High-Tech Startup Investment Opportunities in Pakistan

Guest Post by Khurram Zafar

I believe that the technology entrepreneurship ecosystem in Pakistan is at a tipping point! There are a number of factors at play that make Pakistan so ripe for both local and international investors looking to invest in the tech space:
  • Quickly growing internet adoption currently estimated to be 25 million internet users and 15 million mobile internet users;
  • Cheap smart phone devices costing under $50;
  • 3G and 4G rollouts;
  • Massive amounts of marketing and media spend by companies like Rocket Internet, Schibsted, and Naspers that’s targeted to make Pakistani consumers comfortable transacting online;
  • Development of platforms like The Foundation at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship and Plan9 that are supporting passionate entrepreneurs during their formative years;
  • Slow but steady investments flowing into startups at seed (e.g. Kima Ventures investment into Eyedeus Labs) and early stage (Frontier Digital Venture’s US$3.5 Million investment into PakWheels.com) from local and foreign angels as well as early-stage funds;
  • Tens of millions of dollars being poured into developing pervasive electronic and online payment infrastructure in Pakistan (you have to take my word for it, but telcos and major banks will soon start announcing these plays);
  • Successful entrepreneurs returning from abroad and providing mentoring to startups and building bridges for them outside of Pakistan;
  • Gradual realization by seasoned businessmen and young aspiring entrepreneurs alike that internet has a massive equalizing power and they can tap into a global market of billions through online channels;
  • Low cost of starting a technology business due to easy access to cloud computing platforms; massive distribution channels like the PlayStoreAppStore and Facebook; ability to create very targeted online marketing campaigns; inexpensive outsourcing of development tasks to freelancers; and quick feedback from customers to iterate and improve the products and services;
  • Ease of doing a tech business in Pakistan compared to the red tape and bureaucracy that has to be dealt with while setting up an industry (in fact, software exports still enjoy a complete tax holiday in Pakistan);
  • Excellent leverage on HR that tech (product) businesses provide compared to any other business and we all know that good HR is a constraint anywhere in the world;
  • And lastly, because tech businesses are not as widely impacted by security, electric power shortfalls, gas load-shedding and others infrastructure issues plaguing the rest of the industries in Pakistan.
You inject a bit of capital to catalyze all this further in the 6th most populous (196 Million) country in the world, and we can have a perfect storm that can turn the Pakistani technology startups of today into the giant global businesses of tomorrow!
How long will you keep pumping money in sugar and textile mills? Let me share something that might shed some light on the opportunity that I am ranting about. The following chart compares the annual profit before taxes of a single games company based in Finland, a country with half the population of Lahore, employing only 120 people (which recently took over Nokia’s old R&D facility) with multiple publicly listed companies in Pakistan belonging to various industrial segments. Here are some eye opening inferences in case they are not readily evident:
  • One mobile gaming company in a country with half the population of Lahore makes more profit before taxes than ten of the largest cement companies in Pakistan
  • One mobile gaming company in a country with half the population of Lahore makes more profit before taxes than two companies that distribute natural gas to the entire Pakistan
  • One mobile gaming company in a country with half the population of Lahore makes more profit before taxes than five power generation companies and two oil refineries combined
  • One mobile gaming company in a country with half the population of Lahore makes more profit before taxes than nine of the top textile mills, five automobile companies and 5 sugar mills combined
Mobile Gaming vs Multiple Industries
Comparison of profit before taxes (FY2013) of a single mobile gaming company with various industries in Pakistan
Here is another chart to drive home the point.
  • One mobile gaming company in a country with half the population of Lahore makes more profit before taxes than any one of the largest banks in Pakistan
  • One mobile gaming company in a country with half the population of Lahore makes 6 times more profit before taxes than National Bank of Pakistan
One Mobile Gaming vs Multiple Banks
Comparison of profit before taxes (FY2013) of a single mobile gaming company with various banks in Pakistan
Alright, so I have used one of the most successful games development companies for comparison, but that is besides the point. The point is, the next big games development company could be Mindstorm Studios based right here, in Lahore. The fact that it’s based in Pakistan does not minimize its chances of success. It’s as good an investment opportunity as Supercell of Finland!
One of the incubated companies at the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship, interaCta, has developed tech to make all TV and radio broadcast interactive without the need of additional hardware, just requiring smart phones. Imagine the implications! It can disrupt the TV, Radio, Advertisement, Ratings industries just to name a few. A potential acquirer wouldn’t care whether the tech was developed at Xerox or LUMS. Eyedeus Labs, another team of LUMS students, recently raised money from Kima Ventures. They are looking to disrupt online video advertisement market by introducing non-intrusive advertisement methods in the videos that do not distract the viewer. Then there is SavareeBizCloutBurq SolutionsJewelryDesignProP for Plan and the list goes on. All of these are great investment opportunities seeking capital. And these are just a few of the seed stage investment opportunities.
I repeat. This is a great time to enter Pakistan. Equity in technology companies is relatively cheap, assets are portable (predominantly intellectual property) in case one gives too much weight to country risk, operations are already on cloud platforms outside of Pakistan for many, and exit opportunities exist globally. The fundamentals of the on-ground businesses are already very strong. The Karachi Stock Market index has been growing north of 40% for the past few years (30%+ in $ terms) and broke the highest ever 32,000 KSE 100 index points barrier a few days ago. Most of that is driven by foreign investment into rock solid businesses by investors who can see past the FOX news propaganda and realize that the nation, that is often deemed to be on the brink of extinction since its founding in 1947, is as resilient as it is resourceful!
It is time local investors join the party as well. Pakistan is a gold mine of opportunities for the truly visionary, local investors with large balls and an appetite for risk looking for big rewards – people who can consider and invest in the opportunities lurking underneath the veil of ‘mostly perception based’ geo-political and security issues. If you are it, sign up as an investor at http://lce.lums.edu.pk/contact-form for starters.
Disclaimer: The author advises, mentors or has some sort of a non-compensatory advisory relationship with almost all the local startups listed in this article. This post reflects the author's assessment of the tech startup scene and the investment opportunities he sees in Pakistan. The owner of this blog does not necessarily agree with the contents of this guest post. 

The author is Executive Director, LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship.
This post was first published on techies.pk

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
E-Commerce in Pakistan: The Party Has Started by Monis Rahman

Pakistan is late to the party. E-commerce is booming throughout our immediate region. India's leading e-commerce website, Flipkart, recently raised a record $1 Billion in new investment, handling 5 Million shipments each month. The website sees so much potential in mobile shopping that it has a stated goal of becoming "the mobile e-commerce company of the future".
To our north, China's e-commerce leader, Alibaba, set a global record when it listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in September. Alibaba's Initial Public Offering raised a staggering $25 Billion, making its record-breaking IPO the biggest in the world. Today the Chinese e-commerce giant's market capitalization is over $250 Billion exceeding that of Wal-Mart, the world's largest old economy retailer. The market value of e-commerce companies in Pakistan's immediate vicinity including Turkey, the Middle East, India and China exceeds half of a trillion dollars.
But the party has indeed finally started in Pakistan as well. By 2017, the size of our e-commerce market is expected to reach over $600 Million from it's current size of $30 Million spent on online purchases annually. There are several factors driving this growth, which will dramatically change the way we buy things over the next several years.
Growth of Internet Penetration
Pakistan's Internet penetration rate historically exceeded that of India until 2009. In 2009, India launched 3G and its Internet penetration sky-rocketed. The same hockey stick growth took place in Sri Lanka's after its 3G launch in 2006. With Pakistan's long awaited entry into the 3G club a few months ago, there will be a similar burst of Internet accessibility which will further catapult online purchases.
Following the pattern of our neighbors, Pakistan's Internet enabled population will increase from 30 Million users today to 56 Million in 2019. Over the next five years, 28% of the country's citizens will have Internet access. This unprecedented reach will transform not just how consumers purchase goods, but will also significantly impact several other industries. My own online jobs classifieds site, ROZEE.PK, today processes 40,000 job applications a day and has helped over 1 Million people find jobs. Social media sites including Facebook and Twitter are transforming how we consume news and shape opinions.
Ubiquity of Access through Mobile
Along with the rise of Internet accessibility through 3G, Pakistan is simultaneously witnessing a surge in smartphone usage. There are an estimated 9 Million smartphone users in Pakistan, using handsets that are fully equipped with web browsers and online connectivity. Smartphones have become increasingly sophisticated, not only substituting many functions previously only capable through desktop and laptop computers, but also greatly increasing the ease of going online. Not only is the Internet becoming more accessible to consumers, consumers are also becoming more accessible to Internet merchants through the ubiquity of the smartphones in our pockets.
While the growth of smartphones in Pakistan is linked to the rise of Internet penetration, it is more so driven by the declining cost of increasingly sophisticated devices. Chinese companies which have traditionally manufactured devices for the world's leading mobile phone brands including Apple and Samsung, are now OEM'ing their own handsets for a fraction of the cost powered by Google's Android operating system. So significant is this trend that Samsung's third quarter profits fell by 50% as its mobile business continued to lose ground to low-cost Chinese smartphone makers.

http://www.rozee.pk/brecorder/e-commerce/
Riaz Haq said…
The rise of Pakistan’s startup ecosystem: Shifting traditions and inward inspiration


Just two months ago, e-commerce company Markhor, which works with local artisans to produce high-quality men’s leather shoes, became Pakistan’s most successful Kickstarter campaign, raising seven times more than its intended goal, catching the attention of Seth Godin and GOOD Magazine.

