Insights from Pakistan's ecosystem: Reflecting on MAGNiTT’s H1 2020 Pakistan Venture Report

MAGNiTT is moving beyond MENA's borders for the very first time in order to build the first venture data platform for emerging markets. We are pleased to have launched the H1 2020 Pakistan Venture Snapshot today - an initial venture funding report on Pakistan, which found that Pakistani startups saw $18M invested in H1 2020, with the overall number of deals increasing by 13% to 17 deals from H1 2019. The research report deep-dives into the first six months of 2020, highlighting key trends in the Pakistani venture capital and startup ecosystem. 

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As a result of the expansion, we spoke to key Pakistani stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem who provided their views and insights into the developments of this emerging markets growing startup space, including how support programmes are helping, the availability of early-stage funding, the importance of having an abundance of talent and a pool of problems to be solved, and more.

Hear from them below:

Rabeel Warraich - Founder & CEO, Sarmayacar

“We’ve been live in the market for almost two years and with seven investments to date, we’ve learned what works and where challenges continue to exist but broadly speaking we are more excited than ever; startups are beginning to demonstrate traction that is increasingly bringing more interest from foreign capital to the space and we see an acceleration in the shift of Pakistan’s $250B of consumer spending to online channels. From our portfolio Bykea, Dawaai, Patari, and SimPaisa are better positioned following the COVID-19 behavioural shifts and we expect them to become category leaders in their respective sectors.”

Ali Mukhtar - Founder & GP, Fatima Gobi Ventures

“The current startup ecosystem in Pakistan is analogous to some of the strong trends witnessed by the region’s most successful tech hubs. Pakistan’s insight into both the successes and failures of the more developed ecosystems within its neighboring countries will enable it to leapfrog through generations of technological advancements. One example of this is the transition from traditional to mobile-based banking, where the number of mobile bank accounts have already surpassed traditional bank accounts in the country and with most of the population moving directly to mobile banking.”

Faisal Aftab - Managing Partner & Executive Director, Lakson VC

“Pakistan has all the intrinsic drivers to make it the next big South Asian market. The 5-year delay in the 3G/4G launch (vs India and the region) has created an unprecedented investment opportunity in the 5th most populous country in the world. The number of active smartphone users has increased 4x since 2015. The local startup ecosystem is vibrant and we’ll see big valuations from Pakistan in the 2020s”

Mudassir Sheikha - Co-founder & CEO, Careem

“With abundant talent, a large market, and no shortage of problems to solve, the Pakistani start-up ecosystem is quickly building momentum. Early-stage funding is more readily available than ever before, our top talent is choosing to work at and do start-ups, and the regulatory environment is starting to become less of a bottleneck. With one or two more successes in our belt, we will be seriously on our way to leapfrog into the digital future.”

Kalsoom Lakhani - Partner, i2i Ventures

“For those of us who have been working in the Pakistan startup ecosystem for some time, the growth & proliferation of the space has been really exciting in the past two years - from the number of support programs to the quality of pipeline, to the number of VC funds - everything has just accelerated. As a result, there is much to look forward to, but also so many players should work on collaboratively to ensure the ecosystem as a whole can support this potential - particularly as it relates to the regulatory environment”

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Pakistani startups saw $18M invested in H1 2020, with the overall number of deals increasing by 13% to 17 deals from H1 2019, illustrating the potential of Pakistan to become the next big South Asian entrepreneurial hotspot. Discover more trends in our H1 2020 Pakistan Venture Investment Report.