By Farrukh Naeem
Microsoft came to Pakistan in 1991, since then they worked closely with the Government of Pakistan, the IT industry, Academic Institutions and developers community to usher in some early success in the IT sector.
Microsoft has been the only company that has provided students and young developers in Pakistan, the experience of working with highly skilled professional, some of the finest mentor and all the tools and services required to build their desired product.
Microsoft has established offices in five major cities of Pakistan, distributing its network all across the country. Increasingly, Microsoft has become an important partner of the government and the IT industry through its landmark initiatives for shaping Pakistan as a global product in IT.
Information Technology is the area of science that can help open the door to a whole lot of good things for a country like Pakistan — that is still suffering from low literacy rate, poor medical support and unemployment issues within the rural areas. A lot of these problems can be sorted with the help of solutions that Information Technology provides, which is what Microsoft wants for Pakistan that is, To empower the People of Pakistan with the innovative IT solutions.
Following are some of the Microsoft’s contribution in the IT Sector of Pakistan that are worth an utterance:
HEC & Microsoft Academic Initiative
Higher Education Commission aspired to have a collaborative partnership with Microsoft for promoting the use of Information Technology for improvement of education segment of Pakistan. With the aim to broaden access to education, enable student-centric learning, enhance education with powerful software tools and improve the efficiency of education systems. HEC was committed to the highest standards and use of genuine software for all higher education universities.
To support HEC’s vision, Microsoft guided HEC to take advantage of Microsoft Education Alliance Agreement. This Education Alliance Agreement forms the basis of a partnership to support all communities, giving them the opportunity to enjoy the social benefits of a well-educated population. A proven business model for the state sector and private enterprise to work together to combine expertise, knowledge, experience and resources to ensure successful and sustainable education transformation.
Microsoft’s pivotal role in the development of start-ups ecosystem in Pakistan
Start-ups are critically important for any economy as they act as fertilizers for employment and have many socio-economic benefits. Unfortunately, Pakistan is lagging behind in this area with the lowest “new business density” among the South Asian countries, according to the world bank.
Entrepreneurial activities are the pillar to economic development while this comes with patience, risk taking and some financial and technical support. What if all the technical support that you need to develop, deploy, test and maintain your product comes for free — this is what the Microsoft BizSpark program provide start-ups with.
Over the last few years the technology start-ups have increased in number as well as the number of incubators, among all of them, the incubation provided by the Microsoft Innovation centers stands out when it comes to great mentorship and technical guidance along with all the tools required for building and testing products for start-ups.
There are a number of innovative start-ups that have launched in the market, like laborforce.pk — A part of the Microsoft Partner Network and Gamedotplay — the first Kinect-based Cricket game, incubated at MIC Karachi while TechJuice.pk, Kiascenehai.pk, Capital Stake, travly and RepairDesk are promising start-ups being incubated at MICs.
Microsoft Innovation Centers Pakistan
Microsoft Innovation Centers ( MICs ) are state of art technology facilities for collaboration on innovative research, technology or software solutions, involving a combination of government, academic and industry participants.
Microsoft Innovation centers are currently operating within Karachi and Lahore. Twice a year they welcome students from all across the country to be a part of them as an intern through passing some tests. Around 50 of them are selected to be a part of the internship program for a six months training. Internship at MICs are considered to be prestigious by all the students across the Pakistan as there is no comparison to these internships because of the quality of learning experience that they provide.
MIC-Lahore and Punjab Information Technology Board in collaboration
Together Microsoft Innovation Center-Lahore and Punjab Information Technology Board is taking concrete steps towards enabling startups and help realizing great ideas by incubating those who possess the ability to be a success in the market.
Plan9 is Pakistan’s largest tech incubator, with the vision to instill the culture of tech entrepreneurship among the young developers. MIC-Lahore is providing technical support to numerous start-ups being incubated at Plan9. Some good looking start-ups like Xgear, club internet and Chimera are already utilizing the MIC-Lahore’s technical assistance and BizSpark offerings while being incubated at Plan9.
The Dreamspark program
Through Dreamspark program, Microsoft is empowering the educational institutions and students with all the tools they need, for free. It’s a huge initiative by Microsoft to provide such a complete set of tools and services for free just for the students.
One can think of the amount of opportunities that come towards the young developers as they get some of the best tools and for development available out there as well as the free subscription to developers account, so they can not only make cool things but actually deploy them to the store and show their work to the world while able to make some money out of it as well.
Microsoft Student Partners
Being a source of profound knowledge and guidance for lots of students while building skill, leading student communities and making connections with the professionals this is what being a Microsoft Student Partner is all about. This is a global program from Microsoft.
MSPs are everywhere these days in Pakistan as this program is getting more and more famous among the students community, considering its benefits. Microsoft Student Partners all across the country are hosting tech events, workshops, hackathons and growing and nurturing the community of the future software developers around.
There are a lot more things that Microsoft is doing for the betterment of Pakistan like organizing Hackathons, independently as well as in collaboration with other organizations, holding public tech and general events, empowering schools with computer facilities and so on.
This post was first published on Medium