There is no greater evidence of this positive change than in Pakistan’s burgeoning technology ecosystem. In a new report released by my company, Invest2Innovate – which was commissioned by the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) – we mapped the number of startup competitions, incubators, university programs, coworking spaces and forums, and analyzed the gaps and challenges entrepreneurs continue to face in the country.

Three years ago, the ecosystem was relatively nascent, with just a handful of organizations. Today, the space is unrecognizable and brimming with constant energy and activity.

A closer look at Pakistan’s tech scene

Plan9, the country’s largest technology incubator launched by the Punjab Information Technology Board, recently announced PlanX, its new startup acceleration program. The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), one of Pakistan’s top universities, recently graduated the first class of incubatees from its Foundation program.

The IT trade association, Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES will soon launch Nest i/o, a Karachi-based technology incubator seeded by Google, Samsung and the US Department of State. Coworking spaces like Basecamp in Peshawar, DotZero and HQ in Karachi and TechHub in Lahore are sprouting all over the country – providing space to fledgling and growing companies.


Hackathons and Startup Weekends are producing startups like Savaree (a ride-sharing application similar to Lyft) and Groopic (a photo editing application), and online publications like TechJuice and PakWired also provide constant coverage of rising companies, events and other startup-related news.

While this phenomenon is not unique to Pakistan – we are watching startup communities sprout and thrive all over the world – there are several factors that make us hopeful about the growing ecosystem.

First, Pakistani entrepreneurs have largely led the growth of Pakistan’s ecosystem. In his book, Startup Communities, author and cofounder of TechStars Brad Feld noted that leaders of a growing startup community must be entrepreneurs who have a long-term commitment to growing the ecosystem and “must be inclusive of anyone who wants to engage with the community.”
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For example, DotZero, one of Pakistan’s first major coworking spaces, was cofounded by four successful technology entrepreneurs based in Karachi. The Karachi Institute of Technology & Entrepreneurship (KITE), established in by a Pakistani entrepreneur, is providing an alternative and innovative learning environment to students wishing to enter the technology sphere.

Second, though security issues, corruption, and political instability have increased the perceived risk for foreign investors, it has also in turn caused Pakistanis to look inward, build indigenous networks, and replicate models that have worked in other countries for the local market.

As a result, we’ve seen an ecosystem that is being built by Pakistanis for Pakistan. Moreover, given that 2/3 of Pakistan’s 180 million people are under 30 years old, we have a young population who are hungry and determined to change the environment around them. Young Pakistanis are launching local chapters of global brands like TEDx, Startup Weekend and Startup Grind, further fostering idea generation and the dialogue around innovation.


http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2014/12/20/rise-pakistans-startup-ecosystem-shifting-traditions-inward-inspiration/
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan-born Imran Aftab was traveling in 2004 when an AOL Time Warner colleague posed a rude question.

“Imran, you’re from Pakistan, yet you seem normal,” Aftab recalled. “What is the problem with the rest?”

Aftab, then director of global outsourcing at AOL, spent half an hour explaining that there was more to the millions of Pakistanis than the public perception after the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy.

“People see all bad news. I thought, ‘How can I change things even at a small scale through business?’ ”

After that trip, the chemistry major decided to use his knowledge of outsourcing at AOL to start his own business that could make money while also helping his fellow citizens in Pakistan.

The business he created is called 10Pearls, a profitable custom software company based in Herndon, Va., and Pakistan. The company has more than 150 software experts supervised by Aftab’s brother in a 33,000-square-foot office in Karachi. Only about 15 employees work in Herndon.

Aftab creates customized software for all kinds of interfaces, including mobile platforms, kiosks and Web sites. Clients include NVR, Time Warner Cable, Discovery Education, National Geographic and Zubie, a spinoff of Best Buy.

For Zubie, 10Pearls helped develop an Android and Apple application that allows people to see where their cars are located, diagnose auto repair issues and track historical routes.

Although 10Pearls is relatively small, with revenues of less than $10 million, Aftab said it has been profitable since it began 11 years ago making Web pages for handyman businesses.

The company, which Aftab calls a social experiment, reminds me of the “double bottom line” businesses that Washington sports mogul Ted Leonsis espouses. That refers to business that earns profits while accomplishing some social good.

“I see that business causes positive impact,” said Aftab, who makes three visits a year to his native country. “It can change things even at a small scale. Business is a good way for people to learn about each other.”

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He knew the bigger money was in developing software applications, but he had to build experience first. He quit AOL Time Warner in 2005 and worked as a consultant while he grew 10Pearls.

Bigger contracts started coming in, including one from a big telecommunications firm that needed help. During the Great Recession that started in 2008, business stagnated and 10Pearls pivoted to mobile applications.

“I could see that mobile was going to grow explosively,” he said.

The company’s big break arrived in 2011, when it won a highly competitive contract to build a mobile application for Social Radar, a Washington company started by Blackboard co-founder Michael Chasen. A key part of Social Radar’s business is that the app allows users to interact with people in the immediate vicinity.

The deal with Chasen helped establish 10Pearls’ credibility. That led to more and larger mobile app contracts....


http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/pakistan-native-tries-to-demystify-his-native-country-with-software-start-up/2014/12/20/c897fc30-8499-11e4-b9b7-b8632ae73d25_story.html
Riaz Haq said…
Farhan Masood, founder of SoloInsight, has been given the prestigious award of Entrepreneur of the year at Open Karachi’s flagship event eCon14. Masood is a name known to everyone in the tech industry for he has been scoring plethora of achievements for the country and himself.

eCon14 happened earlier today at Karachi where entrepreneurs and business leaders participated from all over the country. The event provide networking opportunities to aspiring entrepreneurs in order to build an Entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan.

Masood was given the award of Entrepreneur of the year in recognition to his contribution, commitment, and performance. He is the role model for all the up and coming aspiring entrepreneurs of Pakistan. Earlier this year, during an interview on Voice of America, he discussed his entrepreneurial journey, his struggles of starting from scratch and rising from ashes to secure 3 million dollars of investment and then finally moving the business to America with fancy clientele all over the world.


http://www.techjuice.pk/farhan-masood-awarded-with-entrepreneur-of-the-year-title-at-econ14/

SoloInsight Inc. is an innovative electronics engineering and IT company working in the fields of research and development of diverse intelligent pattern recognition technologies and products. As a technology provider with core expertise in computer vision, Solometrics provides the development of technologies and solutions related to the human recognition that targets the security market. Leveraging the most advanced multi model biometric platform for face & retina recognition, our solutions provide a circle of trust around all aspects of the identity and the credentials assigned to it. This includes enrollment, registration, usage, access and reporting.

SoloInsight has specialized in Face, Eyes and Fingerprint recognition based Access Control hardware, software and integrated solutions. We have successfully catered our solutions to environments where other biometric devices did not work efficiently. Face and Retina Recognition is getting more popular because its performance has improved radically over the years. SoloInsight is amongst the pioneers in biometrics industry. Having reached accuracy rates of around 99%.


http://live.soloinsight.com/
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s 2nd Annual Start-Up Cup competition launched

To promote and assist the local entrepreneurships across the country, the 2015 Pakistan Start-Up Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition launched here on Saturday.

The Start-Up Cup is locally driven business model competition open to any idea. This innovative community-based approach is designed to increase the quality and quality of entrepreneurs in the community.
The US Embassy in Islamabad and the Islamabad Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Chapter, in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council, launched the 2015 Pakistan Start-Up Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition. Entrepreneurs selected to participate in Start-Up Cup will receive coaching through multi-day “Build-a-Business” workshops and regular mentoring to help turn their ideas into a commercial reality. Prize money of $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000 will be awarded to the winner and two runners-ups with the best Start Up concept.
At the opening ceremony, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Islamabad Thomas E Williams, said, “Programs like Start Up Cup foster greater inclusiveness in Pakistan’s economy, particularly for women. The entrepreneurial solutions that arise from competitions such as Start-Up Cup foster inclusiveness, grow economies, promote stability, expand the international supply chain, and spread the exchange of ideas.”
Over the course of the seven-month programe, aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs will learn to design viable business models, develop customers, and launch their start-up business concepts in the marketplace.
This year’s programme will build on the success of last year’s Start-Up Cup, which saw over 400 entrepreneurs compete for one of the top three prizes. Last year’s winning team went on to defeat 170 other entrepreneurs to win the first-ever World Start-Up Cup competition in Yerevan, Armenia.
The 2015 Start-Up Cup in Pakistan will introduce new partnerships with entrepreneurship centres across Pakistan, including the world’s first Women’s Entrepreneurial Centre of resources, education, access, and training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) in Islamabad sponsored by the US Department of State in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council; the Lahore University for Management Science (LUMS) Centre for Entrepreneurship; and Karachi-based technology incubator “The Nest I/O.”
The partnerships between Start-Up Cup and these centres will ensure that newly established businesses receive sustained support and mentoring, essential tools for long-term success. Numerous US Embassy programmes assist Pakistan’s entrepreneurs by increasing their access to financial resources, supporting opportunities for entrepreneurship education, and nurturing an entrepreneurial culture.
There are four base stations for this program, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi with overall prize money of Rs22.5 million.
During the opening ceremony esteemed businessman and Islamabad TiE Board member Imtiaz Rastgar said, “StartUp Cup has only came to Pakistan two years ago and already tremendous feats have been achieved as new voices and ingenious minds have been brought to the fore. One can only imagine how much advantage this competition will bring as the years progress”.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/22-Feb-2015/pakistan-s-2nd-annual-start-up-cup-competition-launched
Riaz Haq said…
Plan9 partners with FundingLab to launch Pakistan's first crowdfunding platform: Pakistanis to invest in Pak startups pic.twitter.com/yiluZV7p67
Riaz Haq said…
Startups in Asia – or any other developed country, for that matter – often complain of a lack of talent in their respective countries. Yet Pakistan boasts of a massive freelancing population. In 2013, there were reportedly 2 million Pakistani freelancers on oDesk, making it the fifth largest contributor globally. oDesk vice president Matt Cooper told The Express Tribune that the “quality of projects delivered by Pakistani freelancers is at par with our top freelancer countries from around the globe.”

