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PAKISTAN

ENTREPRENEURSHIP
ECOSYSTEM
REPORT 2016
The purpose of this study is
to first assess and map the
current entrepreneurship
landscape in Pakistan,
followed by an analysis of
the gaps and challenges
that exist for entrepreneurs
in the country.
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

CONTENTS
1 INTRODUCTION 4
Methodology
Ecosystem Map

2 FINANCE 12

Government
Foundation and Fellowship
Corporations
Angel Investors
Venture Capital
Private Equity

3 SUPPORT 26
Competitions, Conferences and Forums
Universities
Incubators
Accelerators
Coworking Spaces
Industry Associations, Organizations and Networks

4 2016 ECOSYSTEM TRENDS 48

5 GAPS AND CHALLENGES 54


Policy
Finance
Support
Human Capital

6 CONCLUSION 66

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In 2016,
entrepreneurship has
become even more
localized and indigenized,
with new initiatives
launched by Pakistanis
on the ground.
1
INTRODUCTION
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

1
INTRODUCTION
In 2014, Invest2Innovate released the first Pakistan
Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Report (PEER), which mapped
the entrepreneurial landscape and detailed the challenges
entrepreneurs, investors, and other stakeholders faced in
Pakistan. Given the proliferation of startup activity in Pakistan
since 2014 (as well as support players that have since closed
operations), this is an updated version of the report for 2016,
which serves not only to detail the growing landscape but also
to showcase potential opportunities and the continuing
challenges in the country.

In the past several years, Pakistans investors could begin to look at In 2016,
volale polical and security Pakistan more favorably.
environment has negavely On the ground, there is increased
Bloomberg
aected the investor and entrepreneurial acvity happening declared the
entrepreneurship climate, with in the country, which is both a Pakistan Stock
outside investors wary of entering reecon of a broader global Exchange (KSE
the market. Entrepreneurs in the trend, as well as increased internet
100) as the best of
country oen face major regulatory penetraon and migraon, which
hurdles in sustaining and building has blurred naonal boundaries, the Asian markets,
their businesses, and the opaque exposed cizens to innovaons and and the fifth-best
environment acts as a deterrent for developments in other countries, performing stock
investors. and promoted exchanges between index in the world.
markets. The entrepreneurship
Despite these many issues, there ecosystem the environment that
has been some progress. In 2016, supports the growth of businesses
Bloomberg declared the Pakistan is growing with a signicant
Stock Exchange (KSE 100) as the increase in the number of
best of the Asian markets, and the incubators, coworking spaces,
h-best performing stock index in compeons, and other support
the world. As a result, American players since 2012. In 2014,
stock index MSCI reclassied Invest2Innovate aributed the rise
Pakistan from their Froner in entrepreneurship support
Markets Index to the Emerging organizaons to a combinaon of
Markets Index. Violence has factors the globally recognized
decreased in Pakistan as a whole, need for more robust
and the relavely improved entrepreneurial ecosystems around
security situaon mean outside the world to support

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

entrepreneurship, global eorts like the U.S. State Theres also been increased interest from the
Department-led iniave the Global Pakistani Diaspora in Pakistans startup scene,
Entrepreneurship Program (GEP), which highlights which is signicant given that Pakistan received
the Obama Administraons commitment to use $19.3 billion in remiances from this Diaspora in
Americas entrepreneurial culture to advance 2015. While the remiance amount does not
entrepreneurship in emerging markets and directly correlate to investment dollars, it is sll
developing countries, and the rise of global indicave of a Diaspora that is heavily involved in
franchises and compeons like Startup Weekend its home country. With business associaons like
and Startup Cup, which have established a OPEN launching local chapters in Pakistan, there is
presence in Pakistan. an opportunity to further increase this
engagement.
In the 2014 edion of this report, Invest2Innovate
also noted this change was led and championed by Other factors are also encouraging. 70% of
local entrepreneur leaders, who are mentoring Pakistans 180 million people are under 30 years
young companies, advocang for policy change, old. Internet penetraon has increased from 10%
and leading new support iniaves in the country. in 2012 to 17.8% in 2016, and there are 13.5
Many of these local leaders have had exposure million mobile broadband subscribers and 125
abroad and to the lessons of successful startup million mobile phone subscribers. This means that
ecosystems like Silicon Valley. By coming home and Pakistan is a country with a very young
launching successful businesses, these demographic that is increasingly connected, and
entrepreneur leaders are adapng Western-style there is a great opportunity to strengthen their
entrepreneurship and innovaon for a Pakistan own capacity to solve local issues, parcularly
context. As mentors and potenal investors to through the use of technology.
younger entrepreneurs, they can advise businesses
on how to build companies within the harsh
realies of the country.

In 2016, these trends connue, but


entrepreneurship has become even more localized
23%
of Pakistani Youth
and indigenized, with new iniaves launched by want to start their
Pakistanis on the ground. There has been an own business
increased number of local support organizaons
and startup acvity (versus local chapters of global
brands), and the countrys main incubators and
accelerators Plan9/PlanX, The Nest i/o, LCE and According to the UNDP, 23% (approx. 12 million) of
i2i, have more graduates, engage more mentors, Pakistans youth want to start their own business,
and their startups have gone on to other programs but have noted that they are clueless on the
and raised funding. The number of local procedures & requirements.
entrepreneur leaders has also increased, with many
mentoring and co-invesng in startups, and This stasc is both encouraging and also
engaging in local/global business associaons like indicates a need to strengthen the
the Organizaon of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country to
and TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs). Angel investor support the capacity of young entrepreneurs.
acvity connues to be localized, but has also
shied to be more formalized i.e., more investors The purpose of this study is to rst assess and map
are not only invesng together, but also launching the current entrepreneurship landscape in
more instuonal vehicles to deploy their capital. Pakistan, followed by an analysis of the gaps and
challenges that exist for entrepreneurs in the
country.

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PAKISTAN -
A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY

70 %
of Pakistans
180 million people
are under 30 years old

Internet penetration
has increased from

10 %
in 2012 to

17.8 %
in 2016
PAKISTAN IS A COUNTRY WITH
VERY YOUNG DEMOGRAPHICS

13.5 million
mobile broadband
subscribers

125 million
mobile phone
subscribers
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

METHODOLOGY
Invest2Innovate assessed Pakistans current entrepreneurship
landscape using the Aspen Network of Development
Entrepreneurs (ANDE) Entrepreneurial Diagnostic Toolkit as
guidance. Our team also designed and conducted a survey in
February 2014, using guidelines from the ANDE Toolkit.

