Pakistani EdTech and FinTech Startups Win Prizes in International Competitions

Two Pakistani technology startups have recently won recognition in international competitions.  Sabaq, an EdTech startup, has been shortlisted for Siemens Foundation’s global award. Another Pakistani startup Tez Financial Services in FinTech space has been selected as one of the winners of $100,000 Prize at 2019’s Inclusive Fintech 50.  Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is enabling Pakistani technology entrepreneurs to offer technology-based solutions in multiple fields including education and financial services. These young ambitious entrepreneurs are beginning to attract venture investments from overseas. Tez Financial Services has received $1.1 million seed funding led by Omidyar Network.

Sabaq:

Karachi-based Pakistani education technology (EdTech) startup SABAQ has been shortlisted for Siemens Foundation’s global award. The award recognizes and endorses low-cost technologies providing vital services and solutions for daily needs in developing countries. Earlier this year, Sabaq was selected among the Top 6 Global EdTech startups at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.

Sabaq Tablet
Sabaq is among 11finalists selected from a 800 submissions from 86 countries.  It will be compete with other finalists for the top 3 spots in Cairo, Egypt next month. The award recognizes low-cost technologies providing vital services and solutions for daily needs in developing regions. Projects submitted are judged on their technical functionality, local adaptability, social impact, team structure, and financial and business sustainability.

SABAQ has partnered with the National Rural Support Program and identified communities where it has set up SABAQ Centers, non-formal learning spaces for out of school students who are taught using the meraSABAQ Tab. This is SABAQ’s custom-made android tablet that features the meraSABAQ app for primary level, each containing digital learning resources for Urdu, Science and Math, developed in-house in accordance with the national curriculum.

Sabaq Foundation is a non-profit organization that offers a tablet app and a website. The meraSabaq is a custom-made tablet designed to be used both by  experienced and new teachers across formal and non-formal learning environments.  Sabaq's website offers online video tutorials with free video lectures for Pakistani students. The website provides tutorials for four main science subjects -- Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for secondary school students. The tutorials follow the exact syllabus of respective boards of education for Cambridge, Federal, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan.

Tez Financial:

Tez Financial Services is a woman-led financial technology startup in Karachi, Pakistan.  It has Visa Everywhere Initiative Women’s Global Award after Worldwide Search. It is the first fully digital financial institution in the country providing financial services to the unbanked/underbanked population via a smartphone app.

Tez FinTech App
Last year, Tez Financial raised $1.1 million in a seed round led by Omidyar Network, the impact investment firm established by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Other investors on this round include Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of global nonprofit Accion; and Planet N. Funds will help the company build its credit portfolio, enhance its mobile technology platform, and secure the company’s NBMFC (Non-Bank Microfinance Company) license.

The Visa Everywhere FinTech competition measures how competing companies leverage their companies’ unique ability to solve or transform consumer and/or commercial payment experiences locally, regionally or globally.

The founders of Tez were previously involved in the creation of Tameer Bank, Easypaisa, and CheckIn Solutions.

Pakistan Telecom Indicators

Technology Entrepreneurs:

Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is enabling Pakistani technology entrepreneurs to offer technology-based solutions in multiple fields including education and financial services. As of May 2019, there are over 70 million broadband subscriptions in Pakistan and more than a million new subscribers are are being added every month, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority  (PTA). These young ambitious entrepreneurs are beginning to attract venture investments from overseas. Tez Financial Services has received $1.1 million seed funding led by Omidyar Network headed by E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Summary:

Two Pakistani technology startups have recently won recognition in international competitions.  Sabaq, an EdTech startup, has been shortlisted for Siemens Foundation’s global award. Another Pakistani startup Tez Financial Services in FinTech space has been selected as one of the winners of 2019’s Inclusive Fintech 50. Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is enabling Pakistani technology entrepreneurs to offer technology-based solutions in multiple fields including education and financial services. These young ambitious entrepreneurs are beginning to attract venture investments from overseas. Tez Financial Services has received $1.1 million seed funding led by Omidyar Network.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
The share of cash payments worldwide is falling rapidly, from 89% in 2013 to 77% today


High internet use and state support help countries ditch cash
Even within the rich world, the most digitised societies use cash least often

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/08/01/high-internet-use-and-state-support-help-countries-ditch-cash

On july 27th, outside Brooklyn’s hipper-than-thou Smorgasburg street-food market, a dozen hungry visitors stand idle amid the barbecue fumes. Rather than queuing for food, they are waiting at a cash machine. Yet inside the market, vendors are trying to wean their customers off cash. Gourmets who use Apple Pay, a mobile-payment service, receive hefty discounts on their purchases. “Apple pays us the difference,” one trader explains.

