Digital Transformation: Pakistan is Now Online!

Pakistan's digital transformation is in full swing. Over three-quarters of Pakistanis living in the top three metros of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are connected to the Internet, according to a report titled "Journey to Digital" produced by global tech giant Google and Kantara consultants. Researchers found that two-thirds of urban and nearly half of rural Pakistanis regularly use the Internet in the South Asian country of 220 million, the 5th most populous nation in the world. It has a young population with the median age of 22.8 years. 46% of Pakistanis access the Internet everyday.  They use the Internet for education, entertainment, shopping and to search for information.

Over Half of All Pakistanis Are Connected to the Internet. Source: Google-Kantar

Pakistan has seen a phenomenal growth of 3500% in broadband subscriptions over the last 8 years . Pakistanis now own more than 103 million smartphones with mobile broadband subscriptions. In a Youtube presentation of the report, Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google said: “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online!"  

Google Search and YouTube are the most popular Internet applications in Pakistan, according to the study. YouTube is used by nearly 90% of all internet users in Pakistan for streaming music and watching video/TV, and 38% of Pakistan's internet users go to YouTube in the research phase of their shopping journey. 

Pakistan has also experienced an e-commerce boom in the midst of the COVID pandemic. 71% of Pakistani shoppers find purchasing products or services online easy, while 66% find it convenient. Another 54%  find that online shopping websites or apps give personalized product recommendations, which answer common questions. Two-thirds of consumers believe that online shopping is the way forward. They say they will continue to buy products or services online after the COVID-19 pandemic.    

Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google said: “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online! This is the first time Google and Kantar released a study to understand more about Pakistan’s internet population. But it’s not only about people getting online, this research has uncovered new insights and behaviors that show how COVID is impacting online behaviour and the digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked.” 

Global Investors of Pakistani Startups. Source: Google-Kantar


"More people are coming online in Pakistan, creating a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses - if they are ready to seize it. As we see more exploration of the internet beyond social, e-retailers can capture natural cross-category purchasing on its rise, but only if they have first established themselves and their product offering in an online marketplace," he said.

Pakistan Startup Funding. Source: Google-Kantar


With expanding Internet infrastructure and rapidly growing user base, Pakistan is now seeing robust growth in venture money pouring into technology startups. Pakistani startups are on track to attract more than $230 million in funding in 2021, more funds than all the money raised by Pakistani startups in their entire history. A recent example is Kleiner Perkins, a top Silicon Valley venture capital investment firm, that led series A round of $17 million investment into Pakistani start-up Tajir. The startup operates an online marketplace for small store merchants in Pakistan. The announcement came via a tweet by Mamoon Hamid, a Pakistani-American Managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins who led the investment. Last year, Tajir raised a $1.8 million seed round.  The company's revenue has increased by 10x since its seed round. 

Pakistan Technology Exports Trend 2007-2021. Source: Arif Habib


Pakistan's technology exports are experiencing rapid growth in double digits over the last decade. Total technology exports jumped 47% to $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2020-21. 

Pakistan University Enrollment Growth. Source: Encyclopedia of Higher Education

The foundation for Pakistan's digital transformation was laid with the higher education reform and telecommunications deregulation and investments starting in the year 2001 on President Musharraf's watch. With huge increase in higher education funding, Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr. Ata ur Rehman succeeded in establishing 51 new universities during 2002-2008. As a result, university enrollment (which had reached only 275,000  from 1947 to 2003) soared to about 800,000 in 2008. This helped build a significant human capital that drove the IT revolution in Pakistan.      

Here's a video presentation of Pakistan's "Journey to Digital":


Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Digital Pakistan Policy may be launched by end of August


https://www.brecorder.com/news/40109791


ISLAMABAD: The Digital Pakistan Policy (DPP) 2021 is expected to be launched by end August 2021, envisaging providing the necessary elements to tab the digital global market, economic growth and citizen empowerment. This was stated by Member Information Technology (IT) of the Ministry Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Junaid Imam, while addressing at a two-day consultative meeting on DPP 2021.

Oxfam in Pakistan and Bargad in collaboration with Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MOITT) organised consultative meeting on DPP 2021. The meeting discussed ways to include rural youth especially women, transgender persons, and disabled persons in the DPP 2021.

Participants were briefed about the process of developing the DPP 2021 by the ministry officials.

Imam said the DPP 2021 was being formulated through a comprehensive consultative process from all four provinces and the two regions (Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir).

He said the policy was a start to the digital era for Pakistan and would provide the necessary elements to tab the digital global market.

Digitisation is not only about business, it is also for providing services to marginalised groups. Overall objective of the DPP 2021 was economic growth and citizen empowerment, he added.

Sabiha Shaheen, executive director, Bargad said that policy design was as important as the policy implementation. The real issue is to make policy work for the marginalised groups in implementation. Seher Afsheen from Oxfam stressed the need for robust digital transformation.

Highlighting the benefits of a digital Pakistan, she shared how she foresees 'the DPP 2021' paving the way to enable growth and development, especially for the youth and women, who represent roughly 60 percent and 49 percent respectively of the population. Ensuring women and girls have equal access to Information Computer Technologies will help reduce inequalities, support gender equality, increase productivity, and improve access to health and education, thereby ensuring equitable participation in social, political and economic spheres, thus, breaking barriers of isolation.

Digital transformation can help in creating a future that is equal, where women and girls along with marginalised communities will be able to access better opportunities and live without the menace of poverty. Barkan Saeed, chairman PASHA, said the digital policy should specify actionable initiatives.

Rural youth need affordable internet, devices and skills to benefit from Pakistan's potential in export market globally. Raza Sukhera gave a presentation on the DPP.

The meeting was attended among others by officials of the MoITT and representatives of the Federal Commerce Ministry, Kamyab Jawan National Youth Development Programme and Office of the PM Advisor on Youth Affairs, Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Climate Change, National Commission on the Status of Women, Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI), Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES, Oxfam Youth Advisory Board (YAB), academia, INGOs, civil society and youth organisations/networks, private sector, incubators, practitioners of digital social enterprises, transgender persons, differently-abled persons, and parliamentarians. The day focused on sharing the findings and progress of DPP 2021 with the participants followed by group works around three pillars of the policy, which were an inclusion of (1) rural youth especially women, (2) transgender persons, and (3) differently-abled persons.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan seeks WB’s technical, financial support to build digital infrastructure


https://nation.com.pk/04-Aug-2021/pakistan-seeks-wb-s-technical-financial-support-to-build-digital-infrastructure

The finance minister shared with the World Bank team that Pakistan would welcome the knowledge of the World Bank team to promote the skills of the IT graduates in the country. The World Bank team conveyed their willingness for providing guidance and informed that the Bank was preparing an operation on digital economy with the Ministry of Information Technology. In his concluding remarks the finance minister thanked the delegation for World Bank’s continued guidance and collaboration on various development projects.

The minister for economic affairs has also appreciated the World Bank’s continued support to Pakistan. He shared that 57 projects worth $ 12.9 billion are under implementation under WB’s financing in the priority areas such as education, health, social protection, finance, agriculture, energy and communication across the country. During the outgoing fiscal year, the government signed sixteen (16) projects worth $ 3.64 billion with World Bank. The minister also appreciated the World Bank for its global initiative amounting to $ 12 billion to help developing countries for procuring Covid-19 vaccines. He highlighted that Pakistan’s efforts to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic through smart lock down approach and addressing the socioeconomic challenges through fiscal stimulus package under the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of lives and livelihoods is being highly recognised and appreciated by the global community.

