Recent times have seen something momentous happen in the realm of social media in Pakistan. A game changer I suppose it can be called, as never before has such an opportunity been made available to the young and hopeful entrepreneurs of Pakistan.
I am not speaking of the social media summit held in Karachi last Saturday, although that too did its bit to bring together most of the ilk of social media here. I am speaking of the launch of the P@sha social fund. P@sha or the Pakistan software houses association is an umbrella body which helps facilitate and highlight work on not just software made in this country but its related internet and communications technologies as well. This social innovation fund is unique as it will fund initiatives which strive to make social change happen on a grass roots level, community challenges solved by ICT’s (Internet and communication tech). I find it exciting because of the two following areas. Firstly the seed money has been provided by Google and is to the tune of Rs 20 million, no small amount hence the end result will be 25 successful applicants getting a good chunk to start with. Applications are open till August and can be made here.
Judgment on who gets this money will be made by a “neutral” advisory board, which P@sha has brought in from not just the software field but from the circles of trade and industry as well. It includes people like Danish Lakhani, Amin Hashwani, Imran Zia and Sabene Saigol. This will play a key role in ensuring that the money awarded to individuals is done so in a fair manner. Please do note that applications can be sent from all over Pakistan hence people sitting in the rural areas with ideas can come forth now and apply on par with the urban innovators as well. Secondly, once the applicant has been approved they wont be just handed the money, this same advisory board will then take on a mentoring capacity and the successful applicants will get to work shoulder-to-shoulder with these minds to budget, implement and see their ideas become a reality. Succeed or fail, it will be one hell of an exposure for young people to be able to get a chance to try to make a difference and that too with quality assistance and advise at hand. Of course with a fund this large it will be up to Jehan Ara, president P@sha and this advisory board to ensure that complete transparency is shown in the selection process. The world is watching and if this takes off more organizations might donate to this fund and we can see the young people (under 24) which comprise 60 per cent of Pakistan today put to use the energy we all know they have for something constructive. So for those of you sitting at home wondering what you can do for the problems around us? Get some friends, put your heads together and come up with an idea to apply. This is your chance to make something happen not just for yourself but for Pakistan.
Faisal Kapadia is a writer/blogger based in Karachi.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.