The quesonnaire was This study encompasses the gaps According to EdX,
disseminated through a number of and challenges that face
business associaons, including the entrepreneurs who are part of the
the MOOC
Organizaon of Pakistani formal sector, and given the nature platform of
Entrepreneurs (OPEN), The Indus of the survey respondents, focuses Harvard and MIT,
Entrepreneurs (TiE), AllWorld relavely more on challenges facing Pakistan is in the
Network, the Pakistan Soware the technology sector.
top 10 countries
Houses Associaon for IT & ITES
(P@SHA), and the U.S. Pakistan based on the
Womens Council. Invest2Innovate number of
received 119 responses that were participants in
mostly male (96 compared to 23 courses, while
female respondents), who were
mainly from the services sector
both Khan
(74%), specically classifying their Academy and
businesses as soware/web Coursera report
development (36%) and high participation
informaon communicaon
technology (ICT) (22.4%). All the
rates in Pakistan.
respondents were based in urban
areas and were mainly in Pakistans
major cies Lahore, Karachi and
Islamabad.

The i2i team also interviewed over


15 leading entrepreneurs and
stakeholders on the gaps and
challenges facing businesses in
Pakistan in 2014, and did updated
interviews with 10 stakeholders for
the 2016 version of this report.
Finally, i2i reviewed a number of
past reports and studies as
secondary sources for this analysis.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

ECOSYSTEM MAP
In the last few years, Pakistans entrepreneurship ecosystem has
grown significantly, with an increased number of new
organizations, funds, and initiatives supporting entrepreneurs.

Since i2i last published this report in 2014, the chapters in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad in 2012,
number of players has increased even more, with and there is an endless amount of compeons,
support organizaons running in all of Pakistans hackathons, and entrepreneurship forums.
major cies.As discussed earlier, Pakistans online
connecvity is increasing, with a large number of A number of gaps & challenges prevail for
people leveraging social media plaorms like entrepreneurs in Pakistan, but the increased
Facebook, Twier, and Instagram. As of the rst frequency of acvity on the ground is encouraging.
quarter of 2016, there are 25 million Facebook In 2014, we reported that Pakistans security issues,
users in Pakistan. The introducon of 3G/4G/LTE corrupon, and polical instability increased the
services in the country will further increase the perceived risk for foreign investors, but also in turn
number of people who are digitally connected. In caused Pakistan to look inward, build indigenous
fact, the increase in broadband access has networks, and replicate models that have worked
accelerated the growth of marketplaces for in other countries for the Pakistani market. This
freelancers, which is signicant given the amount connues to be true, if not more so, today.
of IT graduates in Pakistan who are able to nd Pakistani entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and local
work online and be self-employed. organizaons have largely led the growth of the
entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country in recent
The rise of plaorms like Khan Academy, Coursera years, as opposed to foreign investors and
(launched 2012), Udacity (launched 2012), and entrepreneurs like weve seen in markets like East
other Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are Africa.
also notable, giving users all over the world access
to higher learning and skills development. In Startup Communies, Brad Feld, the co-founder
According to EdX, the MOOC plaorm of Harvard of Techstars, noted that leaders of a growing
and MIT, Pakistan is in the top 10 countries based startup community must be entrepreneurs who
on the number of parcipants in courses, while have a long-term commitment to growing the
both Khan Academy and Coursera report high ecosystem and must be inclusive of anyone who
parcipaon rates in Pakistan. wants to engage with the community. The leaders
of the growing ecosystem in Pakistan have mainly
As a result, we have seen young Pakistanis been successful technology entrepreneurs (many
launching and spearheading local chapters of of whom have had some exposure to more
global brands like Startup Weekend, Startup Grind, developed startup ecosystems like those in Silicon
Lean Startup Machine, Startup Cup, and TEDx, as Valley, New York City, or London), and though we
well as building their own iniaves and startup have yet to ascertain whether their commitment is
events. The rst TEDx event was held in Karachi in long-term, their leadership in local chapters of
2010, and the rst Startup Weekend was held in entrepreneur associaons like TiE and OPEN, and
the country in 2011, and we have seen an parcipaon as mentors and judges in various
increased frequency of these events in all major startup events and compeons is a posive trend.
cies since then. Google Developer Group and The constant intermingling of startups,
Google Business Group meengs are now held entrepreneur founders and heroes, and other
regularly around the country, Diaspora Pakistani ecosystem players has increased due to the
entrepreneur associaon OPEN launched local number of compeons, events, and conferences
that occur in Pakistans major cies.

|9
The ecosystem can be divided into two direct
domains for analysis FINANCE AND SUPPORT,
from which initiatives from government, foundations,
corporations, investors, universities, and
entrepreneur support organizations (incubators,
accelerators, coworking spaces, competitions,
industry associations, and forums) are listed in
relation to the life cycle of an [opportunity]
entrepreneur

Idea stage

Early stage and

Growth stage.
2
FINANCE
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

GOVERNMENT
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, brother of the current Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif, established the Punjab Information
Technology Board (PITB) in 2011 to make Punjab the hub of
information technology in the country and develop IT as a major
sphere of economic activity.

In an interview conducted by i2i in government that is not afraid of between Mobilink and
2014, Khurram Zafar noted that the implemenng iniaves with a TeamUp and will be
launch of PITB, though outwardly long-term impact. There is also a inaugurated in early 2017,
seen as a provincial government strong lobby of local technology with funding for up to ve
eort, wasnt just a policy-level entrepreneurs in Lahore, which years.
direcve, but also one advocated have pushed and supported such
for by a lobby of technology change. Since 2014, we have also This study encompasses the
entrepreneurs in Lahore. Zafar seen the relavely newer provincial gaps and challenges that
credits Umar Saif, a serial government in Khyber face entrepreneurs who are
entrepreneur and the current Pakhtunkhwa, led by Imran Khans part of the formal sector,
Chairman of PITB for ulmately party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and given the nature of the
convincing Sharif to fund this hub. take similar iniaves to promote survey respondents, focuses
PITB, located in Lahore and housed entrepreneurship and job creaon relavely more on
at the Arfa Soware Technology in the region, mainly through the challenges facing the
Park, has launched a number of KP Informaon Technology Board technology sector.
innovave iniaves since its (KPITB). KPs provincial government
incepon under the leadership of partnered with the World Bank and
Saif, including a number of Peshawar 2.0 to launch the The government
e-governance and e-learning technology conference, the Digital announced the
projects, Pakistans largest Youth Summit (DYS), and also launch of the
technology incubator and engages Code for Pakistan on the
accelerator, Plan9 and PlanX, and KP Civic Innovaon Fellowship.
National
most recently, the e-Rozgar Incubation
program, to train Pakistans youth At the naonal level, we reported Centre, which will
as freelancers. These iniaves in 2014 that the Prime Ministers be run as a
have been largely celebrated in the Youth Business Loan Scheme,
partnership
country, and can act as a model for managed by the Small and Medium
other provinces seeking to build Enterprise Development Authority between Mobilink
similar iniaves. (SMEDA), part of the Ministry of and TeamUp and
Industries and Producon, was the will be
In 2014, we noted the tremendous only entrepreneurship-related inaugurated in
eorts by the Punjab government iniave since the elecon of the
to encourage innovaon and PML-N led government in 2013.
early 2017, with
entrepreneurship was due, in part, Most recently though, the funding for up to
to the fact that the province has government announced the launch five years.
long been a PML-N stronghold. This of the Naonal Incubaon Centre,
translates to a provincial which will be run as a partnership

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

PRIME MINISTERS is an iniave by the Naonal Bank of Pakistan and championed by


YOUTH BUSINESS LOAN Maryam Nawaz, PM Sharifs daughter, to provide small business loans
for youth (21 to 45 years of age) looking to launch enterprises in the
country. 50% of all loans will go to women borrowers, with the aim to
provide 100,000 loans with an average size of about $20,000.