While discussing the future interventions, the minister for economic affairs emphasised on enhanced connectivity in rural areas though improved road and digital networks. Rural roads connectivity is one of the key components for rural development. An efficient and reliable rural road network promotes access to social services such as health facilities and educational institutions and enhanced economic opportunities through increased agricultural income and employment. Similarly, cold storage is crucial to control the post harvest losses and price fluctuations of perishable commodities. The minister for economic affairs also highlighted that Pakistan has huge potential to enhance its IT exports. The minister proposed that World Bank may provide technical and financial support to build digital infrastructure including fiber optics network and incubation centres for specialised training and certification of IT experts.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's Marham.pk raises $1 million in seed funding
#Startup hopes to use this funding to boost growth of its #healthcare app. It has registered over 16,000 doctors from 67 cities of #Pakistan on its platform. https://www.brecorder.com/news/40110903/pakistans-marhampk-raises-1-million-in-seed-funding


With the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting lives and livelihoods across the country, health tech startups like Marham.pk look to target those who are in dire need of healthcare by improving accessibility to healthcare professionals.

Hamza, a patient who used Marham.pk’s services, also reviewed Marham.pk’s services and commended its efforts for providing on-spot services.

In addition to providing online healthcare services to patients all across Pakistan, Marham.pk also enables doctors in digitising their practices. The startup manages their appointments, patients’ records and feedback channel through its rating system.

“Our vision is to build a healthcare ecosystem," said Ehsan Imam, the CEO and Co-Founder of Marham. "I believe we are all set to do this because of the 1st mover advantage, well-equipped team, and the ability to sustain through bootstrapping”.

Marham has recently launched additional services for lab test booking and online medicine prescriptions, in an effort to cater to the current needs in the market, by partnering with the leading labs and pharmacy networks in Pakistan.

Asma Omer, Co-Founder and COO of Marham, said that for a developing economy like Pakistan, the digital platform will be a game-changer, as patients will be able to receive “quality healthcare from authentic doctors, which will be easily accessible and affordable”.

The startup currently has a team of over 80 employees, with plans to hire new members in different functions over the next few months.
Riaz Haq said…
Mobile Distributor Plans Pakistan’s Biggest Private Sector IPO

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-06/mobile-distributor-plans-pakistan-s-biggest-private-sector-ipo

Air Link Communication Ltd. plans to raise at least 5.85 billion rupees ($36 million) through an initial public offering this month, which would be the largest from a non-state firm in Pakistan.

The Lahore-based company plans to sell new and existing shares at a price between 65-91 rupees each, Chief Executive Officer Muzzaffar Hayat Piracha said in a reply to queries Friday. It will take investor orders on Aug. 30 and 31 and then price the offering.

Pakistan has seen a record streak of IPOs this year. Air Link, which started operations about a decade ago and has since become one of the largest distributors of phones in the country, saw sales rise 50% to 3.6 million units in year ended June.

The company plans to issue 60 million new shares and Piracha will sell 30 million from his holdings, said Kamran Nasir, CEO at JS Global Capital Ltd., consultant and bookrunner to the transaction. The IPO will be the largest since Interloop Ltd. raised about 5 billion rupees in 2019.

Air Link, which has also recently expanded into mobile assembling, plans to use the funds to expand its distribution network. It aims to have 150 outlets by 2026 from 14 currently, which will boost margins together with the assembly business, said Nasir.

The company expects its revenue to triple to 129 billion rupees and net income surging 500% to 9.2 billion rupees by fiscal 2025 from 2020, according to Nasir.
Riaz Haq said…
In what seems like an odd move for all involved, Pakistan's telecommunication regulator – the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) – has announced approval for Lucky Motor Corporation (LMC) to manufacture Samsung mobile devices.


https://www.theregister.com/2021/08/11/in_pakistan_a_car_company/

The local automobile manufacturer is a joint venture between Lucky Group and South Korea's Kia Motors, and manufactures and distributes Kia cars built in a purpose-built plant in Karachi's Bin Qasim Industrial Park.

"The authorization to manufacture Samsung Mobile devices in Pakistan is a landmark achievement and will further revolutionize the vibrant mobile manufacturing ecosystem in the country by ensuring presence of major local and foreign players in the market," declared the regulator.

The PTA has issued similar Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) authorizations to 25 foreign and local companies to produce the tech in Pakistan. The devices will be both sold in the country as well as exported.

Samsung and Lucky inked the deal back in July. The production facility will be located at LMC's existing Karachi auto plant and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2021.

PTA tweeted, celebrating the job opportunity potential stemming from the new plant:

Samsung's decision to partner with an automobile manufacturer may seem unusual but, according to Pakistani brokerage and research firm Topline Securities, Samsung has form setting up factories in the region to serve domestic and export markets. In Bangladesh, for example, Samsung uses a local factory established in 2018 to produce 95 per cent of the 2.5 million mobile devices sold in-country.

Pakistani English-language daily The Express Tribune offers another reason the Lucky Group could be interested: the paper reported this week that an increase in prices for steel and other raw materials, plus shipping cost hikes, have caused a rise in vehicle prices even as COVID-repressed demand for cars was gradually rebounding.

The deal means Lucky Group has diversified into more affordable products, while Samsung has boosted local capacity, given local buyers a good reason to consider its wares, and diversified its manufacturing base.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s Airlift raises $85 million for its quick commerce startup, eyes international expansion

https://techcrunch.com/2021/08/17/pakistans-airlift-raises-85-million-for-its-quick-commerce-startup-eyes-international-expansion/

A one-year-old startup that is attempting to build the railroads for e-commerce in Pakistan has just secured a mega round of funding in a major boost to the South Asia nation’s nascent startup ecosystem.

Airlift operates a quick commerce service in eight cities including Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad in Pakistan. Users can order groceries, fresh produce, other essential items including medicines as well as sports goods from Airlift website or app and have it delivered to them in 30 minutes.

The startup said on Wednesday that it has raised $85 million in its Series B financing round at a valuation of $275 million. Harry Stebbings of 20VC and Josh Buckley of Buckley Ventures co-led the financing round, which is by far the largest for a Pakistani startup.

Sam Altman, former president of Y Combinator, Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter and Medium, Steve Pagliuca, co-chairman of Bain Capital, Jeffrey Katzenberg, ex-chief executive of Disney and Quibi, and Taavet Hinrikus, founder and chief executive of TransferWise also participated in the new round, which brings the startup’s to-date raise to $110 million.

Stanley Tang, co-founder of DoorDash, Simon Borrero, founder and chief executive of Rappi, Baastian Lehman, founder and chief executive of Postmates, Quiet Capital and Indus Valley Capital also participated in the new round.

Airlift started as a transit business, building a service similar to Uber for air conditioned-buses in Pakistan. The startup quick amassed traction, clocking over 35,000 rides a day. And then the pandemic arrived, disrupting all mobility in the country.

That’s when Usman Gul, the founder and chief executive of Airlift, took the call to pivot to quick commerce, he told TechCrunch in an interview.


“This entire space of quick commerce is on the brink of global transformation. Airlift is in the forefront for leading that transformation in Asia and Africa,” he said. Gul said he plans to expand the service to many international markets in the next few months.

“Airlift’s early traction in Pakistan is a window into the future for how quick commerce will play out in the developing world,” said Altman in a statement.

Airlift today operates over 30 dark stores and processes hundreds of thousands of orders each month.

Gul said the startup has found that setting up these fulfillment centers is the most efficient way to serve the market. “The more middlemen you introduce in this chain between the items and the customers, you begin to compromise the experience,” he said.

Within the first twelve months of launch, Airlift has been able to reduce its cost of blended customer acquisition to $5 and unit costs to $2.50, it said.

Gul said the startup, which today employs over 100 people, plans to expand to more categories including electronics. “The idea is to expand to new categories and build the railroads to move consumer goods from manufacturers to consumers,” said Gul.

He left his job at DoorDash and moved back to Pakistan to start Airlift. “The idea was to create impact at the base of the pyramid and solve problems that would enrich millions of lives — for whom change is desperately needed. That drove my transition frankly,” he said.

