USAID Launches Challenge Fund to Support Pakistani Entrepreneurs and SMEs

 Islamabad, April 12, 2018American Ambassador David Hale joined the Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan in Islamabad today to launch the USAID-supported Challenge Fund. Implemented by USAID’s Small and Medium Enterprise Activity, the Challenge Fund will support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the hospitality and Information Communications Technology (ICT) sectors.  The Fund will also incentivize the development and diffusion of innovative, scalable business ideas that will benefit both the private sector and consumers.

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.”

Minister of State for Information and Telecommunications Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan appreciated USAID’s efforts to support economic growth initiatives in Pakistan and thanked the U.S. Government for its continued support.

The USAID-supported Challenge Fund provides funding opportunities to startups and SMEs through two grant programs.  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, valued between $20,000 and $50,000, will support the expansion of established SMEs by equipping selected businesses with the financing needed to implement solutions to sector-wide challenges. Legally registered, local for- and not-for profit organizations, individual entrepreneurs, and businesses will be eligible to apply.

USAID’s five-year Small and Medium Enterprise Activity aims to improve the financial and operational performance of SMEs in Pakistan in the ICT, light engineering, textile, hospitality, minerals, and packaging sectors.