ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )
Social Entrepreneurship has immense potential to contribute and to give boost to overall economy of Pakistan. Thus, in the wake of federal budget for the year 2017-18, it was advisable for the government to focus upon this under explored sector that was offering the solutions for many of today’s challenges related to sustained economy. The experts suggested this while speaking at seminar ‘Recommendations for Social Enterprise Sector’ held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Wednesday.
An in-depth research on the prevalent social enterprise policy landscape in Pakistan on the occasion was shared with the participants, the research conducted by SDPI, in collaboration with various knowledge partners suggested that urgent policy interventions are required to provide an enabling environment and a level playing field for social entrepreneurs in the country. The research further explained that the fiscal policy measures were also required to bring down the cost of doing social business for the welfare of the poorest of the poor.
Dr. Vaqar Ahmad, Deputy Executive Director SDPI earlier suggested that government support to social enterprises could be started by giving a legal definition to social enterprise entities. The Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Planning Commission, he said, could work with provincial Planning Departments and support social enterprises (SEs) through provincial development plans.
Besides, Dr, Vaqar said, forthcoming budget could provide for support to start-ups towards the capacity building and organizational development needs of such entities. Likewise, Federal Board of Revenue was needed to consult SEs and hence, devise a tax regime that values social impact. Ministry of Finance and State Bank should also come forward to evaluate the factors why formal finance is not reaching the SEs and put in place corrective measures which boost lending to SEs. In addition to that, federal and provincial governments could take measures to encourage SEs through public procurement of goods and services, he concluded.
Realizing the need for greater reforms, Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh Chairman of National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue said that we have social enterprise on the agenda of the committee’s forthcoming meeting and the committee will welcome and consider the recommendations from SDPI to formulate or amend laws for the sector. He said the committee has been discussing the simplification of SECP laws, which also will help the sector. Further he said government should give more attention to the sector for greater society benefits.
Zeenia Faraz, Head of Programmes-Society British Council stressed the need for greater awareness raising at the grass route level for social enterprise to create the culture of social entrepreneurship in the society. She said that there are lots of young people are taking interest in the social entrepreneurship, which needs to encourage. She said such inspiring young leaders need to be listened for the strengthening of the sector. Social entrepreneurship has the potential of resolve the big issues, such as unemployment in the country, she added.
Faraz Khan CEO Social Entrepreneurship & Equity Development (SEED) said that in near future, social enterprise is going to contribute significantly to the economy of the country. However, the sector needed more structure policy and regulation and a policy platform, where challenges and hurdles can be discussed to help improve the sector.
Omar J Ghani South Asia Regional Director ENCLUDE said that social entrepreneurship is a self-sustainable sector, but unfortunately, the sector lacks legal structure and regulatory framework. He said the regulators need to come forward and help support the sector by introducing a supportive legal framework and provide level playing field for the growth of the sector.
Rabia Shoaib Ahmad Director Corporate Advisory Council NUST said by integrating technology in social entrepreneurship, societal issues can be tackled innovatively. For that business community and academia should come forward and help the social entrepreneurs’ students by turning their ideas into sustainable businesses. She said social entrepreneurship has the potential to help achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Ahmed Qadir, Director General International Affairs Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) said the consumers and society want better options for the services provided to them. So, there is demand in the market and social enterprises have the potential to innovative and better solutions to local need. Social enterprise should be seen as enhancing economic activity, helping the community and promoter of innovation and technology, he said.