“Transparently, when I first met Usman, I knew this was an entrepreneur who was going to create an industry-defining company. Humble, ambitious and strategic, Usman will be one of the great founders of this generation,” said Stebbings in a statement.
Monis R. said…
Pakistani startups and now collectively valued at about $3 Billion and growing fast. 6% of KSE so far.
Riaz Haq said…
#Karachi-based #startup Bazaar completes series A round. #Pakistan's B2B marketplace and digital ledger platform Bazaar has raised $30 million led by #SiliconValley-based early stage VC Defy Partners & #Singapore-based Wavemaker Partners. https://tcrn.ch/3j9oAyj via @techcrunch

A one-year-old startup that is building a business-to-business marketplace for merchants in Pakistan and also helping them digitize their bookkeeping is the latest to secure a mega round in the South Asian market.

Bazaar said on Tuesday it has raised $30 million in a Series A round. The new financing round — the largest Series A in Pakistan — was led by Silicon Valley-based early stage VC Defy Partners and Singapore-based Wavemaker Partners.

Scores of other investors including current and former leaders of Antler, Careem, Endeavor, Gumroad, LinkedIn and Notion as well as new investors Acrew Capital, Japan’s Saison Capital, UAE’s Zayn Capital and B&Y Venture Partners and existing investors Indus Valley Capital, Global Founders Capital, Next Billion Ventures, and Alter Global also participated in the new round.

One way to think about Bazaar is — especially if you have been following the Indian startup ecosystem — that it’s sort of a blend between Udaan and KhataBook. “That’s a good way to describe us,” said Hamza Jawaid, co-founder of Bazaar in an interview. “We had this benefit of hindsight to not just look at India but other emerging markets,” he said.

“We saw lots of synergies between these two. If you look at commerce, you have to acquire every single merchant in every single category differently. Whereas with Khata, merchants in any city and category can download it. So effectively, it’s a great customer acquisition tool for you,” he said on a WhatsApp call, adding that this also provides greater insight into businesses.

Bazaar’s business-to-business marketplace, which provides merchants with the ability to procure inventories at a standard price and choose from a much larger catalog, is currently available in Karachi and Lahore, the nation’s largest cities, while Easy Khata is live across the country.

At stake is a booming $170 billion retail market in the world’s fifth-most populous nation that is yet to see much deployment of technology, said Saad Jangda, Bazaar’s other co-founder. Both of them have known each other since childhood and reconnected in Dubai a few years ago. At the time, Jawaid was at McKinsey & Company while Jangda was working with Careem as a product manager for ride-hailing and food delivery products.

There are about 5 million micro, small, and medium-sized businesses in Pakistan. Like India, even as a significant portion of the population has come online, most merchants remain unconnected, said the founders, who surveyed shops going door-to-door.


“We’ve been investing in FMCG B2B marketplaces across the region since 2017. After working with Hamza and Saad over the past year, we’ve been impressed by their customer-centric approach to product development and the speed of their learning and execution,” said Paul Santos, Managing Partner at Wavemaker Partners, in a statement.

“It’s no surprise that they’ve received glowing reviews from their customers and partners. We’re excited to support Bazaar as they solidify their market leadership and digitize Pakistan’s retail ecosystem,” he added.

The startup said it has amassed over 750,000 merchants since launch last year. And it appears to have solved a problem that many of its South Asian peers are still grappling with: Retention. Bazaar said it has a 90% retention rate.

I asked Jangda if he plans to expand to the ‘dukaan’ category. Several startups in Asia are currently building tools to help merchants set up online presence and accept digital orders. He said the market is currently not ready for a dukaan product just yet. “The B2C market is still developing, so there is not so much demand from the consumer side yet,” he added.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan to set up #technology zones across the country to “provide special incentives to attract investors, builders, and technology companies to partner with the government” and also provide one-window facilitation to local and international companies https://gn24.ae/c3552aad3f02000

Pakistan will set up special technology zones across the country to create new jobs and opportunities for the bulging youth population.

Presiding a meeting on the establishment of technology zones, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the top priority for his government is to support youth by harnessing the power of technology and creating an enabling environment for strong partnership among educational institutions, industrial sector and government.

In the meeting, attended by relevant ministers from all provinces and regions including Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK, the premier directed officials to provide all facilities available in developed countries to the investors, entrepreneurs, and business community in the new science and technology zones in Pakistan.

Pakistan government established Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) in January this year to boost the IT sector and create more jobs in the world’s fifth most populous country.

“STZA is building an integrated technology roadmap to drive innovation and boost economy by leveraging technology and empowering millions in Pakistan” Amer Hashmi, the chairman of STZA, told Gulf News. “This is Pakistan’s opportunity to leapfrog to a new era of innovation” and create a “future brimming with opportunities for young people.”
Riaz Haq said…

Mattias Martinsson
@Tundra_CIO
Have followed #Pakistan for 15 years now. Can't recall any time when VC activity was anywhere near what we've seen over the last few months. Impact of reforms kicking in?
#EmergingMarkets #FrontierMarkets


https://twitter.com/Tundra_CIO/status/1430457972883341313?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan to launch 911 #emergency helpline PEHEL (Pakistan Emergency HELpline) across the country. https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/single-emergency-helpline-911-to-be-launched-in-pakistan-1.81867246

Different emergency numbers will be merged into one hotline

Islamabad: The Pakistan government is set to launch an all-in-one emergency helpline 911 to swiftly respond to call for help across the country.

Different emergency numbers will be merged into one hotline called Pakistan Emergency Helpline (PEHEL). The idea is to launch a service similar to the 911 helpline in the United States.

The project is being implemented by the National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) and the Digital Pakistan initiative of the IT ministry. NTC, which is responsible for providing secure and reliable telecommunication services to government organizations, is spearheading the initiative to help the citizens in distress. The software applications are being developed by NTC and the National Information Technology Board (NITB).

The dedicated emergency response number can be dialled to avail different services including police, ambulance, and other rescue and support so that the citizens will not have to go through different helplines during emergencies.

The decision was taken in the wake of the horrific rape incident at Lahore-Sialkot Motorway in September 2020 in which the victim failed to get any help through the motorway helpline. The incident prompted Prime Minister Imran Khan to launch a dedicated hotline to prevent such crimes and offer citizens immediate help during the emergency situation.

Khan had asked the PM Delivery Unit (PMDU) to complete work on the emergency helpline by December 2020. However, the launch of the pilot project in Islamabad is expected to take another two months. The testing of the service has been completed. The operations would initially begin at Safe City Islamabad.

The PEHEL 911 service would offer a “unified and one-window access to all emergency services” in Pakistan, according to IT Minister Syed Aminul Haq. The IT ministry will provide technical support and infrastructure and the interior ministry will ensure the smooth....
Riaz Haq said…
From Karandaaz on startup funding reform:

https://karandaaz.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Legal-Framework-for-Startups-in-Pakistan.pdf