Pakistan is slowly but surely joining the high-speed internet world as well. It was late to the game with 3G and 4G mobile services. The latter arrived only in April last year, but ended 2014 with close to 8 million subscribers – slightly more than Singapore, who first got 4G in early-2013. Meanwhile, another 15 million people access the internet from their mobile phones – that’s half of the total number of internet users in the country. It is expected that the number of broadband subscribers will rise to 45 million by 2020.

There are a number of local startups who have made a name for themselves on the world stage, too. Enterprise social network Convo, who raised US$5 million from a US-based VC firm Morgenthaler Ventures in 2013, is widely hailed as an example of Pakistani ingenuity. Morgenthaler Ventures has invested in big names such as Apple and Evernote.

Fashion-with-a-mission startup Popinjay has produced a series of high-end handbags that have received rave reviews from several national and international media platforms, and even in fashion shows. Online car portal PakWheels also recently grabbed US$3.5 million from Malaysia-based VC Frontier Digital Ventures.

See: Popinjay dreams of making poverty a thing of the past for Pakistani women
More importantly, the high-flying founders of these startups constantly mentor and give advice to the next generation in local startup programs and competitions, of which there are many.

The pieces are in place
Tech in Asia held its first meetup event in Lahore at Arfa Software Technology Park, a grey mass of buildings that we would end up spending most of our time in. Security here is tight – my colleagues and I passed through a grand total of four checks before getting the all-clear, and were asked where we were from multiple times.

Jazib Zahir, founder of games studio Tintash, tells us that it is generally the case for establishments that the government considers to be of national importance. Despite being a regular in the premises, Zahir himself had to show his identification card along for verification purposes, as did other locals.

Much like Singapore’s Block 71, these buildings are home to many local startups, many of which are housed in the resident accelerators and incubators. These organizations account for many of the current batch of budding Pakistani startups, and hence quite literally hold up the local startup ecosystem.

The Punjab Information Technology Board – a governmental body – is responsible for the development of two key programs located here: PlanX and Plan9. As the names suggest, the two are close relatives – PlanX is an accelerator born out of Plan9’s incubation program. While the latter focuses on idea-stage startups, only those who have a product and are looking to expand further can join the former.

A round of introductions at PlanX’s quaint working space reveals startups with raw but fascinating products. Several of them have in fact gone on show and won accolades at international startup events, such as Startup Turkey and Startup Asia – these trips are fully sponsored by the government. PlanX’s BookMe, for example, was one of the finalists at Tech in Asia’s Arena competition in Jakarta last year.

https://www.techinasia.com/pakistan-startup-ecosystem-perceived-violence-held-back/
Riaz Haq said…
Mariam Adil, a young entrepreneur, is making waves in the Pakistani gaming industry.

According to recent data, Pakistan's software industry employs more than 24,000 people, including many startups like Mindstorm Studios by Ahmed, We R Play by Mohsin Ali Afzal and Waqar Azim, and the now famous Caramel Tech Studios in Lahore. Pakistan's developers have achieved new renown thanks to games like “Whacksy Taxi”, which has become one of the most downloaded App Store games in 25 different countries, and other projects like “Stick Cricket”. Firms hold regular “game jams” in Lahore to attract innovators with competitions between young would-be game developers. Jobs at these companies are highly coveted by young people: the workday ends around 4pm, and employees often hang out together afterwards, literally playing games!

Mariam Adil is one of the dynamic women leading this new era of entrepreneurialism in Pakistan, perhaps the country's best-kept secret. While most of the world probably thinks of all Pakistani women as oppressed and chained down by society, there are dozens of bright women entrepreneurs managing incubators and programs in Pakistan today.

Adil is the founder of the Gaming Revolution for International Development (“GRID”), a game development startup that designs low-cost video games to simulate common issues in development fieldwork and teach development skills. Its game “Randomania” serves up scenarios that any development-sector professional can relate to and encourages policy decisions, showing the results of those decisions. Stereowiped, on the other hand, is a boundary-breaker when it comes to race and barriers of prejudice and is a great example of what social impact games can achieve.

Faisal Kapadia recently spoke to Adil about her work and much more.

Faisal Kapadia (FK): Why did you think of forming a company like the grid to solve issues when there is plenty of opportunity available for game developers commercially?

Mariam Adil (MA): Born out of pure inspiration, GRID hits at a niche market and gives me the flexibility to think creatively about pushing the boundaries of technology innovations for creating development solutions. It was less driven by a need to earn money and more by my passion for the idea.
FK: While developing Randomania did you do a lot of research on different situations faced by professionals in the development sector?

MA: My day job at the World Bank allows me to have my hand on the pulse. Having designed and implemented several Impact Evaluations, I am familiar with the challenges that practitioners face while designing randomized control trials. This perspective, put together with feedback from some very supportive colleagues at the World Bank allowed us to make sure Randomania could do justice to the challenges of rigorously evaluating development projects.
FK: What kind of impact do you think a game like Randomania can have? Does it lead to as a test case more cohesive thought or efficiency?

MA: In my opinion, there is a gap between the science of International Development taught to students and development practitioners, and the art of development practiced by professionals in the field. Until now, there have been few tools to bridge that gap – to provide the experiential learning required to practice complex decision-making, at a scale well beyond one to one interaction.

Games like Randomania offer a safe environment to simulate the effects of policies and understand the trade-offs involved in the decision-making process. With a push towards innovative use of technology in international development, and the effectiveness of games as learning tools, the stage is set for development games to be introduced as learning tools for development practitioners and students.

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/04/28/meet-the-woman-whos-revolutionizing-pakistans-gaming-industry/
Riaz Haq said…
If you have ever doubted that the mother of invention is necessity, then look no further than Pakistan.
Pakistan has struggled to provide opportunities to its people for decades. But the country is turning the tide.
People in Pakistan are determined to define their destiny. They are using all of the resources at their disposal to tackle their challenges..
When Madeeha Hassan, a young entrepreneur from a small town found herself in Lahore, one of the largest Pakistani cities, she was a bit scared. She thought everyone was smarter than her. At times, she wanted to run back to her home town.
After completing her studies, she started to work as a user interface designer. Her office was far from where she lived. It was hard to find a reliable mode of transportation. So she and few of her friends, created Savaree, Pakistan's first ridesharing app. The app resolved her carpooling problems and those of many others too.
It's just not young people who are innovating. Public administrators are doing it too.
In 2011, dengue fever engulfed Pakistan and killing hundreds of people. By 2012, Pakistanis had created an app to ensure people were treated rapidly and resources to combat dengue were mobilized efficiently. In 2012, there were 80 times fewer cases of dengue fever in Lahore than in 2011.
In Pakistan, there has been remarkable progress in rebuilding trust between citizens and public administrators. Pakistan's Punjab Citizen Feedback Model is leveraging the power of mobile phones, SMS and personal phone calls.
Let's say, for example, you went to a government office in Punjab to register your property. An official "records your mobile number, along with other details of the transaction." This information is sent to "local call officers" and to a call center.
Later, a local officer will call you asking about your experience registering your property. And there are call centers that call thousands of people who use public services. As of April 2014, "more than 4 million citizens of Pakistan had been contacted" and asked about their experiences with "the departments of revenue, health, and education."
These responses are entered into the system to make public services better.
This progress comes in contrast with how Pakistan is viewed as a place of conflict. But as evidence shows, we are witnessing how public administrators and youth are taking steps towards realizing Pakistan 2.0: where people can fulfil their dreams and have the opportunity to reach their potential.
Technology is not only serving as a tool for the government to leapfrog the way it conducts its business, but, as you might have guessed, it's also helping youth become job creators and problem solvers.
In 2013, more than 70% of the population had mobile phones, most of them costing under $60.
Today more than 60% of Pakistanis are under the age of 30. Unemployment, especially, among youth remains high. With no jobs, and lack of opportunities youth are taking it upon themselves to create opportunities, as Hassan did.
As administrators, and public, especially youth, commit to innovating and improving Pakistan, we are bound to see Pakistan 2.0 in the near future.
The digital youth summit happening in May in Peshawar, a diverse and dynamic city of Pakistan, is just one more step towards the quest to make Pakistan more prosperous and stable. At the summit, participants will focus on technology entrepreneurship, on-line work and 'tech for social' innovation.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ravi-kumar/what-would-pakistan-20-lo_b_7184818.html
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan tech on the rise

Pakistan rarely makes the news for its technological progress or contributions to the tech world at large. Sadly it is better known for its civil unrest, homegrown terrorists, and extremist violence. But the country is encouraging a growing faction of entrepreneurs in technology, and is not to be left out of the evolving tech scene. Despite an internet penetration level of under 15% as of last year according to Internet World Stats, some are looking to the country’s startup culture and its lack of legacy infrastructure to help it develop a successful technology industry.