SMALL AND MEDIUM is an autonomous body under the Federal Government of Pakistan that
ENTERPRISES AUTHORITY was established to encourage and facilitate the development and
(SMEDA) growth of SMEs in Pakistan. SMEDA coordinates and builds a number
of partnerships to facilitate investment through various channels. In
2013, SMEDA announced a partnership with private equity rm Abraaj
Group to help the fund idenfy investees and provide capacity building
for SMEs for the USAID Pakistan Private Investment Iniave (PPII).
(Note: there has been no public updates on this iniave since 2013.)

NATIONAL ICT is an iniave by the Ministry of Informaon Technology to provide


R&D FUND grant funding to informaon & communicaon technology (ICT)
projects as well as research collaboraons between industry and
academia in Pakistan. While the Naonal ICT R&D Fund has given
grants in the past, there was a slowdown in the grant process, when
the ICT R&D Fund was without a CEO. However, Dr. Syed Ismail Shah
was announced as the new head of the Fund in January 2016, and the
ICT R&D Fund is the enty funding the new Naonal Incubaon Centre
in Islamabad. 17 funded projects have successfully been completed,
while 22 are no longer operaonal.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

FOUNDATIONS AND FELLOWSHIPS


In Pakistan, a number of non-profit organizations,
international agencies, and microfinance institutions provide
grants and entrepreneurial trainings to low-income
communities. While this is important, the purpose of this
study is to assess the entrepreneurial ecosystem for SMEs led
by entrepreneurs in the formal marketplace.

Philanthropic funding and grants recent years. Karandaaz, an Many


can play a signicant role in iniave launched with funding
supporng idea-stage from the Gates Foundaon and
entrepreneurs
entrepreneurs through high-risk DFID, aims to support Pakistans look for seed
no-return capital, and allow digital nance ecosystem and is funding/grants
businesses to test and prove their conducng groundbreaking from other
concept for their intended market. research on the nancial
sources like local
However, there are few local technology and inclusion space.
foundaons in Pakistan, and many competitions,
fund their own programming versus Pakistan-based entrepreneurs can corporations, as
independent iniaves. Given the also apply to global fellowships like well as players
culture of zakat, local family Echoing Green, a highly reputed like the U.S.
foundaons oen give money to program based in New York City.
tradional and hyper-local charies Given the number of wealthy
Embassy, United
versus philanthropic grants to small families in Pakistan, there is an Nations, USAID
businesses. Philanthropic giving opportunity to encourage more and DFID (UKs
also is more ad-hoc, than part of a family giving to go towards more Aid Agency),
rolling strategy. This means the entrepreneurial iniaves versus
local philanthropic ecosystem in tradional charity. For example, in
which have
comparison to countries like the 2016, the Saifullah Foundaon, the provided more
United States and the United family foundaon under the Saif support to
Kingdom, where a number of family Group, gave a grant to Grit 3D, a innovations and
foundaons fund and support startup in the Invest2Innovate
entrepreneurs in
enterprises, is relavely weak and Accelerator.
underdeveloped. recent years.

As a result, many entrepreneurs


look for seed funding/grants from
other sources like local
compeons, corporaons, as well
as players like the U.S. Embassy,
United Naons, USAID and DFID
(UKs Aid Agency), which have
provided more support to
innovaons and entrepreneurs in

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

MJS FOUNDATION (Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundaon) provides grants to support
healthcare, educaon and social enterprise with a special focus on
women, minories, children and disabled individuals in Pakistan. The
JS Foundaon, a family foundaon with oces in Karachi, has provided
considerable funding to Acumen, and provided $500,000 to launch
Acumens local fellows program in Pakistan a few years ago. The
foundaon also co-invested with Acumen, Grameen Bank, and Amar
Foundaon in Kashf Holdings, the parent company to Kashf
Foundaon, one of the largest micronance instuons in Pakistan
that has enabled more than two million female microentrepreneurs in
the country.

AMAN FOUNDATION is a non-prot foundaon that was founded by Abraaj Capital Founder
Arif Naqvi and his family in 2008. The current CEO of the foundaon is
Malik Ahmad Jalal. Aman focuses its grant-making acvies mainly in
Karachi and supports healthcare, nutrion and educaon & skills.
Aman Foundaon has mainly focused its grants on internal iniaves
and programs, such as Aman Ambulance and Aman Tech, though the
foundaon is open to supporng outside iniaves.

is an iniave seeded by Google Pakistan and implemented by the


P@SHA FUND FOR Pakistan Soware Houses Associaon for IT & ITES (P@SHA) to provide
SOCIAL INNOVATION small grants to innovave ideas that use technology either as a
development plaorm or as a plaorm for delivery. The P@SHA Fund
launched in 2011 and the total funding allocaon of a typical P@SHA
Fund award is up to $10,000. As of 2016, the Fund has completed
giving out grants (based on the amount given by Google), and will not
be providing more in the future.

ASHOKA is a global social entrepreneur organizaon that recognizes leading


social entrepreneurs through their Ashoka fellows program. Ashoka
fellows receive funding and work in over 70 countries around the
world. Ashoka generally grants the fellowship to social entrepreneurs
with signicant tracon on the ground. Ashoka has supported 47
fellows in Pakistan thus far, though have not elected new fellows in the
last few years in the country.

ACUMEN PAKISTAN (See also: Venture Capital) is a global impact investment fund that has
FELLOWS PROGRAM been operang in Pakistan since 2002. Their Regional Fellows Program
(dierent from the Acumen Global Fellows Program) is a one-year
leadership development program designed to build the next
generaon of social leaders in Pakistan, India and East Africa. Each
year, Acumen selects 20 leaders from across Pakistan for the program,
who parcipate in ve week-long seminars, where they receive the
tools, training and space to innovate new ideas, and accelerate their
impact.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

CORPORATIONS
Corporations can play a significant role in supporting entrepreneurs
in Pakistan, either through funding or through support on value
chain and service delivery of their products or services.