The de�inition in the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 is very narrow and restrictive as it only covers technology related
companies that are certi�ied with PSEB. After extensive stakeholder consultations in 2019, SECP has proposed several
changes in the Companies Act, 2017 that include the introduction of a de�inition of a startup (Note: The proposed
amendments and introduction of new clauses will be made directly to the Companies Act that will be rati�ied by
the Parliament. At the time of writing, these changes are yet to be passed). SECP’s proposed de�inition for a startup
has been broadened compared to the one in the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 to be sector and industry agnostic, the
ceiling for annual revenue has been increased (from PKR 100 million to PKR 500 million) and a limit placed upon the
number of years of incorporation (up to 10).
A “startup company” is a company that a) is in existence for not more than 10 years of its incorporation; b) has an
annual turnover of not more than PKR 500 million or any other amount speci�ied by SECP; and c) is working towards
the innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services or is a scalable business model with
a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation or for such other purposes as may be speci�ied or d)
such other companies or classes of companies as may be noti�ied by the Commission: Provided that a company formed
by the splitting up or reconstruction of an existing company shall not be considered as a startup company.
Aside from a broadened de�inition, other changes relate to employee stock options, issuance of relaxation of compliance,
share buy-back and protection of minority shareholders. They are brie�ly discussed below.
• Stock Options (Section 83A) and Buy Back (Section 88): Previously, employees’ stock options were only
allowed for private limited companies and shares could only be issued to the business’s founders. Under the
new changes, startups can now set up an employee stock option pool to reward valuable and high preforming
employees. Similarly, share buy-back was also allowed for public limited companies. With the amendments,
the business can now buy back shares from founders who decide to leave the company. These shares are
either cancelled or held as treasury shares.
• Fund Raising (Amendment to Section 17): The changes have also allowed founders to delay putting money
in the business if they have a shortage of funds. This was done with the removal of the condition that
required subscription money to be paid within thirty days. This measure will enable businesses to focus on
product development before fund raising.
• Compliance (Amendment to Section 17): The requirement to immediately engage a chartered account has
been eased. This will enable the business to incorporate itself without bearing the burden of such costs.
• Minority Shareholders (Section 140): To protect minority shareholders, the changes allow owners with
5% of voting power to have a say in the resolutions that are put forth at a general meeting. Previously, only
shareholders having 10% of voting rights were eligible.
Riaz Haq said…
What the 2020 Companies (Amendment) Ordinance means for startups

https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/06/21/what-the-2020-companies-amendment-ordinance-means-for-startups/

The new law takes into account many of the changes that entrepreneurs and venture capitalists had been clamouring for, but there is still a long way to go for Pakistani startups

1. Paying people in equity will become easier
One of the biggest changes in the new law ratified by the President on May 4, 2020 – and one that both venture capitalists and entrepreneurs had been eager to see – is the easing of rules around paying employees in equity. A whole host of rules around this matter are set to be relaxed under the ordinance and could significantly boost interest among young college graduates in working for startups.

The first change proposed is expanding which companies can issue equity compensation. In the previous law, only public limited companies (whether they be publicly listed or privately held) were allowed to issue employee stock options. Now, even private limited companies, especially companies classified as startups, will be able to offer such benefits as well.

“Sometimes when companies are young and new, they cannot afford to pay their employees market competitive salaries. In such cases, they issue employee stock options,” said Barrister Ahmed Uzair, a partner at AUC Law, a law firm based in Lahore. “With the new amendments, now even private companies may issue the same for their employees and may also do so without needing any further approval from SECP.”

Beyond simply allowing companies to issue stock options, however, the company has also made it easier for founders to consider the value of their ‘sweat equity’ – or the value of the work they put into the startup without cash compensation – in the valuation of the company.

“Strictly speaking it [considering sweat equity in valuing a company] was allowed but required valuation by the SECP which ultimately decided how much worth could be assigned to a resource’s worth,” said Uzair.

Under the current regulations, the value of sweat equity would be determined by an independent valuation advisor – typically the advisory arms of major accounting firms – and submitted to the SECP for approval before such valuations could be accepted. Under the proposed regulations, however, startups would be exempted from the requirement of that valuation exercise, which can be quite expensive and often end up costing hundreds of thousands of rupees in advisory fees.

Many costly regulatory requirements have been relaxed for startups
The proposed legislation also seeks to remove many other bureaucratic requirements that may seem minor but add to the headache and cost of running a startup. These include things like the specific time limit during which the company has to deposit the cash it needs for its startup capital, or having a chartered accountant from the very beginning.

The startup capital deposit requirement was one that was created as part of the 2017 Companies Act, and it stated that if a company had declared a certain amount as its paid-up capital, that amount would need to be deposited into a company-owned bank account within 30 days of registration. This requirement has now been relaxed for companies classified as startups.

However, it is not yet clear as to how long companies will now have to deposit the cash, merely that the SECP now has the discretion to allow for extensions in that deadline.

Another requirement that has now been relaxed is the one requiring a chartered accountant. Under the amended law, companies were required to have a chartered accountant – duly qualified and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) – sign off on their financial statements as an auditor.

Riaz Haq said…
What the 2020 Companies (Amendment) Ordinance means for startups

https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/06/21/what-the-2020-companies-amendment-ordinance-means-for-startups/

That, in itself, seems like a reasonable regulation. However, combined with the artificial shortage of accountants in Pakistan created by ICAP, the expense of hiring a chartered accountant ends up being somewhat prohibitive for startups seeking to conserve their cash burn rates. An easing of that requirement, as expected, is welcomed by many entrepreneurs.

Then there are other minor regulations that have also been eased, such as the requirement to have a company seal on all documents that need to be signed by senior company executives.

The number of companies eligible for regulatory relaxations for startups has been increased
An important change in the proposed regulation has been an expansion in the definition of what constitutes a startup. Under current law, a company that has been in operation for five years or less is considered a startup, and there are few, if any, other ways to have a company be classified as such. Under the new regulations, however, companies that have been in existence for up to 10 years will be able to be classified as a startup.

In addition, there will now be other elements of the definition of a startup that will allow more companies to be classified as such. Companies with revenue of less than Rs500 million – or any other amount subsequently defined by the SECP – will also fall under that definition, as will companies that can demonstrate that they are “working towards the innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services, or is a scalable business model with a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation.” In other words, innovative startups.

The expansion of the definition of a startup means that more companies will be able to take advantage of the regulatory relaxations that have been granted to startups under the proposed legislation. The goal of this provision appears to be to expand the scope of the startup ecosystem in Pakistan.

Startups will now be able to buy back shares from departing founders
This provision is likely to be especially useful for the investors and current management of Patari, where much of the founding team has been forced to depart the company owing to allegations of sexual harassment against one of the founders and allegations of aiding a cover up on the part of the others.

In such circumstances – or in situations where founders leave owing to disputes with each other or with investors – it can often create an awkward situation where the departing founder still owns a large chunk of the company’s equity but is no longer a contributing member of the management team. For startups, this is a very common scenario, and one that is made worse in Pakistan by the fact that, under the very recent law, only publicly listed companies were allowed to buy back their own shares.

Under the proposed legislation, startups will be able to buy back their own shares, in addition to all private limited companies. This allows for the amicable settlement of disputes between founders and does not require one founder or investor to buy out others, but rather have the company’s collective resources be made available to resolve such issues.

Riaz Haq said…
The Ordinance provides 100% tax credit and an exemption for startups.

https://taxbeing.com/tax-exemptions-for-startups-in-pakistan/

100% Tax Credit Against Income Tax Liablity of the Startup
Profits and gains of startups were exempt from income tax up till promulgation of Tax Laws (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 on March 22, 2021.

Effective from March 22, 2021, income of a startup is not exempt from income tax; instead, startups have been allowed a 100% tax credit against their income tax liability.

There are SIX conditions attached to eligibility for 100% tax credit. These conditions are enumerated below:

The startup is required to be certified by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB).
100% tax credit is available in the year of certification by PSEB and the next following two years.
The startup has filed the income tax return.
Tax required to be deducted or collected has been deducted or collected and paid by the startup. In other words, the startup has discharged its duty as a withholding agent. For further details on withholding of taxes, read this article.
The startup has filed with FBR the withholding tax statements for the immediately preceding tax year.
The startup has filed the sales tax returns for the tax periods corresponding to the relevant tax year. Therefore, relevant sales tax registration (PRA, SRB, BRA, KPRA, FBR) is also must.
The startups are eligible for 100% tax credit regarding tax payable under any provisions of ITO, 2001 including minimum tax and final tax. However, the startup can be subjected to audit proceedings u/s 177 and 214C.
Riaz Haq said…
In the first two months of the year, start-ups elicited $23.74 million in contrast to the $37.1 million received in 2020.

https://www.dhakatribune.com/business/2021/02/28/bangladeshi-start-ups-attracting-global-backers

The funding in 2018 and 2019 make up almost two-thirds of the total disclosed funding worth $317 million in the start-up segment over the past decade, according to the LightCastle Partners study.