Startup accelerator Invest2Innovate (i2i) has been supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners for a few years now; Tech in Asia reports this week that the accelerator has mentored 16 young businesses. Graduate startups from i2i have raised US$700,000 in investment so far — what seems like a paltry sum to Silicon Valley tech, but the accelerator is boosting jobs and advancing interest in tech. In December of last year, Kalsoom Lakhani, founder and CEO of i2i commented on the movement towards supporting technological innovations in Pakistan for The Next Web: “A number of Pakistan-based technology entrepreneurs – many of whom have had some exposure to well-developed ecosystems like Silicon Valley, New York or London – have been and remain deeply committed to growing this space, often participating as judges, mentors, advisors and investors to competitions, incubators/accelerators and startups.” The accelerator has plans for expanding into other countries as well.

Other startups have gained international recognition, particularly gaming-based businesses. The lack of internet penetration in Pakistan is certainly a hindrance to native tech adoption, but that has not stopped game developers from becoming popular with players and users in other countries. And tech like social gaming is important for developing tech culture as it promotes connecting with users through digital forums. Despite rampant poverty throughout Pakistan, there is growing interest in what internet connection has to offer. Figures like Mariam Adil — a woman at the forefront of Pakistan’s tech entrepreneur scene and startup culture — have become famous for promoting the country’s vested interest in gaming, social technology, and web-based development.

Yet, obvious obstacles remain. One of them being the government’s work to tightly control cyber culture within the country. In late April, the parliament examined a proposed bill entitled The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015, which would allow the government to censor content and criminalize certain web-based activity under broad parameters. The bill would also allow the government to access data on individual users without any judicial processes. Such legislation mirrors the behavior of Pakistan’s neighbor China. Perhaps the country has been taking notes. No doubt, as startups gain ground in Pakistan, there will be an inevitable pushback against laws that strictly regulate internet use.

http://blogs.blouinnews.com/blouinbeattechnology/2015/05/01/feature-pakistan-tech-on-the-rise/
Riaz Haq said…
Bookme.pk, a young Pakistani startup, has raised the first round of investment at a valuation of 4 million dollars. Bookme is the fastest and most convenient way, available in Pakistan, to book cinema or bus tickets online from a website or a mobile application. The startup has gained several accolades and has been in the news for all the great reasons. Just last year, it managed to secure seed funding at Startup Turkey event.

Now Bookme has raised the investment from Element Ventures as well. Faizan, Founder & CEO of Bookme, didn’t disclose the amount but has given a hint that the investment is in 6 digits.

See also: Young Startup, Interacta raises 220K USD as seed funding

Meanwhile, Faisal Sherjan, Director Jang Group (GEO TV) has resigned GEO to join Bookme as Director. Faisal has been associated with media industry for more than 30 years and has also been actively mentoring Bookme and several other startups since the very beginning. Faizan believes that the experience, network and guidance of Faisal will take Bookme a long way. Since the team is planning to launch the services and expand operations in several other cities of Pakistan. Faisal, as the director, will be of great help and support.

Bookme has pursued several big targets in a matter of few months. The startup has made partnerships will all major media groups in Pakistan such as GEO, ARY, Hum TV. All these channels have been airing Bookme application advertisements with every upcoming movie promotion. These media groups are also using Bookme application as back end which is helping the startup generate more sales without spending too much on the marketing end.

See also:Rozee.pk raises $6.5 million in Series C venture funding from Vostok Nafta and Piton Capital

This update is the latest addition to the achievement list of Bookme, the startup also partnered with Microsoft Pakistan recently. According to the contract, all the upcoming Windows Phones by Microsoft will have Bookme application pre-installed thereby, increasing the reach and audience of the application. Moreover, Bookme has also dispersed its widgets in almost all the popular websites, thus, helping people buy tickets without navigating out of the website.

This news comes at a time when we’re seeing several local and intl. investors finally taking interest in the technology and startup industry of Pakistan. Here is a quick timeline of the major achievements of Bookme in the past months.

http://www.techjuice.pk/pakistani-startup-bookme-pk-raises-investment-from-element-ventures-at-4-million-dollars-valuation/
Riaz Haq said…
Investors pledge over $4 million in startups at LUMS Investors’ Summit in #Lahore #Pakistan http://bit.ly/1PRqITM via @techjuicepk

A total of 10 startups presented their businesses to local and international investors in an exclusive event arranged at LUMS

LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship (LCE), the university’s flagship experiential development platform for entrepreneurs held an exclusive investor event to mark the graduation of their third cohort of startups graduating from The Foundation incubator.

It is to be noted here that LCE also arranged an investors summit after the completion of their first cycle. Which was attended by the big names of business industry of Pakistan. Interacta of the same batch has raised 220,000 dollars as investment.

These startups went through an intense, 4-months-long, startup development bootcamp at LUMS and have been mentored by some of the best in the industry. The startups were selected by an elite, independent panel of business leaders 4 months ago after a nation-wide search.

The Foundation Investors Summit, which was held at the Rausing Executive Development Center in LUMS was the annual investor event organized by the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship. The event included a mix of both local and international investors who came to show support to these businesses including Salman Amin of Jhonson and Sons, Ali Mukhtar of Fatima Group, Aezaz Hussain of Systems Limited, Farooq Nasim of Gree Pak and Syed Babar Ali amongst others.

Startups that pitched their businesses at the summit included

Jewelry Design Pro, a startup that provides a virtual global jewelry marketplace for trading any digitally downloadable design,
Repair Desk, a cloud based ERP for mobile phone repair,
HealthWire, an e-commerce startup that is increasing the accessibility of doctors and patients,
BeautyHooked, an online platform to connect women to beauty services,
Wedding Graphers, a branded, economical wedding graphing facility in Lahore.
Chinyot.com, the first of its kind online furniture and home décor retail brand in Pakistan,
AliffIqra, Pakistan’s first online Quran assistance program,
King Kashmiri Tea, a revolution in the traditional Kashmiri tea in the form of teabags,
Teachus.pk, an online portal to provide home tuition services by connecting students and tutors
Technician.pk, platform to provide repair and maintenance of electric appliances.
The LUMS Investors Summit opened with an introduction of LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship (LCE) and the impact that it has created in the past one year.
Riaz Haq said…
13 #technology #startup incubators, accelerators and workspaces in #Pakistan http://techin.asia/1k1TBSX via @techinasia

ttitudes towards entrepreneurship have changed drastically in Pakistan in the past few years, partly fueled by the success of startups in the region as well as broadening access to the internet.

Just a couple of years ago, budding entrepreneurs in Pakistan would have found it difficult to gain access to mentors, business training, and investors due to the lack of interest in encouraging disruptive startups. Now, however, the landscape has changed and startup founders have a choice when determining which incubator to reach out to.

In no particular order, here are some incubators and accelerators making an impact in Pakistan.

Plan9, The Nest I/O, LUMS Center For Entrepreneurship, i2i, PlanX, Microsoft Innovation Center, Technology Incubation Center, DotZero, BaseCamp, Founders Institute, NSpire, Tech Incubator and WeCreate Pakistan
Riaz Haq said…
#Urdu and #English language versions of MIT #Technology review launched online in #Pakistan http://disq.us/8rqepu

Karachi—MIT Technology has launched technology review in Pakistan to spread science & technology awareness to a wider local audience in the aims to foster entrepreneurship and Innovation in Pakistan. This is the latest initiative in a series to create impact in Pakistan. Mr. Jason Pontin, CEO, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of MIT Tech Review, Ken Morse, Founding MD of MIT Entrepreneurship Center and Farrokh Captain, Chairman, MIT Enterprise Forum of Pakistan and . Umar Saif, chairman PITB, Vice chancellor ITU and Editor of Tech Review Pakistan addressed the press at a local hotel in Karachi recently about MIT’s role as a technology leader and its initiative to impart latest knowledge of technology to accelerate adoption of innovation and development of entrepreneurial culture in Pakistan.

The latest initiative in this is to launch MIT Technology Review (TR) in Urdu and English language with the intent to create a new tech generation in Pakistan fully aware of what is happening around the world in technology and innovation. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Pontin noted, “Whenever I visited Pakistan, I realized that here was lack of realism, technology based content that could provide guidance to the local technologists, academia, researchers, scientists and journalism analysis.

“In 2013, I had promised that I will bring the world famous MIT Technology Review (TR) to Pakistan, I am extremely happy to note that after almost two years of extremely hard work we have been able to launch the English & Urdu version of MIT Technology Review Pakistan (TR). With the Pakistan edition the educated and tech-savvy youth of this country can know about the latest technology trends and innovations around the world.

Equally, researchers and innovators and entrepreneurs of Pakistan can show case their work to the international community through this world famous technical magazine.” Mr. Morse, founding father of MIT Entrepreneurship Center, indicated that technology entrepreneurship can be a game changer for Pakistan.

