Pakistani small and medium businesses secure more than $3.5 million in business deals

13 October 2023
ITC News

Forty-six small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including 14 dynamic start-ups, displayed their products and services at the Food and Agriculture Exhibition recently held in Karachi, Pakistan.

The exhibition enabled the SMEs to engage with more than 600 global exporters and thousands of national buyers in attendance.

This resulted in the signing of 25 Letters of Intent (LoIs) by SMEs and lead firms, securing business deals estimated at more than 3.5 million with national and international buyers with the help of the International Trade Centre (ITC).

Notable among them were the partnership between ITC and lead firms including SixB and Daraz, a major online e-commerce platform.

ITC’s Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) project, funded by the European Union, partnered with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) for this first of its kind food and agriculture exhibition in the country.

With a dedicated pavilion at the event, the GRASP project underpinned its commitment to driving trade growth and empowerment in Pakistan.

The exhibition provided a unique platform for food and agriculture related Pakistani businesses to showcase their products and services to international buyers and develop linkages for enhanced domestic and international trade.

Spanning the horticulture sector, the enterprises showcased a diverse range of products, from environmentally friendly vegan leather crafted from banana fiber produced in Sindh province, to delectable ripe mangoes and exquisite dates from Balochistan.

Women-led businesses were prominent participants, highlighting the integral role of gender empowerment in driving economic growth.

On the sidelines, ITC also hosted a seminar on "Exporting food to the EU: identifying markets, meeting standards and creating packaging that sells," delving into the intricacies of exporting food products to European markets.

Attended by over 300 participants, the session underscored the interest of Pakistan agro-export businesses in the European market.

As part of the GRASP agri-tech incubation program, start-ups availed of the opportunity to pitch their business plans to a panel of lead firms and investors. Two standout start-ups clinched a prize of $5000 each, a testament to the potential for innovation and growth within the agriculture and horticulture sectors.

A highlight was the formalization of collaboration. ITC and TDAP solidified their commitment to jointly promote trade in Pakistan through a Letter of Intent. This partnership serves as a concrete step towards uplifting SMEs and fostering sustainable trade growth.

By elevating SMEs, embracing innovation, and nurturing partnerships, ITC has set the stage for a new era of economic growth and sustainability for Pakistan.

GRASP, a European Union funded project for poverty reduction and sustainable inclusive economic growth in rural Pakistan, is being implemented by ITC in partnership with FAO, SMEDA, and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF). Focused on selected districts of Balochistan and Sindh, ITC and its implementing partners are providing technical assistance in the livestock and horticulture sectors for improving commercial viability of SMEs and for a conducive policy regime.