Not all the start-up fundings are disclosed and therefore the actual funding may be higher, the report said.

A total of 78 companies got funding through 146 deals, of which 80 deals were disclosed.

Half of the total fund of $317 million was invested in the fintech start-ups while a third in the logistic and e-commerce businesses.

“It is a very promising time for start-ups as there is a lot of overall interest for investing in Bangladesh, especially from abroad,” said Rahat Ahmed, chief executive officer and founding partner of Anchorless Bangladesh, a New York-based venture capital firm focused on fostering the start-up ecosystem of Bangladesh.

Riaz Haq said…
#Bangladesh #tech #exports in FY 2021 were $1 billion, less than half of #Pakistan's.
https://www.tbsnews.net/tech/ict/government-taking-new-initiatives-increase-ict-exports-194395

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1432857450814660612?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
Digital freight marketplace BridgeLinx raises $10 million in #Pakistan's largest seed funding.This is 20 VC & Buckley Ventures’ 2nd lead #investment in Pakistan in recent weeks after an $85 million round in quick-commerce startup Airlift. https://tcrn.ch/3EikHzo via @techcrunch


BridgeLinx, a 9-month-old Lahore-headquartered startup that operates a digital freight marketplace, said on Tuesday it has raised $10 million in what is the largest seed financing round in Pakistan.

Harry Stebbings’ 20 VC, Josh Buckley’s Buckley Ventures and Indus Valley Capital co-led the startup’s financing round, which Salman Gul, co-founder and chief executive of BridgeLinx, told TechCrunch completed within weeks.

This is 20 VC and Buckley Ventures’ second lead investment in Pakistan in recent weeks following an $85 million round in quick-commerce startup Airlift. Indus Valley Capital, which recently also backed business-to-business marketplace Bazaar, has invested in all three of the recent high-profile investments in the South Asian country.

Wavemaker Partners, Quiet Capital, TrueSight Ventures, Soma Capital, Flexport, Magnus Rausing’s UNTITLED and founders of Convoy and Bazaar also participated in the round.

BridgeLinx is building a digital freight marketplace. The platform connects shippers — such as manufacturing companies, cement factories, textile companies — with truckers and private fleets.

It also provides its tech solutions to ensure documents validation on both ends, timely pickups, port operations and safety of cargo, said Gul, who previously worked at consultancy firm KPMG in Canada.

BridgeLinx has already onboarded thousands of carriers and is moving thousands of freight-loads each week for many large customers, he said.

As is true in India, Pakistan’s trucking system has a big inefficiency problem that continues to drag the economy.

One of the biggest problems faced by truckers is that once they have made a delivery, they have no work left during the return journey. So a truck delivering something to Lahore from Islamabad is likely not carrying something on its way back to the nation’s capital. This decades-old inefficiency continues to cost every stakeholder.

Startups like BridgeLinx are attempting to find ways to make this system more efficient, said Gul, who added that he has closely studied how Convoy, and India’s BlackBuck and Rivigo have expanded their businesses in the recent years.

BridgeLinx, like BlackBuck, currently operates on an asset-lite model — that is, it doesn’t own any vehicles. But Gul said there is benefit in replicating something from Rivigo, which owns its fleets. By having some trucks of its own, BridgeLinx will be able to ensure that vehicles on its platform are operating round the clock by having multiple drivers working in shifts.

“We will eventually have a hybrid of what BlackBuck and Rivigo offer,” he said.

The startup will deploy the fresh capital to expand to more verticals and broaden its tech offerings. It is also working on hiring more talent, he said.

“BridgeLinx has cracked the code for making end-to-end freight work in a hassle free manner and therefore signed up some of the top businesses in Pakistan,” said Aatif Awan, Managing Partner at Indus Valley Capital, in a statement.

“We believe this team is well on its way to bring unprecedented efficiencies to the country’s economy and are really excited to partner with them.”
Riaz Haq said…
Digital freight marketplace BridgeLinx raises $10 million in #Pakistan's largest seed funding.This is 20 VC & Buckley Ventures’ 2nd lead #investment in Pakistan in recent weeks after an $85 million round in quick-commerce startup Airlift. https://tcrn.ch/3EikHzo via @techcrunch


On a side note, it’s fascinating to see Stebbings and Buckley emerge as the earliest investors to back startups in Pakistan at a time when several high-profile venture funds in Asia — including Sequoia Capital India, Accel, and Lightspeed — are yet to make any move in the country. Arguably, it’s the best time to back startups in Pakistan. The internet penetration has grown considerably in the country in the past decade and scores of startups are beginning to build the railroads for commerce, logistics, and payments.

Prosus has backed one startup in Pakistan — ride-hailing firm Bykea — and it recently made its first investment in Bangladesh — commerce startup ShopUp, which counts Sequoia as one of its earliest backers.
Riaz Haq said…
Number of 3G, 4G users in Pakistan reaches 103.12m: PTA

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40121452

ISLAMABAD: The number of 3G and 4G users in Pakistan reached 103.12 million by end-August 2021 compared to 101.59 million by the end-July 2021, registering an increase of 1.53 million, revealed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) data.

The number of cellular subscribers in Pakistan increased by 0.67 million to 185.57 million by end-August 2021 compared to 184.90 million by the end of July.

Teledensity for cellular mobile increased from 84.41 percent by the end of July 2021 to 84.67 percent by end-August.

The total teledensity increased from 86.55 percent by the end of July 2021 to 86.81 percent by end-August.

Monthly Next Generation Mobile Service (NGMS) penetration stood at 47.05 percent by end-August 2021 compared to 46.38 percent in July 2021.

Jazz’s total count for 3G users stood at 7.438 million by end-August compared to 7.598 million by the end of July 2021, registering a decrease of 0.16 million.

Jazz 4G user numbers jumped from 31.745 million by the end of July 2021 to 32.767 million by end-August. Zong 3G subscribers decreased from 4.204 million by the end of July to 4.046 million by end-August, while the number of 4G users jumped from 23.581 million by the end of July 24.099 million by end-August.

The number of 3G users of Telenor decreased from 4.984 million by the end of July to 4.777 million by end-August. The number of 4G users jumped from 17.791 million by the end of July 18.333 million by end-August.

Ufone 3G users decreased from 4.373 million by the end of July to 4.292 million by end-August.

The number of 4G users of Ufone increased from 6.212 million by the end of July 2021 to 6.246 million by end-August.

Riaz Haq said…
Digitization of Rotating Savings
and Credit Associations in
Pakistan

https://karandaaz.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Digitization-of-Rotating-Savings-and-Credit-Associations-in-Pakistan-1.pdf