Quoting Economist Intelligence Unit he said, “Waves of technically trained young people — steeped in the latest theories and techniques, and honed by some of the smartest minds in science and technology — do more for raising a country’s industrial competitiveness than all the tax breaks, development aid, and government initiatives put together.” Adding to this he said,” we need to be infected with entrepreneurship virus to gain success. If you have a lot up startups, it’s logical to have a lot of failures.”
Riaz Haq said…
Team #Pakistan wins 3 Gold, 1 Silver at #technology awards at #APICTA2015 in #Colombo #SriLanka http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/23-Nov-2015/team-pakistan-picks-3-gold-1-silver-at-technology-awards-in-colombo …

The Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES delegation comprised of 50 members with 22 technology products, competing for the prestigious APICTA Awards against 197 products from 17 countries of the region.

Sri Lankan Minister for Telecom and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando was the chief guest at the awards ceremony, which was also graced by the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka Major General (retired) Syed Shakeel Hussain. Leading the way with the Gold were the teams from Eyedeus Labs for their new product “Ingrain”, Evamp & Sanga for their product Mobile Audio Streaming Service and students from the NUST College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering for their research project Active and Intelligent Powered Ankle Foot Prosthesis for Trans-tibial Amputees.

The Silver Award was taken by a very young team from The Nest Technology Incubator in Karachi for their project Teddict. The winners from the Asia Pacific compete in this three-day regional event were judged by industry professionals, technology veterans and thought leaders from the APAC region.

International APICTA Judges from 17 countries who evaluated the categories in which Pakistan participated spoke about the consistently high standard of technology products presented by Pakistan, year after year. This year Team Pakistan performed superbly, with young people once again taking the lead. With the support of Samsung and Google for Entrepreneurs, P@SHA was able to take to Colombo, a number of young teams of Pakistani IT professionals under the banner of Team Pakistan.

The objective was to bring them face-to-face with the best technology companies, professionals and students in the Asia Pacific, to provide an opportunity to meet and form potential partnerships with each other and to attract business and possible investment.

Dressed in their green Team Pakistan t-shirts, the team from Pakistan created impact by putting up a great show. The international judges commended the members of team Pakistan for displaying high caliber of work which truly represented Pakistan’s booming tech sector. They were absolutely blown away by the younger members that took part in the Tertiary Student Category and the Secondary School Project category.

While speaking on the occasion, P@SHA President Jehan Ara said, “The P@SHA ICT Awards – a P@SHA signature event for the past 12 years, has provided a platform to show the world what technology companies and young people in Pakistan are capable of. This year we have once again proven that our products can be benchmarked against the best in the region.”
Riaz Haq said…
12 #startups from #Pakistan that raised funding in 2015. #technology https://www.techinasia.com/12-startups-pakistan-raised-funding-2015/#.VnLYJej4wBk.twitter …

1. Zamzama Property Group
Zamzama Property Group, which is the parent company of real estate sites Zameen and Bayut, raised US$9 million in series B financing, marking the largest investment in a Pakistan-based startup this year.

2. Naseeb Networks
Naseeb Networks is the holding company of job portals Rozee and Mihnati, concentrating on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, respectively. The startup raised a US$6.5 million series C round, bringing its total funding to US$8.5 million.

3. Wifigen
Wifigen, a startup that provides wifi solutions for businesses in exchange for social media logins, raised an undisclosed amount of seed investment valuing the company at US$1 million. The angel investor behind this round is John Russell Patrick – a former executive at IBM and an early-stage investor in Uber.


4. Bookme
Bookme, an online platform for booking bus, cinema, and event tickets, secured an undisclosed amount of seed investment from Element Ventures, which valued the company at US$4 million. The startup was previously one of the Startup Arena finalists at Tech in Asia Jakarta 2014.

5. EatOye
EatOye, an online food delivery service, was acquired by Rocket Internet’s Foodpanda as part of a regional acquisition spree to assert its dominance in the sector. The startup was a late entrant to the online delivery space in Pakistan, but had started to seriously threaten Foodpanda’s position at the top of the perch – hence the buyout.

6. Forrun
Delivery and logistics startup Forrun was acquired by technology services company Arpatech. The acquisition was made in line with a concentration on ecommerce, logistics, and technology verticals.


7. Markhor
Markhor, which makes handcrafted artisanal shoes, stole the show this year when it became the first startup from Pakistan to be accepted into Y Combinator, thus receiving US$120,000 in seed capital. Waqas Ali, founder of Markhor, had told Tech in Asia that the acceleration was aimed at strengthening Markhor’s position as a luxury lifestyle brand.

8. Interacta
Interacta, a startup which is trying to redefine conventional broadcasting by making television shows interactive, raised US$220,000 in seed funding from Fatima Ventures. The startup’s app, which is similar to music detection service Shazam, analyzes sound coming from television channels and pushes content accordingly. For example, in cooking shows, users can view the recipe directly on their phones. Broadcasters can also use the app for targeted advertisements.


9. Sportskot
Sportskot is a marketplace for sporting goods manufactured in Pakistan. There’s a large, fragmented industry of sports apparel and equipment, and the startup is trying to bring them all under one umbrella to assist in visibility and appeal to international clientele. Sportskot raised US$140,000 in seed funding to expand its operations.


10. MySmacED
MySmacED, a startup in the edtech space, is a communication platform that enables real-time information sharing between parents, teachers, students, and administrators. It creates a “moderated social network,” while also assisting with feedback on child performance and easier information sharing between teachers and students. The startup raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding valuing the company at US$2 million.


11. AutoGenie
Autogenie is Pakistan’s first on-demand car service and maintenance startup. Other than these basic services, it also offers premium members things like roadside assistance, regulatory and tax compliance, and car analytics. The startup raised US$100,000 in seed investment from PakWheels.

12. Mezaaj
Mezaaj is a platform for fashion designers to showcase their work and get noticed in the digital sphere. .... The startup secured an undisclosed amount of seed investment, valuing the company at US$500,000.
Riaz Haq said…
#Lahore's #Pakistani developer’s Wordpress theme Avada is top seller at $10m in sales. #Pakistan #technology http://bit.ly/1YApswO

Avada theme available at Envato marketplace, has become the top selling theme while the developer, Themefusion, has now crossed a milestone of 10 million dollars.

This theme is developed by Haris Zulfiqar and Luke Beck under the company name of “Themefusion”. The two met at Envato, a digital marketplace for creative assets by web designers. In the year 2013, we told our readers that their theme hit a 1 million dollar sale number. Fast forward a couple of years and Avada has continued to show immense growth in terms of new purchases and now, Themefusion has managed to cross the $10 Million milestone on the platform.

Themefusion is also the first ever seller to cross the $10 Million sales mark on Envato Market. When asked if they had any idea they would be so successful by Envato, Luke said that “neither of us had any idea that three years later we’d have achieved this level of success. It’s quite amazing and completely surreal.”

Started as just a two person team, developing themes on the Envato Marketplace, they have now grown to a group of 20+ people.

When asked about a tip Haris would give to other creatives in 2016, he said,

“Always take time to be your best and do what you know is right. Take risks and build up the people around you, listen to your customers and strive to grow in every way possible.”

Freelancing is one of the fastest growing professions around the world and especially in Pakistan, where more and more people are turning to their computers in search of employment. Just a while back, a Pakistani MBBS student made the news for earning half a million dollars through freelancing and now, Haris Zulfiqar along with his other companions, has also proved the potential that lies in freelancing.
Riaz Haq said…
#Technology #Startup funding in #Pakistan up 600% in 2015: A banner year for nation's tech #entrepreneurs.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/28012016-2015-was-a-game-changer-for-pakistani-tech-industry-oped/#.Vq17F8RKVSc.twitter …

Though start-ups in Pakistan have been on and about their tasks for several years now, it was 2015 that really put them on the venture-capital-funding map. In 2014, Pakistani start-ups managed to raise a mere $4 million, but the funding jumped to $23 million in 2015. Despite the fact many firms who secured funding chose not to disclose their numbers, the collective $23 million still represented close to 600% increase in investment.

Analysing the prevalent trends, the buzz and hype around online businesses, one can expect a bright future for Pakistan’s technology industry and international companies and investors have started noticing the advancement.

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Though slowly, the idea of taking the business online is becoming an evident realisation and companies are scrambling to develop online platforms that help their businesses grow. Consumers are taking to the idea and ease of shopping online, although there remains a massive room for improvement (and hence window of opportunity) in the quality of services up on offer.

Still the country’s tech scene has its knights. Companies like Rozee.com, Pakwheels.com and Zameen.com have not only made a name for themselves for being the pioneers in their respective fields, they have also upped the antes time and again by reinvigorating their portals and providing improved facilities to their users over and over again.

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Efforts of The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) have also been quite instrumental in Pakistan’s technology industry’s growth in 2015. Apart from raising awareness regarding the uses of IT among the public and automation of the Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education and the Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program, PITB also laid strong foundations for tech-entrepreneurship by establishing Plan9, the largest technology incubator in Pakistan distinguished by its zero-equity model.

Since its inception in 2012, Plan9 has graduated 66 start-ups, created roughly 500 jobs and over $2 million in funding. Commenting on Pakistani start-ups, Blackbox.vc Founder & CEO Fadi Bishara said Pakistani start-ups were more hard-core tech than Silicon Valley start-ups.

Currently, academic institutions are also playing a supportive role in increasing awareness about online entrepreneurship. LUMS Centre of Entrepreneurship, Information Technology University and National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences are now offering courses on entrepreneurship. While these courses are merely theoretical, they provide students with the much needed confidence to pursue unexplored professions.