Telecommunicaon partners, in parcular, can be Rocket Internet, though controversial for their
instrumental in expanding an entrepreneurs reach bullish copy replicaon strategy across markets,
to their target customer base given that there are has had a deep presence in Pakistan, with
120 million mobile phone subscribers in the companies like Daraz.pk and Food Panda operang
country. Since 2014, increasingly more at a fairly large scale in the country. The presence of
corporaons (parcularly from the Rocket Internet has resulted in an acquision of the
telecommunicaons sector) have played a role in startup EatOye (acquired by Food Panda in 2015),
Pakistans entrepreneurial community like but its high employee turnover has also resulted in
Telenor, which launched its own accelerator well-trained and highly-skilled individuals entering
program, Telenor Velocity, Mobilink, which is the entrepreneurship space, either as founders,
supporng the new Naonal Incubaon Centre, investors, or as hires at startups.
and Samsung, which was a sponsor of the Nest i/o,
P@SHAs Karachi-based incubator. Internaonal technology companies, like Google,
Microso, and Facebook, have an increasing
However, many corporaons connue to conduct presence in the country. Google Pakistan has played
tradional corporate social responsibility an extremely signicant role in strengthening
programs, like donang money to educaon Pakistans technology sector, and their advocacy
non-prot organizaons or other local charies. was responsible for the Pakistani government
The Engro Foundaon, as an example, is the unblocking YouTube in January 2016. The
foundaon of the Engro Group, and supports establishment of naonwide Google Developer
health, educaon, and livelihood projects in and Groups and Google Business Groups
around the companys producon facilies. The community-organized developer and entrepreneur
team at the Foundaon is open to funding startups meetups is important, and are led by volunteers
working in the agriculture space, but this has not who manage chapters in major cies in the country.
yet amounted to actual iniaves as of yet. While Google Pakistan also provided seed funding to the
Coca Cola Pakistan has launched innovave P@SHA Fund for Social Innovaon and the
iniaves like Coke Studio, a highly popular music Technology for People Iniave (TPI), which was a
program, it has not yet taken steps to similarly joint venture by Google and the Lahore University
support entrepreneurship as the company has of Management Sciences (LUMS) to promote the
done elsewhere in the world with iniaves like use of technology to create soluons to Pakistans
the Coca Cola MENA Scholars Program (in which socioeconomic problems. The Nest i/o was partly
Coca Cola MENA took young entrepreneurial funded by Google for Entrepreneurs, and Google
students from the Middle East, including some Pakistan recently brought Pakistan-based startups
Pakistanis, to do a month-long training and to Singapore to meet with investors in the country.
development program). Unilever Pakistan recently Microso Pakistan has also undertaken serious
launched Unilever Foundry, which is partnering eorts to support developers and technology-based
with the countrys leading incubators and entrepreneurs, launching Microso Innovaon
accelerators to give young innovators the Centers in Lahore and Karachi. Finally, Facebooks
opportunity to partner with the corporaon. internet.org iniave is now live in Pakistan via a
partnership with Telenor Pakistan.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

ANGEL INVESTORS
Angel investment has been largely informal in the past in Pakistan,
with successful entrepreneurs investing with their friends and in
entrepreneurs they already knew. The term angel investment
originated in Silicon Valley, and in 2014, we reported that it was
just gaining traction in Pakistan.

However, since 2014, there has The increased number of support As the number of
been an increasing number of angel players in Pakistan has also
investors based in Pakistan, and encouraged the growth of the angel
angel investors
many preexisng investors have investment space in the country, increases, were
begun to shi into proper and more migang risk and giving investors seeing the profile
formalized fund vehicles. The access to more deals. shift slightly to
early-stage capital gap in Pakistan is
include some
sll very much a reality, but the Below are ve notable angel funds
trend towards more formalized that have formed since next-generation
angel funds and co-investment is Invest2Innovates last ecosystem members of these
encouraging. report in 2014, which is signicant family
given that two years ago, none of conglomerates,
Originally, the typical Pakistani these eorts were truly formalized
angel investor was relavely into proper funds. The menoned
who are more
younger, had achieved (self-made) funds are based in Karachi and progressive and
business success from the IT space Lahore, but there are eorts in open to new
in Pakistan, and had some exposure Islamabad via OPEN Islamabad and styles of
to Western-style angel invesng in TiE Islamabad (which is involved
Silicon Valley, New York City, with CresVentures). Other notable
investment.
London or elsewhere. There were individual angel investors include
not a lot of notable angel investors Faisal Sherjan, who is based in
from larger Pakistani family Lahore and has invested in a
conglomerates, and those who number of technology startups,
were investors were known to including BookMe, Travly, and
demand a high amount of equity in XGear, and Nadeem Hussain, the
companies (oen between 50% to founder of Tameer Bank who is
100%). However, as the number of invesng in startups via an enty
angel investors increases, were called Planet N. The ecosystem for
seeing the prole shi slightly to angel investment is sll nascent,
include some next-generaon and there is sll an enormous need
members of these family to build community, trust, and
conglomerates, who are more educate investors and startups on
progressive and open to new styles both sides.
of investment.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

DOTZERO VENTURES is a seed and angel investment fund based in Karachi. The
establishment of DotZero was led by Yusuf Jan, a well-known angel
investor in Pakistan (aer his company, MixIt, exited for $20 million),
and includes other investors like Farzal Dojki, Imran Moinuddin, Af
Azim, Nadeem Elahi, Omer Ehsham, and Bilal Lakhani. The funds
porolio includes Popinjay, Inaaya, WhisperO, Cleanry, Artsy, as well as
PerkUp and Sukoon (a co-investment with CresVentures).

CRESVENTURES is an angel capital rm based in Lahore, and is an iniave of the


Crescent Group. CresVentures was established by Humayun Mazhar,
and includes partnerships with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Lahore
and Islamabad. Their porolio includes Perkup and Sukoon (a
co-investment with DotZero), and Travly. The fund is interested in four
major areas travel & logiscs, home & oce, nancial technology,
and arcial intelligence.

ARPATECH VENTURES is an angel fund based in Karachi. The fund primarily focuses on
technology ventures in e-commerce, cyber security and logiscs.
Arpatech was founded by Jamal Khan, its principal is Rai Umair, and the
funds porolio includes Investor Lounge, Sheops, Forrun, and EatOye.

FATIMA VENTURES is an angel investment iniave by the Fama Group in Lahore. Led by
Ali Mukhtar, Fama Ventures most recently invested $280,000 in PlanX
startup BeautyHooked and has previously invested $220,000 in LCE
graduated startup Interacta

PLANET N is an angel fund and accelerator launched by Nadeem Hussain, the


founder of Tameer Bank. Since 2015, Planet N has invested in 14
start-ups across e-commerce, ntech, edutech, superfood agriculture,
retail and renewables sectors. According to an interview with
TechinAsia in September 2016, Hussain says hes wrien personal
checks of over US$6 million in the past few months alone, making him
one of the most acve angel investors in the country.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

VENTURE CAPITAL
There are only a handful of venture capital funds in Pakistan, and
since 2014 edition of this report, there are less funds operating in
the country (Impakt Capital and DYL Ventures have not made new
investments since 2014).