Executive Summary
This research investigates the scope for digitization of Rotating and Savings Credit Association in Pakistan on the rails of Digital
Financial Service and its potential to increase DFS uptake. 36% of the people in Pakistan save money, but only 4% of those save money
with a formal financial institution, while 33% save through saving clubs called Kamaitis, the local version of Rotating Savings and
Credit Associations (ROSCAs). Its digitization presents an opportunity to bring people to DFS by digitizing a behavior with which
they are familiar.
We follow a Human Centered Design process in 3 phases namely inspiration, ideation and implementation.
INSPIRATION
This phase consisted of semi-structured qualitative interviews with 80 participants including ROSCA organizers, members and nonmembers. The sample was varied across gender, locality and ROSCA size. The purpose of the qualitative research was to investigate
technology ownership and usage, understanding of and familiarity with mobile money and banking services, and how the overall
ROSCA structure works including motivations for joining ROSCA, problems faced in managing and participating in ROSCAs and
the functioning of ROSCAs.
We studied the functioning of and challenges encountered throughout the ROSCA cycle, which consists of motivation, group
formation, formalization, collection and disbursement and assignment, and exchanges.
Following are the main findings from inspiration phase:
• Social capital is an important element in the functioning of ROSCAs, from group formation stage to disbursements, and in
resolving problems which arise during ROSCA cycle.
• The main motivations for joining ROSCAs include forced saving (37.5%), purchasing durable goods (30%), buying or building
a house (27.5%), starting or expanding a business (22.5%), wedding expenses (20%), religious obligations (17.5%), and
educational expenses (15%).
• In group formation, organizer plays the key role and participants are recruited by the organizer. Social capital exists between
organizers and individual members, but not between members.
• Formalization through rules is more prevalent in large ROSCAs (which require legal documentation) than in small ROSCAs
(which rely on rules and verbal commitments).
There are two popular methods of pot allocation: lucky draw and need-based assignments. Lucky draws are more common in
small- and medium-sized ROSCAs, whereas large ROSCAs have need-based assignments. Turn exchange is a very common
phenomenon facilitated by the organizer.
• Collection and disbursement are done in physical cash mostly. Either the organizer has to go to submit the amount or the
organizer has to collect the amount. Collections take place daily or monthly. Women have problems in collection and
disbursement due to mobility issues.
• Record keeping is done by the organizer, and is one of the core functions in managing of ROSCAs, increasing in complexity
and sophistication with an increase in size of the group. Record keeping is challenging for the low literate organizers, who
often seek help from intermediaries, hence compromising the privacy of the group. Women are more avid record keepers.
• Delayed payments are commonly reported, but there is no standard mechanism to handle it. Different groups have devised
different penalties for delayed payments – monetary penalties proved to be dysfunctional due to the high social capital,
therefore, non-monetary penalties were employed by the organizers to deal with these issues.
• Frauds were not experienced personally by any of the participants, but they had heard about instances of fraud.
Riaz Haq said…
Country's first 'Digital Dera' established in Pakpattan - Pakistan - Business Recorder

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40124535

Agriculture Republic, a think tank, in collaboration with the Internet Society Global has set up Pakistan's first "Digital Dera" at remote village of Pakpattan district to train 15,000 farmers of the area in digital farming practices by providing them access to latest technology and resources in the farming sector.

In the first phase, two desktop computers and three tablets have been made available at the Dera which been equipped with a fast brand-band connection in an air-conditioned atmosphere powered by a solar system.

The rise of digital agriculture and its related technologies has opened a wealth of new data opportunities and has the potential to change agriculture for the better. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates, by 2050 Internet of Things (IoT) can help increase agricultural productivity by 70 percent. Technologies such as laser land leveling, solar-powered high efficiency irrigation systems, smart water grids and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now being used for agriculture.

Director General Agriculture (Extension) Punjab Dr Anjum Ali Buttar, who was the chief guest at the inaugural, said that the government was taking all-out steps for introduction of climate smart agricultural practices in the province. He said that changing weather patterns demand introduction of new crop varieties resistant to climate change.

"The Digital Dera is an attempt to empower local farmers through the internet connectivity and access to digital knowledge economy," said Agriculture Republic co-founder Aamer Hayat Bhandara.


https://youtu.be/eM0PfvA4aMg
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #agriculture #startup Tazah gets #2 million pre-seed funding. It screens produce for quality, removes rotten produce. It sorts into categories for specific types of buyers. Now it offers 5 products: ginger, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes & onions. https://tcrn.ch/3lgDm7C

The founders of Tazah Technologies, a B2B agriculture marketplace in Pakistan, met while serving leadership roles at Uber subsidiary Careem. Abrar Bajwa and Mohsin Zaka bonded during long working hours as the platform dealt with COVID-19’s impact. Eventually, the two started talking about creating their own startup. When asked how they got from ride-hailing to agri-tech, Bajwa told TechCrunch that the two grew up in farming communities. “We are from central Punjab and every family there has something to do with agriculture,” he said. “We had seen firsthand how farmers, or people who are involved in small holder farming, do not encounter social mobility based on how the deck is stacked against them.”

Agriculture is Pakistan’s biggest sector, contributing about 24% of its gross domestic product and employing half of its labor force, according to government statistics. But fragmented and complicated supply chains lead to inflated prices, food waste and low profits for farmers, all problems that Tazah wants to solve. The startup, which launched two months ago in Lahore, announced today it has raised a $2 million pre-seed round led by Global Founders Capital and Zayn Capital. Other participants included Ratio Ventures, Walled City Co, i2i Ventures, Suya Ventures, Globivest, Afropreneur Syndicate, +92 Ventures, Sunu Capital, Musha Investments and angel investors like senior executives from ride-hailing platforms Careem and Swvl, where Bajwa worked before launching Tazah.

There are currently about 300 small- to medium-sized sellers buying inventory through the platform and it moves multiple truckloads of produce per day. Right now it offers five main kinds of products: ginger, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Tazah plans to expand into other vegetables and fruits, but wants to ensure that it can guarantee consistent supply and quality. For example, instead of just serving as a marketplace to connect farmer and buyers, Tazah also screens produce for quality, removing rotten produce. Then it sorts them into categories for specific types of buyers.

For example, potatoes are separated into ones for households, restaurants, small retailers, or to be made into French fries, based on what Bajwa and Zaka learned during market research. “We have spent months in wholesale markets, we’ve interviewed hundreds of retailers and we got to know that standardization of product is needed in Pakistan,” said Bajwa. “We get into the bottom of operations, because retailers will know what exactly is in the sack.” This has resulted in a monthly retention rate of more than 80%, and most customers buy from the platform about four times a week.

“We’re not just a box-moving operation because in one sack of potatoes, there can be multiple rotten potatoes, so you don’t want to just buy from farmers and then give to retailers. That doesn’t add a lot of value,” said Zaka. Tazah is currently focused on small to medium-sized sellers who are overlooked by fast-moving consumer goods and grocery product inventory providers because they aren’t able to buy at sufficient bulk. It’s also started talking to other customer segments, including B2C marketplaces, grocery apps and stores.

Increasing farmers’ profits and reducing food waste
Tazah’s founders say fragmented supply chains mean that about 30% to 40% of produce is wasted because they perish or are damaged each time they are unloaded, warehoused and reloaded onto a truck. The company wants to fix that by creating a shorter, more streamlined logistics infrastructure. It plans to keep costs down by working with third-party warehouse and trucking providers instead of owning its own facilities.


Riaz Haq said…
The business heads expressed keen interest to make investments in Pakistan in their respective domains and also briefed them about their companies. The president later witnessed the signing of three MoUs between Pakistan’s Special Technology Zones Authority with Mastercard, Galaxy racer (E-sports) and Shorooq Partners VC Funds.

https://nation.com.pk/10-Oct-2021/pakistan-offers-promising-business-opportunities-to-foreign-investors-president

President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday inaugurated Pakistan Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020. First lady Samina Alvi and Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood were also present on the occasion. The president also visited different stalls of the pavilion where he was briefed about Pakistani products.

The president while meeting with heads of leading investment and technology firms in Dubai said that Pakistan is offering promising business opportunities to foreign investors through one-window operations in sectors of innovation and technology. The President said the one-window facility under Special Technology Zones

Authority is aimed at encouraging and facilitating the foreign investors to expand their information technology footprint in Pakistan.