With Pakistan’s technology sector becoming more vibrant than ever, one can expect the current year to be bring even gladder tidings for the country’s tech-preneurs, as well as the start-ups mushrooming across the country. Here’s to another year of change and progress.
Riaz Haq said…
t’s No #SiliconValley, but #Pakistan is Building Its Own Startup Scene. #Technology http://www.newsweek.com/pakistan-building-silicon-valley-scene-426408 …

In the past five years, Pakistan’s startup ecosystem has grown from a nascent colony to a self-sustaining environment. Zameen, an online real estate startup based in Lahore, has ridden that startup wave in developing a Zillow-like app and website that allows users to search and buy real estate listings in Pakistan’s largest cities.

Like many famous U.S. internet companies, Zameen started with a gamble. In 2006, Zeeshan Ali Khan and his brother left their e-commerce business in the United Kingdom to move to Pakistan and started Zameen in their bedrooms. Back then, online-only services in Pakistan were rare, but Ali Khan followed the money coming into Pakistani real estate from expats living abroad—a million of whom lived in the United Kingdom. Now Zameen employees 500 people and has offices in nearly all major cities in Pakistan.

“Zameen.com came into being when we realised there was a desperate need for a trustworthy online real estate enterprise in Pakistan, especially given the importance the average Pakistani attaches to property,” Ali Khan tells Newsweek in an email. “Back then the state of internet infrastructure in Pakistan was extremely poor but the offline property market was exploding. Facilitated by large investments from the Pakistani diaspora, people found that investing in real estate would earn them significant returns.”

Pakistan’s fast-growing economy and, perhaps more importantly, large English-speaking population has provided a backbone to encourage startups to form and work with foreign companies.

The country has seen startup hubs form around elite universities in cities like Lahore and Karachi—similar to Boston and San Francisco—in the last few years. The Punjab province, where Lahore is located, has been the major hotspot for startups in Pakistan. Plan9, the Punjab provincial government-run technology incubator, hosts over 80 startups. Ali Khan believes there are 140 startups in Lahore, a city of 5 million people.

But Pakistani startups are still minnows compared to those in Silicon Valley. Cultural and economic norms, like being predominantly reliant on cash for transactions, are big obstacles for startups. Despite leading the South Asian region in consumers using mobile payments, only 9 percent of Pakistani men and 2 percent of women have used mobile phones for money transfers. Around 39 percent of Americans have used mobile banking in 2015, according to a report from the Federal Reserve.

To accommodate its cash-based users, Zameen employs motorcycle riders to collect payments from Zameen agents across 30 Pakistani cities in person. “The situation is improving, and a lot of people are beginning to feel more comfortable with online payments and even mobile transactions,” says Ali Khan.

Earning public trust for a little-known startup—a concept now just becoming understood in Pakistan—was a big challenge as well. When Zameen began, it discovered most of the Pakistani property market undocumented, and reliable data was nearly non-existent.

Pakistani consumers, including Ali Khan’s family, had a hard time becoming comfortable with Zameen and its Silicon Valley-inspired ideas. “My family was a little apprehensive when I told them I wanted to start a business of my own,” Ali Khan says. “Today however, the attitudes have greatly changed, thanks to the startup ecosystem that is supporting the startup culture in Pakistan.”

The two biggest hurdles Zameen and fellow startups face are the low penetration rates of 3G/4G mobile Internet and the lack of support from its government. In 2015, only 22 million out of 182 million Pakistanis had 3G/4G technology, leaving little room for startups to continue growing and scale upwards with their online services.

Infrastructural issues like 3G/4G technology need the government’s help, but such support has been lacking, according to Ali Khan.
Riaz Haq said…
Two dozen #Pakistani #tech startups got foreign and domestic #VC funding in 2015, a new record. #Pakistan
http://www.dawn.com/news/1267408

Tech startups are doing reasonably well and look set for growth despite a lack of adequate financing from banks and venture capital outfits.

In 2015, about two dozen tech start-ups, old and new, obtained funds from abroad or from local venture capitals (VC). Some of them are now doing good business.

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The list of tech start-ups that raised sufficient funds in 2015 include both old and new firms like app-based travelling services Careem, shopping portal Daraz.pk, the real estate’s online listing portal Zameen.com, job portal Rozee.com, entrepreneurship programme Interacta, on-demand car maintenance service AuotGenie and 18 others.

A cursory look at their sources of financing shows that it came from abroad, such as $60m in case of Careem from the UAE-based Abraaj Group, or $22m partial-funding from a UK-based DFI in case of Daraz.pk. In some cases, money flowed in from regional VC like $33m partial funding for Daraz.pk from the Asia-Pacific Internet Group.

But in some cases like $9m foreign funds raised by Zameen.com, specific details of the investors remained unknown.

AutoGenie managed to raise $100,000 from PakWheels.com a big local online car-portal that had itself raised $3.5m a year earlier from a Malaysian venture capital firm. Interacta, an entrepreneurship startup of the Lahore University of Management Science secured $220,000 in seed funding from Lahore-based Fatima Ventures.

A sizable fund-raising of tech startups came under spotlight in 2013 when four entities mobilised funds worth less than $10m. In 2014, 10 tech start-ups came up and raised almost the same amount of funds. But in 2015 no less than 24 startups pulled in an estimated $100m from various sources not just in seed capital but, in some cases, for capacity building and outreach.

However, some borrowers do not share details about the amount and sources of their debt. Information trickles in, though, from individual sources and a couple of websites do the much-needed record-keeping for the benefit of their visitors.

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Markhor, a shopping portal that sells hand-made leather shoes has already won a unique recognition at Y Combinatory, a three-month incubation programme at Silicon Valley and has also received $120,000 in seed capital.

Plan9, a local venture capital of the Punjab Information Technology Board boasts of having provided incubation training to over 100 startups so far but except for a few, those startups have got additional funds from foreign sources, industry sources say.

Sometimes, financing tech startups seems just like impact financing, a concept now gaining currency along with the concept of social business. And that is why banks and some, less-resourceful, local VCs shy away from it.

But in a majority of cases, tech startups have also proved to be highly profitable businesses with annual growth rates of 100-400pc, industry sources say. The driving factors include tailor-made, time-saving services that these startups provide, growing use of smart phones and the internet, level of innovation offered and expanding e-commerce.

The potential of tech startups to impact the way large businesses are currently being run is immense. Take, for example, the case of EveryCatalog.com.

This two-year old startup has undertaken to showcase catalogues of businesses in such broad categories like textiles, apparel, shoes, jewelry and accessories, interior designs/ furnishing and custom design products/handicrafts. Its mobile applications, it claims, are capable of delivering a full e-commerce platform where sellers can exhibit their products for sale.
Riaz Haq said…
Almost 1,000 #startups, 40% of all startups, died in #India in the last two years. #BJP http://qz.com/734236 via @qzindia

Here’s the bitter truth about entrepreneurship in India: Over 40% of startups set up in the last two years have already shut shop.
Since June 2014, some 2,281 Indian startups had begun operations across a range of sectors, including e-commerce, health technology, robotics, logistics, business intelligence and analytics, food technology, and online recruitment. But, according to data analysed by Delhi-based research firm Xeler8, 997 of these have already failed.

The main reason, it appears, is a lack of funding. “Ones which got an investment lasted a little longer,” said Rishabh Lawania, Xeler8’s founder. For the rest, the end came swiftly, usually within the first 12 months of launching.

The highest number of casualties were in red-hot sectors such as logistics, e-commerce, and food technology, where some of India’s most successful startups operate. Lack of innovation and over-crowding probably led to the closures.
The e-commerce casualties included online lifestyle store Fashionara and fashion marketplace DoneByNone. Dazo, Spoonjoy, and Eatlo failed in the food tech space. Other prominent failures were recruitment marketplace TalentPad.com, marketplace for leisure activities, Tushky, and on-demand laundry services Tooler.

But such failure is hardly the end of the road for some entrepreneurs. Although around 75% of the founders of failed startups did not try again, instead finding jobs at other firms or startups, the remainder is likely to attempt again. Time is on their side: the average age of founders of these failed startups was only 27 years.
Riaz Haq said…
Ijarah Capital to launch $100 million #VentureCapital Fund in #Pakistan this year. #Tech #startup http://bit.ly/2dUWSDS via @techjuicepk

Ijara Capital Partners Limited has been granted a license to a private venture capital fund and equity under the newly promoted Private Funds Regulations 2015 by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), reports Dawn Media.

Ijara Capital Partners Limited is the second firm to receive this license. Lakson Investments Ltd. was also granted a similar license a few days ago. The license issued will be valid for a period of three years and the firm will be required to launch the fund within six months of license approval.

CEO of Ijara group Farurukh Ansari told Dawn that the fund will be worth $100 million dollars and is expected to launch in December. The fund will focus on verticals including energy, healthcare, education, infrastructure, fashion and lifestyle.

The fund will be raised by encouraging local and international VCs to invest by sharing insights and information about the business industry and opportunities in Pakistan.

Venture Capital fund shops have started to crop up in the country and deal flow has started too. Just yesterday, while presiding a meeting of information technology leaders in Lahore, Chairman PITB Dr. Umar Saif mentioned that the government is inching close to launching a government-backed venture capital fund in the country. The fund is also expected to be north of $3 million dollars and will be dubbed as ‘Innovation Fund’ because government doesn’t want equity in startups but it wants to accelerate entrepreneurship and encourage local and international investors to put their money in the business industry of Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan-based lockscreen app #startup closes $3.6m series A from #SouthKorean #VC bringing total raised to $4.6m
https://www.techinasia.com/slide-series-a-funding

Pakistan-based Slide, an Android lockscreen app that rewards users for clicking on ads or reading content, today announced that it’s closed a series A funding round worth US$3.6 million. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The round was led by Songhyun Investment, a South Korean VC firm. Slide has raised a total of US$4.6 million to date.

