic development and prosperity.
Its flagship project, ‘The Global Entrepreneurship Index’, measures the entrepreneurship ecosystem at regional and national levels.
The Global Entrepreneurship Index 2018 has ranked 137 countries across the world on 14 different indicators. These indicators are opportunity perception, start-up skills, risk acceptance, networking, cultural support, technology absorption, human capital, competition, product innovation, process innovation, high growth, internationalisation and risk capital.
Pakistan is ranked a disappointing 120th out of 137 countries and is at much lower position than its South Asian neighbours – India (68), Sri Lanka (90), Iran (72) – and is only above Bangladesh (134).
Most other factor-driven countries besides Pakistan such as Bangladesh, Uganda and other poor African countries characterised by a low gross domestic product (GDP) are at the bottom of the list.
What has been done on the entrepreneurship landscape in the country?
A number of steps have been taken by the government in the past which could help promote entrepreneurship in Pakistan. One of these measures that deserves mention is the National Incubation Centre.
The National Incubation Centre is a first of its kind technology hub, launched under public-private partnership programme of the Ministry of IT and Telecom, Ignite Fund, Jazz and Teamup.
It provides training for start-ups, digital platforms, funding, mentorship, free workspace and networking opportunities.
With good management, such steps can go a long way towards providing opportunity to budding entrepreneurs that can truly revolutionise the world with the power of their thought and ideas.
The state has a key role to play in providing opportunities and platforms to the public where they can truly shine.
With elections just around the corner, it is important for those who aspire to be future leaders to try to understand the role and responsibilities of the state and what reform agenda they propose to implement over the next five years if they are elected to power.
In my opinion, there are two recent books which every aspiring political leader must read to understand this crucial function.
A crucial piece on comprehending the role that the state can play for promoting entrepreneurship is by the leading authority in this field.
In her best-selling book, ‘The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs Private Sector Myths’, Professor Mariana Mazzucato argues that public investments have provided necessary funds that led to some of the most important inventions during our time – the Internet, the green revolution and important advances in health.
The problem is, as she argues in her book, that the debate needs to be framed away from ideology and towards practical thinking that can steer economies towards resolving societal and technological challenges that lie ahead.
However, none of this can be possible without a responsible and goal-oriented state committed to supporting economic development and improving overall societal welfare. This is where effective governance comes in.
A recent piece on the subject by Dr Ishrat Husain, “Governing the Ungovernable”, argues that the crucial reason behind Pakistan’s volatile economic trajectory has been the decay of institutions of governance.
He outlines Pakistan’s economic history and growth episodes and attempts to explain various fluctuations through theoretical and empirical evidence. He offers important policy advice to restructure key public-sector institutions that pertain to accountability, transparency and security so that the country’s economic growth and equity is not compromised.
Will our future policymakers and government officials make an effort to learn from leading thinkers of the world?
The writer is a doctoral candidate at The Bartlett, UCL
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2018.