He said the government has set up the STZA with a mandate to provide world-class digital and physical infrastructure across the country and put Pakistan on global technology radar. The President invited the companies to invest in Pakistan’s diverse sectors particularly in e-business. The business heads expressed keen interest to make investments in Pakistan in their respective domains and also briefed them about their companies. The president later witnessed the signing of three MoUs between Pakistan’s Special Technology Zones Authority with Mastercard, Galaxy racer (E-sports) and Shorooq Partners VC Funds.
Riaz Haq said…
#Netflix cuts prices in #Pakistan to grow #streaming business. The Standard plan now costs Rs 800 per month whereas the Premium plan is now priced at Rs 1,100. The plans were earlier, Rs 1500 and Rs 1200 respectively. #entertainment #movies #online https://tribune.com.pk/story/2324797/netflix-lowers-prices-in-pakistan


While Netflix recently hiked prices in NZ, Netherlands as well as Spain, the company has reduced prices in Pakistan

Last month Netflix announced it is launching a free mobile plan in Kenya as the global streaming giant hopes to bank on the 20 million internet users the country offers. The plan will allow users to sign up free of cost and includes ads.

Netflix has experimented with a different price offerings in different countries to attract customers, esp in developing nations. The mobile plans offered in India and Pakistan are one such example.


Riaz Haq said…
Udhaar Book, a #Pakistani #tech #startup providing cashflow management services for small businesses, raised $6 million seed from VCs like Muir Capital to digitize mom-and-pop stores. Pakistan’s startups have seen record funding rush this year. #Digital https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-07/pakistan-s-fintech-looking-to-digitize-small-stores-raises-funds

Udhaar Book, a Pakistani cashflow management services provider for small businesses, raised $6 million in early funding to digitize mom-and-pop stores that mostly operate using a manual register and handwritten entries.

The Karachi-based startup, whose parent is Toko Lab Inc., raised the money in seed funding from investors including Fatima Gobi Ventures, Plaid co-founder William Hockey’s Muir Capital, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen’s JAM Fund LLC, Integra Partners and Commerce Ventures LLC.

Venture capital and private equity investors are ramping up investment in Southeast Asian nations and India. Startups in Pakistan too have seen the funding rush this year with inflows at a record about $300 million, which is more than the past six years combined, according to data from Crunchbase and Invest2Innovate.

Pakistan is mostly a cash-based economy but startups are looking to change that. The nation is home to as many as 30 million micro-, small- and medium-enterprises that operate manually and deal in cash. Many small business owners such as grocery shops are not able to expand since they need to keep an eye on drawer holding all the cash, Fahad Kamr, Udhaar’s co-founder said in an interview.

Udhaar Book that started last year has 1.4 million registered users and a little over half-a-million monthly active users. The company’s app allows small businesses digital book keeping, inventory, invoicing and payroll management along with other features.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface so obviously expanding the reach of the product is super important at this time,” said Kamr, who moved back from Canada for the venture and was previously a founding member of data portal Capital IQ. “That’s where a lot of the funding will also go.”
Riaz Haq said…
BEIJING, Dec 12 (Gwadar Pro) – Pakistan will capitalize on low banking penetration through digital technology, which has great potential for growth in line with the national financial inclusion strategy, said Shaikh Muhammad Shariq, Vice President of the National Bank of Pakistan while addressing a special conference on the innovation & development of the SCO driven by the digital economy.

http://en.ce.cn/Insight/202112/12/t20211212_37164356.shtml

The participants of Shanghai Cooperation Organization members attended the conference and were committed to increasing collaboration between SCO members in digital economy.

The Chief Representative of NBP in Beijing Shaikh Shariq said that in Pakistan, mobile connectivity is advancing the digital transformation of industries and facilitating the development of new solutions in different areas, and simplifying commercial transactions and remittances between individuals and organizations.

“Pakistan is home to more than 300,000 IT professionals, produces over 25,000 IT graduates annually, and has nurtured over 700 tech start-ups since 2010. Technology exports have grown 15% per year and are expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2022. Pakistan’s online population has grown rapidly and internet penetration is reaching 54% this year” Shaikh added.

He further said that Pakistan introduced its first ‘Digital Pakistan policy’ back in 2018. The primary aim of this policy was to bolster the IT industry by building a digital ecosystem, aiming to enhance connectivity, improve digital infrastructure, increase investment in digital skills and promote innovation, high-tech and entrepreneurship.

“Pakistan’s digital transformation could generate up to Rs. 9.7 trillion ($ 54.86 billion) in annual economic value by 2030. Pakistan is one of the youngest countries in the world (about 60 percent of its population is 15 to 29 years old). IT and IT-enabled industry have the potential to overtake the agriculture and manufacturing sectors in exports”, he mentioned.

Shaikh said that the Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA), is also established, to provide legislative and institutional support for the development of the national technology sector that will harness Pakistan’s IT potential and set the country on the trajectory of an entrepreneurial, innovative, and tech-driven future for shared prosperity & inclusive growth.

“We have 152 Million mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan, mobile wallets reach more than 35 million. Agro-tech is also required to improve yield, efficiency & profitability. Robotics is also a budding industry, and many private corporations, colleges, newly established organizations, and consultants are contributing. Other areas include Bio-tech, travel-tech, IoT & automation”, he said.

He invited all the enterprises to invest in Pakistan and the National Bank of Pakistan will provide maximum facilitation.
Riaz Haq said…
Telenor’s Khushaal Watan platform to empower rural communities and farmers across Pakistan
https://tribune.com.pk/story/2332282/telenors-khushaal-watan-platform-to-empower-rural-communities-and-farmers-across-pakistan

The M-Agri value chain is a billion-dollar market. In agriculture, a value chain is a set of activities and actors that connect basic agricultural products from the field to the consumer, adding value to each stage of the process. Input suppliers, farmers or primary producers, wholesalers, processors, manufacturers, and retailers are the primary players associated with the process. In Pakistan, the dilemma is that the agriculture GDP contribution remains about 24%, even though the labour force percentage is much higher than other industries, primarily due to the low yield per acre.

The main reason is that farming and agriculture yields highly depend on seasons and weather.

With the help of special weather forecasting tools, the platform enables farmers to plan ahead how and when to do things. Insights into the weather conditions are provided to the farmers to enable informed decisions.

The weather forecast and related information can be used for planning purposes. The information can help in understanding whether to start or withhold the sowing process, whether or not to irrigate the crop, when to fertilise, and whether to begin complete harvesting immediately or to delay it – all of which have a significant effect on crop yields.

After conducting extensive research, Telenor Pakistan was able to conclude that lack of information and education on the farmer's side is the primary reason for this disparity. The farmers in Pakistan lack access to the latest research regarding various aspects of agriculture.

Telenor Pakistan understood that cutting-edge digital tools in agriculture could generate significant benefits to agribusinesses in emerging markets. By providing farmers with a pathway to financial inclusion, digitalising agri value chain benefits the overall socio-economic development in the country as well. Farmers need professional advice about the ever-changing situations in real-time to tackle various crop diseases, weather conditions, and more.

The journey starts when a user calls on 7272. Telenor has deployed the latest technology that enables them to automatically get information about the crops based on the caller’s current location. The platform was able to gather extensive data about which crops were grown in different regions during different seasons, allowing them to provide accurate updates.

When a user subscribes, they begin receiving targeted, geo-localised information every day via multiple mediums. Automated outbound calls or SMS notifications are sent, and they can also call back to listen to the information if it is more convenient. In addition, the service is offered in multiple local languages, including Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, Pashto, and Urdu.

Telenor has gone above and beyond in creating a persona for this service. The brand has curated a virtual character, Bashir, who interacts with the user in their language. Likewise, the user can scroll down the menu to view weather predictions, which is crucial for ensuring a healthy yield. Farmers can call and interact with the user in their native language or scroll down the menu to see weather predictions, which are crucial to ensuring a healthy harvest.



Riaz Haq said…
https://pakobserver.net/shorooq-partners-to-open-its-first-office-in-pakistan/

Shorooq Partners, a leading VC firm headquartered in the UAE and with offices across Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain,has been granted approval by Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) for a Zone Enterprise license and will be opening their first office in Pakistan in theIslamabad Special Technology Zone.