Slide launched roughly a year ago and claims to have 5 million downloads already. CEO Junaid Malik says the funds will be used to further strengthen the company’s presence in Pakistan and develop more products.

He adds that they’re now live in India and in the midst of closing deals to expand to the Middle Eastern market.

Slide is similar to apps like Candy and Popslide. It incentivizes users to read content that pops up every time they unlock their phones. Readers accumulate points for each click which they can then exchange for mobile phone top-ups.

The team’s blown past an internal target of 1 million downloads in the first year, so it’s clear that the concept is catching on.

“A year ago when I was quitting my job, most people said I shouldn’t do it and even today, I’m not sure where this journey will end but to me what matters the most is that I started from scratch,” beams Junaid.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan bags three gold, six silver awards at #apicta2016 2016 #ICT #technology competition in #Taiwan
https://www.dawn.com/news/1300647/pakistan-bags-three-gold-six-silver-awards-at-apicta-2016

Pakistan won three gold awards and six silver awards at the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards (APICTA) 2016 ceremony held in Taipei, Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA) announced Monday.

The Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards (APICTA Awards) is an international awards program that aims to increase information and communication technology (ICT) awareness in the community, and provides networking and product benchmarking opportunities to ICT innovators and entrepreneurs in the region.

Leading the way with the golds were a young team of students from National University for Sciences and Technology (NUST), who won the award for their project, 'Clinical Decision Support System for Diagnosis of Movement Disorders'.

Another group of students from NUST, who also bagged a gold award, for its Research and Development project called 'Analysis of Optical Coherence Tomography Image for CDSS'.

The students collaborated with various organisations such as the international non-profit Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

To bring innovation by Pakistani IT companies to the forefront, P@SHA took a delegation of 41 people to Taipei for the 16th annual APICTA Awards, a four-day event.

From Pakistan, 28 teams competed against 236 teams from 17 countries across the Asia Pacific region and were judged by more than 60 tech professionals.

The regional awards ceremony invited applications from 17 economies, including Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, China, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Pakistan.

Jehan Ara, president of P@SHA, said, “P@SHA showcases the true potential and diverse talent of the ICT industry in Pakistan time and again".

P@SHA prepares technology professionals from Pakistan "to compete and win against companies and products that are deemed the best in the region",

Ara added that all credit goes to the hard work put in by these teams and the efforts of mentors and judges who have been working with them individually since October.

P@SHA was founded in 1992 and has a large membership, comprising more than 450 of the country’s largest software houses, product development centers, BPO companies, Animation & New Media studios and consulting & system integration companies. The organisation's main objective is to promote and develop the software and services industry in Pakistan and to protect the rights of its members.
Riaz Haq said…
To hear about what the #Austin delegation had to say about Pak's startup ecosystem & Plan9 visit the following link:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51-lhwJSHZc …
Riaz Haq said…
Dodging Illicit Cash, Pakistan Startups Hunt for Angel Funds
by Chris Kay and Faseeh Mangi
May 8, 2017, 1:31 PM PDT May 8, 2017, 8:47 PM PDT

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-08/dodging-illicit-cash-pakistan-startups-turn-to-vcs-for-funding

In an attempt to boost entrepreneurship, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif set up a loan program for those under the age of 45 to set up businesses, providing interest free loans to more than 260,000 people since his election in 2013. That’s critical in a country where nearly two-thirds of the population is under 30, according to the Jinnah Institute, a Islamabad-based think tank.

Leila Khan, a lawmaker and chairwoman of the youth loan program, along with other officials at the agency, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Home grown organizations like Seed Ventures and Planet N Pvt. are attempting to change the status quo. Young Pakistanis that Khan meets at university roadshows are often resistant to becoming entrepreneurs.

They say “it’s risky, there’s a chance of failure, there’s a lack of access to finance and we’ve got great expectations from our parents to actually become doctors, engineers, lawyers and that is a safer option,” Khan said, whose firm, Seed Ventures, has invested 78 million rupees ($745,000), supporting 135 startups. “That’s the cultural mindset.”

According to Planet N, of the more than 700 startups that were established since 2010, 67 percent are still active and 68 have managed to raise funding of about $20 million. At least 24 incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces supporting startups have popped up across the country in the past seven years.

Despite the growth of incubators and accelerators, startups will continue to stumble without wider access to seed finance, said Nadeem Hussain, the founder of Planet N. While his firm has invested $8 million in 41 companies, most of them startups, he estimates that at least $1 billion of seed money is needed in Pakistan to help new businesses take the next step.

“They teach you, they mentor you, but when you come out there’s no capital,” said the 61-year-old Hussain, a financier who built Tameer Microfinance Bank Ltd. before selling it to Telenor ASA last year. “Unless we can address that, people are going to turn away from entrepreneurship because of the high failure rate.”

The old way of thinking is being challenged at centers that are popping up across Pakistan. The Nest i/o, which opened in Karachi about two and a half years ago, looks just like the incubators found in Silicon Valley. In a high-rise with views across the city of 20 million, millennials hunch over laptops in a colorful open-plan office littered with foosball tables and beanbags.

Founder, Jehan Ara, took inspiration from visits to incubation centers in Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. Gaining about $1.4 million in grants from Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Samsung Electronics Co. and the U.S. State Department, about 100 startups have come through the center’s four-month cycle. About 85 percent of those are continuing to survive.

Among the businesses that have been through The Nest are a provider of flat-pack homes for refugee camps and one that makes engraving machines that are a fraction of the price of imported ones, said Ara. Social Champ, a mobile app which simultaneously posts on different social media platforms, caught the eye of venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, who has invited the founder to Silicon Valley, she said.

“A lot of kids have started thinking startups, which is a good thing,” Ara, who calls herself the Nest’s “Big Bird,” said in her office decorated with soft toys, candy and entrepreneurial and motivational text books. “It’s a shift, it started three to four years ago when kids started taking work online.”

Riaz Haq said…
Business Conglomerate Schon Group buys #Pakistan #PSL #Multan #cricket franchise for a hefty $41.6 million

https://www.techjuice.pk/schon-group-buys-psl-multan-for-a-hefty-41-6-million/

One of the richest families of Pakistan, Schon Group has bought the newly added Multan team in Pakistan Super League after successful bid at Pakistan Cricket Board. The Schon Group will be paying a hefty $41.6 million in a period of 8 years for this contract. This acquisition, of $5.2 million per year, turns out to be the biggest one in the history of Pakistan Super League.


Currently, Schon Group is managed by his two sons who look after day-to-day affairs in Dubai HQ. Khizer Schon has recently made several investments in the YCombinator’s technology startups and aims to invest in Pakistani technology businesses through their investment arm Schon Ventures. Schon Ventures is the group investment vehicle which has invested in fitness, transportation, real estate, and technology start-ups.

While speaking at the PSL auction, Asher Schon said,
“We believe we have all the resources available to make this (investment) a successful venture.”
Riaz Haq said…
What happened at Google IO Extended 2017 Karachi

By Samrah Syed

https://www.techjuice.pk/google-io-extended-2017-karachi/

Google I/O’17 Extended kicked off in Karachi on August 5 at IBA City Campus. Google I/O is an annual developer conference held by Google in San Francisco, California and brings together developers from around the globe to focus on exploring the next generation of tech.

Seeing the need of the tech community integration in Karachi, GDG Kolachi brought the conference to Karachi whilst delivering rich content through tech talks, code labs and live demos to a diverse audience of techies.

I attended Google I/O for the first time and it was an experience that I won’t forget anytime soon. Being a student from NED University of Engineering and Technology on my path to development, as well as being an organizer at GDG Kolachi, this not only opened doors for me to network with some of the Tech Gurus in Pakistan but also caught me up to date with the Google’s latest technologies.

This year Google announced a ton of stuff such as what’s next for Android and other platforms. Here is a sneak peek of the event with my lens.

The event kicked off with a keynote by Khurram Jamali. Jamali, Country Lead at Google, Pakistan. Jamali motivated the audience by his story and gave the summary of the I/O from the Pakistani market perspective. Going on, Eric Bhatti, Manager GDG Kolachi talked about what’s new in Android.

Bhatti’s session was followed by Asadullah Yousuf, from TPS Worldwide, who made an app in less than 19 minutes using flutter, a mobile app SDK designed to help developers and designers build modern mobile apps for iOS and Android. That was something that gained a huge applause.

The talks continued with Jehan Ara telling the Pakistan Start-Up story and Umair Khan from 10Pearls sharing a talk on Database on fire. Sadaffe Abid, Co-founder CIRCLE brought some diversity by conveying the role of Women Techmakers and She Loves Tech. To add to a little more diversity in the topics, Atyab Tahir, Head of Digital Transformation at HBL talked about financial services Nexus.

More speakers were lined up. Mehdi Raza built a really cool app with Google Assistant that essentially requires no coding! Sohaib Khan gave a talk on designing better voice experiences for Google Assistant. Harris Solangi, co-manager at GDG Kolachi, demonstrated how easy it is to develop intelligent applications using the ML APIs that Google offers.

The long day of talks came to an end with the closing by Junaid Iqbal, MD Careem who talked about the Future of Technology in Pakistan.