Acumen is the longest-running more venture funds to operate in There is a need


venture capital rm operang in Pakistan, given the early stage
Pakistan, invesng since 2002 in capital gap however, issues like
for more venture
impact-oriented companies in the the regulatory framework, the high funds to operate
country like Ansaar Management costs of conducng due diligence in in Pakistan, given
Company, a low-cost housing early-stage companies, and weak the early stage
company, and Kashf Foundaon, a pipeline are said to inhibit investors
capital gap
nancial instuon. Both Insitor from launching venture funds.
Management, an impact
investment rm with headquarters
in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and
Aavishkaar, and India-based
venture capital fund, announced
plans to invest in Pakistan in 2014,
but have not yet announced any
deals. Accion Venture Lab, an
investment iniave that provides
paent seed capital and support to
innovave nancial inclusion
start-ups, has not yet made
investments in Pakistan but have
indicated that the country is a
priority market, and connues to
explore opportunies, parcularly
in partnership with Karandaaz. The
Dawood Hercules Group, which
owns companies like the Engro
Corporaon have indicated an
interest in invesng in agriculture
or energy startups that can also
benet from the scale of the
conglomerates networks and
customer base. There is a need for

20 |
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

ACUMEN is a global impact investment fund that has been operang in Pakistan
since 2002. Acumens investment sectors include agriculture,
educaon, energy, water, health, and housing, with $14.6 million
invested in companies in Pakistan thus far. Acumen Pakistans head
oces are in Karachi, with a smaller oce in Lahore (global
headquarters are in NYC). While Acumen is primarily a venture capital
INSITOR MANAGEMENT fund, they are well-known in Pakistan for their local fellows program
(see above), and have also announced plans to launch a social
enterprise incubator in the future.

is an impact investment rm based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with a


geographic focus on Southeast Asia and India. Insitor recently hired a
team in Pakistan to begin deploying capital in the country, but have not
yet announced any investments.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

PRIVATE EQUITY
There are a few private equity funds in Pakistan, with many citing
deal flow and lack of exits as continuing issues.

In 2013, the United States Agency among its neighbors and within the By investing in
for Internaonal Development global economy. While USAID
(USAID) announced the Pakistan could have created a venture
Pakistani private
Private Investment Iniave (PPII) capital fund (to address the early businesses, the
as a new approach to invest private stage capital gap), ocials noted United States is
equity in Pakistani SMEs. In a that because private equity is supporting
statement released by the agency, relavely lower risk, this was a
private sector
they noted, By invesng in beer approach to rst prove to
Pakistani private businesses, the U.S. Congress that investment growth and job
United States is supporng private versus tradional grant making can creation and
sector growth and job creaon foster deeper economic change and Pakistans role as
and Pakistans role as a robust and show results. a robust and
fast-growing economic partner
fast-growing
economic partner
among its
neighbors and
within the global
economy.
- The United States
Agency for
International
Development (USAID)

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

ABRAAJ CAPITAL is a Dubai-based private equity fund that invests globally. Its new fund
for Pakistan is also part of the USAID PPII. Abraaj has made some
large-scale investments in Pakistan, including a $361 million equity
investment in the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) that was
deployed over three years from 2008-2011. Abraaj Capitals Founder
Arif Naqvi, also founded Aman Foundaon (as noted in the
Foundaons secon) to deploy grant capital.

JS PRIVATE EQUITY is a private equity fund under the JS Group of Companies, which also
includes the MJS Foundaon noted earlier. JSPE was also one of the
funds selected by USAIDs PPII.

BALTORO CAPITAL is a $48.5 million private equity fund based in Islamabad that is also
implemenng USAIDs PPII in Pakistan. Baltoro is led by the partners of
Indus Basin Holdings, a venture capital rm that was launched in 2012
that invests in high-growth agriculture projects.

ABU DHABI GROUP is a foreign private equity rm that makes investments in banking,
telecommunicaons, and real estate. Notable investments for the fund
include Bank Alfalah, Warid Telecommunicaons, and United Bank
Limited in Pakistan. The Abu Dhabi Group also invested in Monet, a
mobile commerce venture in Pakistan. In 2013, the fund commied to
invest $45 billion in various construcon projects in Pakistan, but there
have been no recent news of any new investments or deals by the
company.

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3
SUPPORT
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

COMPETITIONS, CONFERENCES
AND FORUMS
There are a vast number of competitions, conferences, and
forums within Pakistan to support entrepreneurial ideation,
provide start up financing and validation, and raise visibility for
companies in Pakistan.

This number has increased considerably since Invest2Innovates last report in 2014. Many of these
compeons are local chapters of global brands (Startup Weekend, Challenge Cup, and Startup Cup,
for example), and are organized by local youth, entrepreneurs and industry leaders. For example,
Startup Cup is a global network, and has partnered with TiEs Islamabad chapter to put on the event
annually in Pakistan since 2013. While this acvity is excing, its important for ideas that result from
such compeons to receive addional business support post-event to ensure that good ideas can
turn into viable businesses. Below are some of the most notable iniaves in Pakistan.

is a global network of decentralized hackathons, in which potenal STARTUP WEEKEND


entrepreneurs work in teams to launch a startup in just 54 hours. There
have been a number of Startup Weekends in the country in
Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar. The events are organized by
local youth who act as chapter leaders in each city. The rst Startup
Weekend launched in Lahore at LUMS in 2011, and the most recent
Startup Weekend took place in Karachi in October 2016

is a private-sector-driven and donor-supported non-prot organizaon PAKISTAN


charged with promong Innovaon across Pakistan, parcularly within
INNOVATION
the Corporate Sector of the country. Founded and led by Athar Osama,
PIF conducts a number of iniaves from innovaon labs &
FOUNDATION
challenges, (most recently the Karachi Innovaon Challenge 2016), to
the Pakistan Innovaon Forum, to research and advocacy.

is an annual awards ceremony that celebrates innovaon and P@SHA ICT AWARDS
excellence in Pakistans technology industry. Organized by the Pakistan
Soware Houses Associaon for IT & ITES (P@SHA), the winners go on
to compete in the Asia Pacic ICT Awards (APICTA), which will be held
in Taiwan in December 2016. The latest ceremony was in October
2016, and marked the 13th year the awards were held in Pakistan.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

STARTUP CUP is a global network of locally driven business model compeons. The
rst Pakistan Startup Cup was held in Islamabad in 2013 and organized
by TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Islamabad Chapter. Startup Cup has
been held every year since then, with intensive mentorship and
support given to selected startups.