Shorooq Partners is the leading technology investor across emerging markets, partnering with startups, and building enduring businesses through seed stage equity and debt funding with afocus on the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

Earlier this year, Shorooq Partners signed a MoU with the STZA to support efforts to build Pakistan’s technology ecosystem in the presence of the Honorable President of Pakistan Dr.ArifAlvi.Shorooq Partners was keen to establish a physical presence in Pakistan to support local founders and other local investors through a series of ecosystem initiatives.

As part of its new office, Shorooq Partners intends to invest and extend its one-of-a-kind value-creation arm to its portfolio companies in Pakistan and give them a real competitive advantage in the market.

Shorooq Partners was early in investing in Pakistan and have done more than 10 investments incompanies such as Airlift, PostEx, DigiKhata, Retailo, KTrade Securities and Tazah Technologies.

Chairman of STZA, Amer Hashmi, reinforced the government’s commitment to facilitating global venture capital firms in the Special Technology Zones.

“The presence of a VC firm like Shorooq Partners will be significant for Pakistan as it will bring global best practices that will enable Pakistani tech entrepreneurs and investors to forge connections on a global level, tap into other markets, and learn from top-tier founders and investors.”

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Customs to Use TradeLens to digitize #import-#export documentation of the containerized cargo. Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Company signed the agreement on behalf of Pakistan Customs. TradeLens is a #blockchain-underpinned #logistics platform. https://www.porttechnology.org/news/pakistan-customs-joins-tradelens/

Pakistan Customs has entered an agreement with TradeLens to digitise import-export documentation of the containerised cargo moving in and out of the country.

The Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Company signed the agreement on behalf of Pakistan Customs with TradeLens, a blockchain-underpinned logistics platform supported by five of the six largest ocean carriers globally.

PSW integration with TradeLens will help Pakistan Customs and other trade regulators to improve their operational efficiency and create value through the blockchain platform.

The immutability of blockchain-underpinned document information is important in the identification of illegal activities, as well as, improving the smooth operation of legal trade.

Pakistan’s international trade ecosystem is being rapidly transformed through the introduction of technology driven initiatives led by the Pakistan Single Window.

The country’s authorities recognise the potential benefits of digitising supply chains for efficiencies, enhanced transparency, and data-driven decision making.

The authorisation to sign the collaboration came from the PSW Governing Council chaired by Shaukat Tarin. The CEO of PSW Aftab Haider formally signed the agreement with Irtaza Hussain, the Regional Head of Network for TradeLens at IBM.

Cross-border containerised supply chains are some of the largest and most complex business ecosystems in the world today. It is not uncommon for 30 independent parties, 100 people and up to 200 exchanges of information to be connected to a single shipment.

With increased complexity comes increased cost. Shippers or beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) need consistent, auditable and immutable data from multiple sources to effectively manage their supply chains.

Marvin Erdly, Head of TradeLens at IBM, commented, “The growth of the TradeLens’ network is evidence that participants from all across the supply chain ecosystem can derive significant value through digital collaboration.

“Pakistan now joins an increasing number of connected Customs Authorities on the TradeLens platform exploring innovative solutions to enhance global trade access and enhance process efficiencies for all involved”.

TradeLens is a neutral platform brings together data from the entire global supply chain ecosystem including shippers and cargo owners, 3PLs and freight forwarders, intermodal operators, customs and government authorities, ports and terminals, and several ocean carriers.

This data allows TradeLens and its network partners to modernise manual and paper-based documents by replacing them with blockchain-enabled digital solutions. It also allows the network partners to provide their customers with deeper visibility into the entire journey for their cargo from origin to destination and reduce uncertainty allowing for better planning and reduced inventory costs.

TradeLens welcomed its first network member in Pakistan, Al-Hamd International Container Terminal, earlier this year.

PSW is an initiative of Pakistan’s federal government with a focus of transforming the trade and industry ecosystem.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has drafted “National Broadband Policy-2021” targeting the contribution of digital/broadband development to the economy to the tune of $5 billion investment and $20 billion revenue by 2025.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40144728

The draft policy also envisages up to eight percent contribution towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from digital/broadband development in the next four years.

One of the objectives of the draft policy is to ensure that 100 percent population living in tier-2/3 cities should have access to high-speed internet, an average per user internet speeds of 50Mbps in major cities and facilitate 75 percent of the internet users with digital bank accounts by 2025.

The draft policy aims at addressing some of the specific challenges; (i) the need for affordable access to broadband for all; (ii) to address the challenges concerning digital divide especially in unserved and underserved areas nationwide; (iii) overcoming the challenges in rolling out the required digital infrastructure and related financing models including extensive fiberization and efficient spectrum management; (iv) harmonization of existing tax regime on telecommunication services; (v) stimulating the development of local and relevant content and services; (vi) the need for improved and consistent broadband quality of service; (vii) urging the importance digital trust over telecommunication networks to promote wider use of digital technologies in all spheres of life; (viii) understanding the impact of internet in terms of socio-cultural developments, economic growth, and environmental sustainability; (x) lowering barriers for investments applied on existing licensees and for new investors in telecom sector and promoting public-private partnerships; and (xi) challenges vis-à-vis accelerated evolution towards adoption of Xth Generation technologies and fiberization, necessary for improving the state of broadband infrastructure.

The policy envisaged for furthering the initiative of “Digital Pakistan”; it is pivotal to craft a policy vision which is user-centric, market-oriented, simple to govern and all-inclusive in nature, laying a strong foundation to address outstanding issues expediently and exploring new opportunities in the most agile manner.

The National Broadband Policy–2021 aims to “revitalise the state of telecommunication by accelerating the efforts for digital inclusion of every citizen in any corner of the country to gain universal access to high speed affordable internet, enhance the use of digital space by providing equal opportunity for socio-economic wellbeing in a safe, responsible and healthy environment through evolving policy and regulatory measures required for timely and sustainable adoption of cutting edge technologies and digital infrastructure”.

Riaz Haq said…
https://www.brecorder.com/news/40144728


The user-centric policy drivers on which the foundation of the National Broadband Policy–2021 is laid consists of the following four major pillars.

The first pillar will focus on the digitally divided people who are yet to be digitally included and will provide guidelines regarding use of existing fibre resources, facilitating infrastructure sharing, introducing national broadband networks and its role in the development of sustainable broadband infrastructure in public-private partnerships, reviewing the role of USF for sustainable penetration of broadband services in unserved and underserved areas of the country further enhancing the capability for use of already laid infrastructure, further assessing the rolling spectrum strategy and offering interventions for resource optimization as well as roadmap for inclusion of new mobile spectrum bands, facilitating the provisioning of rights of ways, plan for commercial use of data satellite and proposal for smartphone adoption and increased local manufacturing of internet devices/terminals in Pakistan.

The second pillar will help in organising matters related to enhancing the use of internet and for market enablement such as; roadmap for service-based competition, review of licensing framework, outlining the future course of OTT platforms and content management, broadening the role of Ignite as research and innovation enabler, facilitating the cloud infrastructure and internet exchange points, reviewing the quality of service rules for improving user experience, developing and implementing new services and technologies in public-private partnerships, supporting with necessary infrastructure and services for enabling social services in the digital space.

The third pillar will emphasise on the privacy and protection of user consuming internet and will help in creating awareness and propose a framework for securing identity and data online, ease of access for reporting criminal activity online, guidelines for constituting CERTs, standardising and implementing user privacy, propose common operating environment and standards for internet security, environment protection support, framework for standardising new technologies and services.

The 4th and final pillar of the policy would help user by providing a transformational roadmap for legacy services and technologies, review the role of different public sector organisations responsible for facilitating different telecommunication services, plan for adopting open source technologies and platforms, broadly identify future technologies and make provisions for early adoption, propose broad strategy for the adoption of internet of everything, and last but not the least provide guideline for international cooperation in ICTs.

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