The diversity of the tech talks was something that no doubt added to the richness of the conference. As one of the attendees said, “It was a great experience. I was introduced to new technology by Google that I didn’t know about before.”

A few important announcements were also made at the event.

The API.AI challenge by Google, so if you have an up to beat idea, start making an assistant app now to participate in the challenge.
GDG Kolachi will also be setting up a local API.AI challenge. So If you are making an assistant app, also share it with GDG Kolachi by emailing at hello@gdgkolachi.com. The best apps will be evaluated and will get a prize at GDG Devfest.
Organizations can support the initiative of GDG Kolachi as well: https://goo.gl/vJDZSp
Google Developers Group are Google sponsored communities of techies and coders who work together to promote learning and development in the tech field, through events like Google I/O.
Riaz Haq said…
The DeanBeat: 3 Pakistani brothers ensure mobile game chat isn’t lost in translation

https://venturebeat.com/2017/08/18/the-deanbeat-3-pakistani-brothers-ensure-mobile-game-chat-isnt-lost-in-translation/


Game developers can grow up anywhere these days.these days, and the latest example of that are the Zaeem brothers from Pakistan. Saad, Ammar, and Shayan have created two startups: one that makes mobile games, and a new venture that is creating a platform for multilingual chat in games.

The startups have created jobs in their hometown in Lahore, Pakistan, and Silicon Valley. Their successes are modest by the valley’s standards. But growing up in their part of the world, they overcame a lot of odds and made a rare successful tech and game startup in a fast-moving industry. I met them at a party at the Seattle Aquarium at the game event Casual Connect USA, and their story intrigued me. I met them again at a coffee house in Palo Alto, California, and I listened.

Their Pakistan company, Caramel Tech Studios, has been making mobile games since 2011, and they are creating a new San Francisco startup, Fizz, that promises to do real-time translation for text chat in mobile games. Saad is heading that effort, and he has moved to Silicon Valley to raise money and build the company’s connections to others.

The brothers credit their entrepreneurial spirit to their father, who’s in textiles and taught them about startups and business. In the late 1990s, when Saad was 14 and Ammar was 12, they learned how to create websites. One company hired them for $700 or so, and that was a lot of money for young Pakistani entrepreneurs. Their parents “acquired” their company and urged them to stay in school.

----
And that story is replaying everywhere where people grow up playing games, study technology, and try to create their own businesses. Part of the inspiration is Silicon Valley’s fairy tale rags-to-riches stories, and part is the desire to play and learn how to build games.

“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, families wanted their children to become medical doctors,” Ammar said. “Now it’s engineering.”

Their lives have been full of lucky breaks, made more frequent by their dedication. Ammar was interested in investing in stocks. Saad, the oldest, joined a startup without a salary. He helped the business grow and get work for hire. Then the brothers set up their own company, making software and games for hire. Halfbrick Studios, the Australian game company that made Fruit Ninja, gave the Zaeem brothers their lucky break. It hired them to build a version of Fruit Ninja for the Nokia Symbian phone platform.

“The biggest problem we had was having the cash flow to take bigger risks,” Ammar said.

The Halfbrick deal enabled them to boost the company to 22 people in Lahore, which had a good university that produced technical graduates. The Halfbrick job led to more work with Kabam, a mobile game company that made hits such as Kingdoms of Camelot. Andrew Sheppard, then head of studios for Kabam, put Caramel Tech Studios to work on a mobile card strategy game, Order of Elements. The studio then worked for Animoca, a Hong Kong company, to build an Astro Boy mobile game.

Apple liked the idea of a game company in Pakistan, and it featured the title that the brothers made. One of their games, Blades of Battle, has been featured by Apple in 137 countries.

After a while, Caramel Tech Studios started making its own games. That was like moving up the food chain, and it led to more deals. Then Saad stepped down as CEO in 2016 and started the effort to build the chat platform.
Riaz Haq said…
#US-based 1839 Ventures partners with #PTIB to launch $20m #Pakistan-focused #VC fund. #Punjab #Lahore #Technology

https://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/1839-ventures-partners-with-ptib-to-launch-20m-fund-84321/

Punjab Information and Technology Board (PITB) of Pakistan has partnered with US-based investment firm 1839 Ventures to launch a $20 million venture capital fund for the technology startups in Pakistan. “1839 Ventures announces its international expansion and the start of a $20-million venture capital fund that will be dedicated to investing in technology-oriented startups operated by exceptional entrepreneurs who are based across Pakistan,” the company said, in a social media post. Austin-based 1839 Ventures specialises in Series A, early stage and growth capital investments in technology oriented companies working in commerce, communication and business intelligence. It invests primarily in Texas-based companies. The announcement was made last week by the venture capital firm at the Atx+Pak Launch Entrepreneurship Program launch ceremony in Austin city. Pakistan has been trying to boost its local entrepreneurship base. Earlier in May, Pakistan’s federal government announced that it will set up a $20 million venture capital fund for local startups. The startup programme was to be open to all startups – not just in IT – since Pakistan needs innovative startups in all sectors such as agri, textiles, logistics, and manufacturing, Pakistan’s Planning Commission Member Athar Osama had said in a blog post at the time. In June, Lakson Investment was granted Pakistan’s first venture capital licence in the South Asian nation. Its application for a private equity and venture capital fund had been approved by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan last year. Lakson had set up Lakson Investment Private Equity (LI PE) in the end of 2014 and is still in its pre-launch phase. It had proposed to start making investments by late 2017.

Read more at: https://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/1839-ventures-partners-with-ptib-to-launch-20m-fund-84321/
Riaz Haq said…
Can Pakistan become Asia’s start-up hub?
Published in Mar-Apr 2017
By Nabeel A. Qadeer
How collaborative efforts by the Government and private sector can help boost Pakistan's entrepreneurial ecosystem.


http://aurora.dawn.com/news/1141953

Dr Umar Saif, who leads the department, has made it his mission to turn Lahore into our own Silicon Valley. As a first step, Plan9, a technology incubator (named after the first free-share operating software by Bell Labs) was launched in 2012. With the completion of its eighth incubation cycle, 130-plus start-ups have come up, some with net valuations ranging between six and $10 million. Collectively, they have made a sizable contribution to the IT job market.

How important has this incubator been in shaping the local scene? More importantly, what role has the State played in this?


To answer this, it is important to first analyse the factors which have hampered entrepreneurial evolution in Pakistan. Firstly, the people of Pakistan are risk-averse. From a young age, children are instructed to opt for mainstream career choices, such as engineering, medicine and teaching; the reason being the social status attached and the income flow these professions promise. Secondly, a typical household has limited capital funds available and these are not enough to allow young people to become involved in activities such as entrepreneurship, which are deemed risky. Therefore, entrepreneurship has not been a career option much experimented with, prior to the setting up of Plan9.

Taking into account these factors, the Government of Punjab decided to provide solutions. At first, through the IT Board and Plan9, the Government introduced the concept of ‘business incubation’. As the initiative was government backed, it was perceived as credible. In contrast, services offered by a new sector or by lesser known agents may be categorised as potential scams. In addition, the Government has a national outreach. As the message was spread, a new narrative was shaped.

Conceptually, entrepreneurship began to be embedded in the minds of young people and incubation became a new buzzword. This was furthered by Plan9’s efforts to encourage universities to replicate the incubation model. As a result, entrepreneurship received attention from academia as well. At present, 20 universities across Pakistan have set up incubators in collaboration with Plan9.


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The Plan9 experience brought to the fore the need for yet another platform aimed at further refining graduate start-ups. The six months incubation programme turns a start-up from a business idea to a scalable model. However, it needs to be polished in order to become a company. As a result, PlanX, a technology accelerator was launched to bridge that gap. To date, PlanX has produced 30 start-ups and raised an investment of three million dollars. In a nutshell, the Government has the scope to practise ‘horizontal integration.’

Expanding the playing field to make these efforts more encompassing, the Punjab Government has launched additional initiatives powered by the IT Board. ‘Herself’ is a capacity building platform for aspiring women entrepreneurs that has trained a 100 women over a period of six months. By introducing alternate home-based economic participation models, Herself aims to increase the female labour force participation rate that stands at a low 25% (source: World Bank, 2014). Techhub Connect is a co-working space for freelancers and bridges the gap between academia and industry. Recently the e-Rozgaar scheme has launched 40 training centres across Punjab aimed at providing a three month training programme to 10,000 individuals in one year.
Riaz Haq said…
Tech Parks planned in Pakistan:

Turkey has agreed to establish two technological parks in Pakistan for development of industrial and agriculture sectors. One park will be set up in Mardan and the other in Quetta. A spokesman of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government told Radio Pakistan that a memorandum of understanding has been signed recently by a Turkish company.
He said the establishment of Techno Parks will help in the reviving sick industrial units and promote livestock. The government of Pakistan-envisaging its vision to become a top 25 global economy and join the league of upper-middle income countries by 2025 with ‘Pakistan Vision 2025’-is reportedly fully geared up to establish information technology (IT) park in Islamabad. In this connection, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has invited request for proposals (RFP) for procurement of consultancy services for undertaking environmental impact assessment (EIA) for technology park development project Islamabad.
According to the RFP document, the project site is situated in Chak Shahzad, 8km away from Islamabad. The project site includes an area of 60,000m2 while the total size of technology park area would be 190,000m2.—Agencies

https://pakobserver.net/turkey-agrees-establish-two-technological-parks-pakistan/

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