CODE FOR PAKISTAN


supports civic-based innovaon and entrepreneurship in Pakistan.
CIVIC HACKATHONS
Code for Pakistan holds a series of civic hackathons that aim to
produce entrepreneurial soluons to improve the quality of life in
Pakistan. Code for Pakistan has run 8 Civic Hackathons in Karachi,
Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar since 2013, with follow-on group
meengs in Lahore for parcipants called the Lahore Brigade. 36
projects have won from these compeons, 13 are sll operaonal and
4 were adopted by the [provincial] government. Code for Pakistan also
runs a Civic Innovaon Fellowship in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (in
partnership with the KP IT Board and the World Bank). So far, 30
fellows from this program.

is an annual compeon for science and technology entrepreneurs


GLOBAL INNOVATION
from emerging economies worldwide. Up to 30 nalists from the
THROUGH SCIENCE & compeon receive a trip to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit
TECHNOLOGY (GIST) (held in a dierent country each year), and have the opportunity to
TECH-I showcase their ventures and receive intensive training. GIST Tech-I
winners, selected by experts at the GES, win prizes, and receive
one-on-one mentorship and training.

is an iniave to support entrepreneurs, with headquarters in


JUMPSTART PAKISTAN
Islamabad. Jumpstart holds events like Shepherds Pie, which gives
& SEEDSTARS WORLD startups the opportunity to pitch before investors. JP was also the
Seedstars Pakistan organizer, a local compeons, where the winners
aend the Seedstars World compeon.

MIT ENTERPRISE is a chapter of the global MIT Enterprise Forum and aims to support
technology businesses in the country. MITEFPs Business Acceleraon
FORUM PAKISTAN
Program (BAP) aims to help accelerate the parcipang IT
companies/teams to the next level by pung these companies/teams
through a mentoring/coaching program. The rst MITEFP was held in
2009 in partnership with the Pakistani Diaspora organizaon OPEN,
and connues to host the compeon in the country.

SLUSH is Europes leading startup conference based out of Finland.


Invest2Innovate organized the local Slush Pakistan compeon in 2015
and 2016, and the startups winners receive a trip to Helsinki, Finland to
take part and compete in the internaonal conference.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

is the local chapter compeon of the Challenge Cup, a global startup CHALLENGEX
compeon organized by Washington, D.C.-based accelerator and
fund, 1776. Invest2Innovate has been the ChallengeX partner for
Pakistan since 2015, and the winners receive a trip to the regional
compeon in Dubai, U.A.E. for a chance to aend the nal Challenge
Cup in Washington, D.C. where they can win up to $1 million in cash
and prizes.

is a technology conference that aims to bring together and celebrate DIGITAL YOUTH
Pakistans technology community. The rst DYS was held in Peshawar in
SUMMIT
May 2014, and was produced by Peshawar 2.0, KPITB, and the World
Bank. The rst summit spanned two days and was widely popular, with
more than 800 parcipants. In May 2015, DYS had over 3500
parcipants in Peshawar, and featured panels and breakout sessions
with 100 speakers from Pakistan and around the world on various
aspects of tech entrepreneurship, freelancing, as well as online and
social innovaons. DYS has not yet announced a date for the next
conference, but it is said to occur in 2017.

is a hackathon iniated by Netsol Technologies and held at the Lahore THROWATHON BY NETSOL
University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The Throwathon is a
compeon focused on building technology products like mobile apps,
games etc.

is an online hackathon launched by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa IT Board KP APPS CHALLENGE


(KPITB) that gives parcipants the opportunity to create mobile and
web applicaons, websites or any other tech tools with winning teams
geng access to career and product development opportunies.

is an organisaon with the mission to promote leadership and CIRCLE


entrepreneurship campaign for the youth and women. Their Elevate
campaign focuses on gender balance on panels, events or any event
that promotes decision making and opinion sharing on whatever topic
is at hand while their campaign, Elevate The Youth fellowship is
focused towards empowering the Youth and was started in 2016 with
their rst batch having graduated already.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

KARANDAAZ was established in August 2014 with funding from UKAid and the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundaon, and the startup phase of the organizaon
was managed by the World Banks Consultave Group to Assist the
Poor (CGAP). Karandaaz promotes access to nance for small
businesses through a commercially directed investment plaorm, and
nancial inclusion for individuals by employing technology enabled
digital soluons. Karandaaz has iniated a series of research on
nancial inclusion and the digital nance space, and has launched a
number of challenges, most recently the Fintech Disrupt Challenge
2016 with the LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship (LCE), and a
partnership with Pakistan Post to digize money orders.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

MEDIA
Over the last few years, there has been an increased number of
technology and entrepreneurship blogs and websites that cover
the major developments in Pakistans startup ecosystem.

We did not feature a secon on media in our 2014 report, but feel their presence is signicant in
promong the culture of Pakistans entrepreneurship community. While mainstream news agencies do
cover Pakistans burgeoning startup space, these media plaorms are solely dedicated to covering this
community, and have aracted a signicant following in recent years.

is Pakistans leading technology media plaorm, dedicated to proling TECHJUICE


and promong Pakistani startups and entrepreneurs. It also reviews
new emerging gadgets and breaking technology news, and includes a
job portal. Founded in 2014, by Fama Rizwan, TechJuice has quickly
become the go-to plaorm for techies, geeks, businessmen, startup
founders and venture capitalists in Pakistan and abroad.

was launched in 2014 by serial entrepreneur Hasan Saleem. It covers PAKWIRED


everything about business, technology, and the startup culture in
Pakistan.

was one of the ever IT and telecommunicaons blogs from Pakistan, PROPAKISTANI
and was established in 2008 by Amir Aaa. Currently, ProPakistani
covers everything from IT, telecom to startups and is regarded as the
leading news plaorm for the IT & ITES sector.

is a media, events, and jobs plaorm for Asias tech communies with TECHINASIA
the mission to serve and build Asias tech communies. It is the only
internaonal plaorm that has a specic secon featuring arcles and
stories from Pakistans tech and startup ecosystem.

is a publicaon by the Massachuses Instute of Technology (MIT) that MIT TECHNOLOGY


was founded in 1899 and is known as the leading voice on technology. REVIEW PAKISTAN
In 2015, the Informaon Technology University (ITU) became the sole
licensee of MIT Tech Review in Pakistan, and aims to showcase and
promote the rapidly expanding science, technology and
entrepreneurship landscape of Pakistan.

30 |
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

UNIVERSITIES
There is a large role that universities and academia can play in
supporting and promoting entrepreneurship, particularly by
providing space for students to test and incubate potential
businesses and learn entrepreneurial skills.