Most transactions around the world are still conducted in cash. However, its share is falling rapidly, from 89% in 2013 to 77% today. Despite the attention paid to mobile banking in emerging markets, it is rich countries, with high financial inclusion and small informal economies, that have led the trend. Within the rich world, more-digitised societies tend to make fewer cash payments. In Nordic countries like Norway and Denmark, where 97% of people use the internet, around four out of five transactions were already cashless by 2016, according to a recent review chaired by Huw van Steenis of the Bank of England. In contrast, internet penetration in Italy is just 61%, and 85% of transactions there were still handled in cash in 2016.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: educational app eyes 1m users

An educational app designed to reach refugee and underprivileged children in Pakistan is expected to reach nearly 1 million children across the country by the end of 2020.

https://thepienews.com/news/pakistan-educational-app-eyes-1m-users/

Called Taleemabad, the app is available on mobile and computer and offers access to parts of the primary school curriculum (for example English, Urdu and Maths) through a dedicated cartoon series.

The name of the app, meaning ‘Education City’ in Urdu, is a reference to where the co-founders developed the idea for the edtech start-up Orenda, which developed the app: Georgetown University in Qatar, based in the Education City in Doha.

Orenda co-founder Haroon Yasin, who was also recognised as one of the Queen’s Young Leaders in 2018, told The PIE that the app is at present reaching a total of 106,000 users across the country, also in rural parts of Pakistan.

“The biggest achievements of the app are its reach and the fact that it represents a wider vision of sustainability,” he explained.

Over the next couple of years, he added, Orenda is planning to complete the K-5 curriculum offering, which will propel user numbers closer to the 1m mark.

“Students here take the first state examination after the 5th grade and once we have completed a spectrum of content that can teach students towards that exam, we expect our downloads to have neared the 1 million mark, with 20,000 users paying for the premium features,” he added.

The team is also close to signing a partnership with the government of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, whose support will enable Taleemabad to expand its reach – and its curriculum in the Pashto language.

“There is currently no Pashto language learning platform and developing this will enable us to target the province, especially the areas that have suffered due to terrorism,” Yasin said.

“It will also allow us to target users in neighbouring Afghanistan, which has similarly lagged behind in educational outcomes because of conflict.”

In the long term, Orenda aims to expand the curriculum up to year 12 and reach six million children, Yasin said, perfecting content for varying ability level.

The edtech company is also aiming to widen its geographical reach beyond Pakistan, looking at Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Riaz Haq said…
SABAQ, LUMS Sign MoU To Improve Pakistan’s Education Ecosystem

https://academiamag.com/sabaq-lums-sign-mou-to-improve-pakistans-education-ecosystem/

Award-winning EdTech enterprise SABAQ, and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate for research and outreach purposes in order to contribute towards building a robust education ecosystem in Pakistan. The MoU was signed by Hassan Bin Rizwan, CEO & Co-founder of SABAQ, and Dr Mariam Chughtai, Associate Dean and Assistant Professor at the LUMS School of Education.

This agreement between SABAQ and LUMS School of Education (SOE) will provide a unique opportunity for the involved parties to research and study the strengths, challenges and best practices of SABAQ’s partner schools, in an effort to bring research-backed and evidence-based improvements in the education sector in Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Hassan commented, “This partnership will prove as a major stepping stone in our collective efforts to create an environment of high-quality education. We expect the research to yield insightful information to further help us create a better learning atmosphere for students, improve their learning gains and create a more robust education scenario.”

Founded in 2015, SABAQ is an education technology initiative that has reached 100,000 children in low-cost and low resource environments till date. Its flagship application, Muse, has helped increase access to education technology in over 1,000 low-cost public and private schools in Pakistan.

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