SEED Ventures: Driving Social Entrepreneurship

For a prevailing culture of entrepreneurs continuously working on new business ideas and projects, we need a set of talented and motivated individuals with the working spirit required for the task at hand. But more importantly, society needs institutions that foster and support the cause – act as a knowledge base, training resource and center-stage for everyone working in this sector.

SEED (Social, Entrepreneurship and Equity Development) Ventures is one such institution benefiting the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Pakistan. With offices in the UK, UAE and Pakistan and an excess of talent and experience on their team, this institution is well-poised to make a long-term impact on the business landscape in the country.

SEED offers three main sets of services targeted towards problem-solving for businesses:

Connect (Investor-Oriented)

This service is aimed at investors – to connect them with high potential entrepreneurs. SEED provides a comprehensive suite of services in this regard: from analyzing a business and sector to processing and re-engineering their approach and ideas, and then finally putting them in touch with investors. This is a win-win situation for both investors and businesses, as businesses get the consulting services of experts who have been in this field for a long time and investors can have added confidence that the business/sector/idea has been vetted and worked upon by leading experts.

SEED M2M (Micro businesses)

This is both a cliché and a new idea. The overall notion of helping out microbusinesses with business advice and microfinance has been put to use time and time again by different organizations with different frameworks. This could be a different angle, however, if SEED ventures aims to reach out beyond the usual target demographic of these efforts: women. By researching and analyzing these small business models and suggesting improvements,

The question, however, from a social equity perspective would be the kind of impact targeted business advice would have to the sector. This is more an approach issue – the question then is:  are you trying to make some microbusiness operators/owners better off at the expense of the ones that didn’t get your flyers, or are you trying to improve the overall sector and helping these businesses expand into the formal sector?

Sandbox Services (for Expansion-Oriented Businesses)

This service is targeted towards start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. Think of these as hiring consultants to help you assess and improve your business plan. This is a fresh change from the usual incubator systems in place around the country. This is more direct and non-committal from both sides, which means that you can do things on your own rather than becoming limited to utilizing your incubator’s services in every aspect and totally relying on their resources and help.

In addition to providing these services, SEED also puts you in a database for prospective investors.

Projects: Feeding the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

Other than the three services outlines above, SEED is involved in a range of industry knowledge and promotion projects such as an entrepreneurship digital magazine, a Dragon Den’s style TV show, a business plan competition for starups in Pakistan and India (Startup Dosti), surveys conducted with social entreprenuers and heritage preservation in Karachi.

“The Pakineur” is a digital magazine focused on covering entrepreneurship in Pakistan. This initiative was launches in February this year and is a great platform for bringing together the stories and successes of entrepreneurs from around the country.

The Future

SEED Ventures positions itself in the social entrepreneurship and development sector – linking entrepreneurship with social change and impact. With the wide set of tools and services that it has developed, this institution certainly has a long future ahead of itself in terms of being one of the central pivots of this sector in the country.

It is great to see that the organization has a diversified approach extending beyond incubation. It targets both investors and businesses for its solutions, and also does research and journalism for the industry. Another aspect that they can explore is moving on to become an industry association for social entrepreneurs or small businesses, organizing large learning events and conferences as well as lobbying for favorable legislation and industry-wide initiatives.

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