In Pakistan, where there are 128 fully recognized university-level entrepreneurs. Universies should
universies, there has been much acvity at the also bring in adjunct professors or
university level in regard to entrepreneurship entrepreneurs-in-residence to encourage a more
incubaon centers. The Higher Educaon praccal to teaching entrepreneurship, grounded in
Commission (HEC), in parcular, has played a role real-life case studies and examples. The link
in promong incubaon at state-funded between university incubators and the private
universies via the setup of Business Incubaon sector via technology transfers also needs to be
Centers and Oces of Research, Innovaon and strengthened. There are a number of universies
Commercializaon (ORICs). However, the quality of engaged in entrepreneurship-related acvies, but
such programs sll very much needs to be below are the most notable instuons.
strengthened, and coordinaon among universies
is extremely important. University incubators
should not only provide space, but also
supplementary curriculum to strengthen

| 31
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

(see also: Incubators) is a private er 1 university in Lahore and one of LAHORE UNIVERSITY
the top schools in the country. LUMS launched the Centre for OF MANAGEMENT
Entrepreneurship in early 2014, which includes an incubator program
SCIENCES
(for entrepreneurs irrespecve if they are a student at LUMS) and
adapve oce space, and also houses the Social Innovaon Lab (SIL),
as well as the Technology for People Iniave (TPI), which was
launched in 2012 as a joint venture between LUMS and Google, and is
dedicated to using technology to create soluons relevant to the
socio-economic context of Pakistan.

(see also: Incubators) is a er 1 university in Islamabad and another NATIONAL UNIVERSITY


top school in Pakistan. NUSTs Centre for Innovaon &
OF SCIENCE &
Entrepreneurship provides programming and space (via the Technology
Incubaon Centre, TIC) for NUST students who want to test and build TECHNOLOGY
their ideas into businesses. CIE also houses the NUSTs Oces of
Research, Innovaon and Commercializaon (ORIC) as well as allied
oces for fostering industry-academia linkages and technology
transfers.

is a university in Islamabad that provides students incubaon and COMSATS INSTITUTE


business support at their school via the Business Incubaon Centre, OF TECHNOLOGY
and also aims to commercialize research that comes out of CIIT.

(see also: Incubators) is a er 1 university and one of Pakistans top INSTITUTE OF


business schools located in Karachi. IBAs Centre for Entrepreneurial
BUSINESS
Development (CED) provides entrepreneurship courses and space for
students.
ADMINISTRATION

is private university based in Karachi that was founded by Afaque KARACHI INSTITUTE
Ahmed in 2012. KITE provides students with a praccal and technology OF TECHNOLOGY &
centric educaon and an ecosystem with entrepreneurs and seasoned
ENTREPRENEURSHIP
execuves for networking. In September 2016, KITE partnered with
The City of Oslo, Telenor Norway, and Startup Lab to run the KITE-Oslo (KITE)
Startup Challenge, where the winning startups won an all-expenses
paid trip to Norway, where they pitched their businesses during Oslo
Innovaon Week, met with Norweigen investors, and were incubated
at Startup Lab for a month

32 |
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

INFORMATION is a higher educaon instuon that was founded in 2012 in Lahore to


advance scholarship and innovaon in the areas of science, technology
TECHNOLOGY
and engineering. ITU aims to teach entrepreneurial, industry-level
UNIVERSITY technology skills, with courses on design thinking, crical thinking, and
provides state of the art technology to its students. ITU is based out of
Arfa Soware Park (the same site as Plan9 and PlanX) and its Vice
Chancellor is Umar Saif (who is also the Chairman of the Punjab
Informaon Technology Board, PITB).

UNIVERSITY OF is based in Lahore, and established their Business Incubaon Centre


VETERINARY & (BIC) in July 2011 in collaboraon with the Higher Educaon
Commission (HEC). BIC is the 5th incubator set up by the HEC in
ANIMAL SERVICES
Pakistan to promote a more inclusive business environment, and
develop stronger industry-academia linkages.

INSTITUTE OF launched the Oces of Research, Innovaon & Commercializaon


MANAGEMENT (ORIC) at their instuon, which has been working on the promoon
of entrepreneurs in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and has also
SCIENCES,
collaborated with the University of Engineering in Peshawar. Recently,
PESHAWAR IM Sciences established an in-house Mobile Applicaon Development
Center with PurePush, an iniave by the Central Asia Cellular Forum.
Eorts have been made to improve the quality of EDC and the startups
they are trying to induct, which includes 5 companies per batch.

OTHER UNIVERSITIES IBA Sukkur (Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership & Innovaon)
University of Engineering & Technology, Peshawar (Technology
Incubaon Centre)
Bahria University Entrepreneurship Centre, Islamabad
Iqra University, Islamabad Campus
Karachi School of Business & Leadership (KSBL), Karachi
Habib University, Karachi

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

INCUBATORS
Incubators generally provide free or subsidized office space and
mentorship to idea-stage entrepreneurs to build and test their
product or service.

Currently, there are four notable incubators in services it is only recently that we have seen the
Pakistan (Plan9, The Nest i/o, LCE & Founders rise of technology startups creang products, and
Instute). Plan9 is the countrys largest technology they need space and mentorship to build these
incubator, has graduated the most entrepreneurs, businesses. Both Founders Instute Islamabad and
and has shown a number of success stories, as the Revolt incubator launched most recently in
have LCE and The Nest i/o. The emergence of 2016, and the new federal government-supported
incubators, parcularly for the technology sector, is incubator, the Naonal Incubaon Centre, is slated
reecve of a global trend but very much ts a to launch in 2017.
need in Pakistan, where young entrepreneurs
generally dont have space and mentorship to test
and iterate their products. In fact, the technology
sector in Pakistan has very much been focused on

34 |
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

PLAN9 is an iniave by the Punjab Informaon Technology Board (PITB) and


is Pakistans largest technology incubator. Housed at Arfa Soware Park
in Lahore, it was founded in 2012 and Plan9 has graduated 102
companies, out of which 67 are sll operaonal. Some of their
graduates, like Eyedeus Labs have gone on to join global incubaon
programs like Blackbox in the United States. A number of companies
have raised funding, including Travly, an Uber for Rickshaws model,
which raised $200,000 in seed funding from local angel investors like
CresVentures.

WOMENX WomenX is a plaorm focused towards empowering women


entrepreneurs that was founded in 2014. The program, funded by the
World Bank and led by Enclude Pakistan, has a presence in Lahore,
Karachi and Peshawar, and a total of 327 women have taken part in
their Program - 265 in Karachi, 40 in Lahore and 22 in Peshawar. Most
of the businesses are sll funconing but some of them have changed
their focus aer going through the program.

WECREATE CENTER is a coworking and incubaon space for women, based out of
Islamabad, which also provides a daycare facility so the women can
keep their children close by. WeCreate is run by the TiE Islamabad
Chapter, and is an iniave by the United States State Department.

SOCIAL (also see in: Universies) The Lahore University of Management


INNOVATION Sciences (LUMS) runs the Social Innovaon Lab, which houses an
incubator founded in 2013 called The Hatchery. This incubator focuses
LAB (SIL)
on mission-driven entrepreneurs developing innovave soluons to
local and global problems. Each cycle they select a group of individuals
with ideas and run them through an indigenized curriculum paired with
a mentorship program. So far 72 startups have graduated from The
Hatchery of which 32 are sll operaonal and 17 have raised funding.

