Sitting around a roundtable, American and Pakistani business experts and leaders noted that Pakistan’s vast economic potential anchored on the entrepreneurial spirit of its people, expanding market and promising investment climate, making it an attractive location for business ventures.
The discussion was organised by Partners for a New Beginning (PNB) Secretariat at the Aspen Institute in New York on the subject of ‘Entrepreneurship and Investment in Pakistan’, in collaboration with Morgan Stanley and Abraaj Capital.
Representatives from the US Government, the Government of Pakistan, private sector and non-governmental organisation convened to discuss opportunities for entrepreneurship and investment in Pakistan.
There was a clear agreement among participants that while news reports from Pakistan often focus on violence and governance issues, Pakistan had quietly become a potential investment location due to its strong middle class, the fourth largest in Asia, and its energetic entrepreneurial environment.
PNB Steering Committee member, Morgan Stanley spoke of the company’s commitment to PNB and its model of engagement.
“This event exemplifies how PNB is bringing together the public and private sector to implement the vision of supporting economic development in countries with Muslim-majorities, and creating new connections between these countries and the United States,” said Mahmoud Mamdani, vice chairman for the Middle East and North Africa and managing director at Morgan Stanley.
“Capital markets can and should play a critical role in helping strengthen communities and providing sustainable economic opportunity,” said Morgan Stanley Head of Global Sustainable Finance Audrey Choi.
Focusing on opportunities in the small and medium enterprise sector, Abraaj Capital’s Tom Speechley spoke of why his firm is so bullish on the market in Pakistan.
Speechley, who is the CEO of Abraaj’s small and midcap investment arm Aureos Capital, highlighted Pakistan’s competitive information and communication technology (ICT) labour market, encouraging investor protection track record, and favourable comparability with Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.
Representing his views on the private sector, CEO of NTELX Rob Quartel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan professor and founder of the MIT Enterprise Forum Imran Sayeed, and CEO of ConstellationCK Carlos Cashman shared their experiences in Pakistan.
“A business like mine will have been very difficult in the US, but we can do it in Pakistan because the cost is so much lower,” said Cashman. The people of Pakistan are ‘natural capitalists’, added Quartel.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2012.
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