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Why startups are thriving in Southeast Asia and Pakistan

Three people sitting at a table with laptops, in a room full of people.

In the past few years, startups throughout South East Asia and Pakistan have been steadily growing and taking on the regions’ most pressing challenges. From agriculture to healthcare, these startups are building digital solutions to tackle their area of focus.

Recently, the digital audiences in these regions have expanded significantly. In South East Asia alone, 80 million new users have come online since March 2020, boosting activity for startups developing digital products and services across a variety of industries. And we’ve seen that growth as venture funding reached new heights in both South East Asia and Pakistan. In South East Asia, deal activity hit a record US$11.5 billion in the first half of 2021. Meanwhile in Pakistan, startups raised US$350 million in funding in 2021, five times the amount in 2020.

One explanation for this acceleration is that Pakistan and South East Asia both have a thriving youth population. More than half of the population of South East Asia is under 30 years old. In Pakistan too, the median age is only 22. These young people tend to be tech-savvy, have an interest in entrepreneurship, and are more in tune with global trends. With that mindset, they’re often more inclined to use emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain to solve problems and build digital products.

Government support across the regions has certainly helped as well, as local governments have recognised the critical role of startups in their economies — specifically in digital transformation and creating job opportunities. Government-driven initiatives like Thailand 4.0, Indonesia’s 1000 startups, Singapore’s Startup SG Founders, as well as Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s Youth Program, will continue to help aspiring founders get their startups off the ground.

Google is excited to nurture this next wave of tech startup founders with the Google for Startups Accelerator (South East Asia and Pakistan), particularly those that are focused on e-commerce, finance, healthcare, SME-focused B2B solutions, education, agriculture and logistics.

We’re looking for 10 to 15 startups based in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam, that are in the seed or Series A stage. The Accelerator will support these startups by providing the best of Google’s resources: Googler mentors, a network of new contacts to help them on their journeys, and the most cutting edge technology.

Interested startups are encouraged to apply by Oct 7, 2022.

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