LUMS CENTRE FOR (also see in: Universies) While the LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship
(LCE) is hosted at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in
ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Lahore, its business incubator is not exclusively for LUMS students, so
qualies more as a general incubator, rather than a university specic
incubator. LCE also operates an accelerator program. It acvely scouts
entrepreneurs from all over Pakistan and has the broadest
industry/sector focus. It was founded in June 2014 and has since
graduated 42 startups out of which 40 are sll operaonal and 14 have
raised funding.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

is P@SHA (Pakistan Soware House Associaon)s technology NEST I/O


incubator that launched in January 2015. The Nest i/o is supported by
Google for Entrepreneurs, Samsung and the US Embassy. So far they
have graduated 67 startups out of which 60 are sll operaonal while 8
have raised funding.

is a global incubator that has chapters worldwide working on idea FOUNDERS INSTITUTE
stage and early stage startups. While FI has two chapters in Pakistan,
one in Islamabad and one in Karachi, the Islamabad chapter appears to
be more acve, and announced the launch of their second semester in
October 2016. FI Islamabad is run by Yusuf Hussain, an acve angel
investor in Pakistan.conference, but it is said to occur in 2017.

launched in 2016 as an iniave of Peshawar 2.0, an entrepreneurship REVOLT


support organizaon in Peshawar that also launched Basecamp, a
coworking space. Their rst batch of 3 startups graduated in
September 2016. Revolt aims hold their program twice a year in
Peshawar, and will host an investor meet-up someme in Fall 2016.

is a co-working space and incubator in Abboabad focused towards


TECHVALLEY
promong and raising awareness around digital entrepreneurship and
innovaon across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Founded by ABBOTTABAD
Umar Farooq in 2015, TechValley aims to launch a tourism incubator in
Abboabad in the near future.

is an enterprise development organizaon based in Karachi. SEED SEED VENTURES


currently has ve kinds of incubaon centers convenonal incubaon
spaces (1), a corporate supply chain incubaon centers (2), incubaon
centers for urban micro-entrepreneurs (9), corporate incubaon
centers (1), and university incubaon centers (5).

is a business and technology incubator launched by Netsol, one of NSPIRE


Pakistans leading IT companies. According to their website, they aim
to select their rst batch of entrepreneurs by November 2016.

(also see in: Universies) is an incubator based out of the Naonal NUST TECHNOLOGY
University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad. It was INCUBATION CENTRE
started in 2005 and has since graduated 21 startups. The incubaon
centre is housed under the Centre for Innovaon and Entrepreneurship
at the University. TIC has a rolling admissions process, with a relavely
longer incubaon period.

36 |
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

IBA CENTER FOR (also see in: Universies) is an incubator based out of the Instute of
Business Administraon Karachi, but is open to all entrepreneurs.
ENTREPRENEURIAL
Founded in 2011, 22 ventures have so far graduated from CED, while 9
DEVELOPMENT have raised funding.

NATIONAL In May 2016, Pakistans federal government announced the launch of


INCUBATION TechCity, the rst naonally backed incubaon center. The ICT R&D
CENTER Fund awarded the $5.5 million contract to telecommunicaons
company Mobilink and TeamUp to launch the center in 2017, and the
facility will be run and maintained for at least ve years.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

ACCELERATORS
Accelerators typically provide business support and
mentorship to businesses that are still early-stage but have
achieved some sort of traction with their product or service.
The programs tend to be the next stage after incubation.
Accelerators sometimes invest in their startups, or take a small
percentage of equity in these companies.

accelerates early-stage impact entrepreneurs in Pakistan and connects INVEST2INNOVATE


them to mentorship and seed capital. The i2i team is based in
Islamabad, but the program runs in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi
over four months each year. The Accelerator is a four-month program,
but entrepreneurs convene for six in-person weekends during that
me period. i2i has accelerated 21 companies since 2012, with 15 that
are sll operaonal, and is now raising an early-stage venture capital
fund to invest in their pipeline in the near future.

was launched by the Punjab Informaon Technology Board (PITB) in PLANX


Fall 2014 following the success of the Plan9 incubator. PlanX is a
technology accelerator that has graduated 22 startups of which 20 are
sll funconal and 8 have received funding.

is an eort by telecommunicaons company Telenor to enter Pakistans TELENOR VELOCITY


startup ecosystem. The program focuses on helping startups go to
market over a period of 6 months by accessing Telenor Pakistans scale
and assets. Telenor Velocity recently inaugurated its second batch of
startups in Fall 2016.

aims to provide seed funding, advice and shared services to 10XC


entrepreneurs working on ideas or concepts towards validaon of
product/market t. The accelerator and seed fund oers $10,000 for
20% equity stake in their selected companies. Their rst batch was
inducted in August 2016 and will graduate in December, and their
second batch will be inducted in February 2017.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

COWORKING SPACES
Coworking spaces not only provide physical and subsidized
office space for startup entrepreneurs and take care of many
overhead and infrastructural headaches like electricity and
internet, but also create a community for startups in the cities
where they work.

In 2013, the United States Agency for Internaonal Development (USAID) announced the Pakistan Private
Coworking is a relavely new concept in Pakistan, but it is gaining in tracon and popularity, parcularly
given that these spaces absorb overhead costs, and are cheaper than businesses nding their own space.
These spaces are also exible for growing small companies, with entrepreneurs able to rent a desk for one
person, and transion to a smaller oce as the company hires more employees. Since 2014, there has
been an increase in these oces, with shared spaces located in most of Pakistans major cies. This is
important not only because it provides real estate to entrepreneurs and growing businesses, but also
because all of these oces oer event space, where an increasing amount of entrepreneurship-related
events and forums take place.

DOTZERO is a coworking space in Karachi founded in 2013 by four technology


entrepreneurs. DotZero provides workspace and desks for startups,
and also has a community space where the organizaon hosts events
and talks to further foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Aside from a
coworking space, DotZero also runs DotZero Ventures, their angel
investment fund (see Angel Investors secon).

TECHHUB CONNECT is a workspace for freelancers in Lahore, launched by the Punjab


Informaon Technology Board (PITB) in 2014 and run by Plan9. It is
housed at the Arfa Soware Park in Lahore.

BASECAMP is a coworking space in Peshawar that provides oce space to startups


as well as community events and networking. Peshawar 2.0, an
entrepreneurship support player in the province, founded Basecamp in
2013.

THE HIVE based in Islamabad, it oers dedicated and open oce space, as well
as event space. Serial entrepreneur Owais Zaidi founded The Hive in
2016.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

is a fully equipped oce space located in Karachi. CoPakistan caters to COPAKISTAN


all entrepreneurs, but also appeals to the citys creave community of
designers and freelancers.

is a new coworking space that is slated to launch by the end of 2016. DAFTWARKHWAN

is Rawalpindis rst coworking space and incubaon center that also LAUNCHPAD7
strives to become an acvity hub of startup-related acvity and events.
The oce launched in January 2016, and was founded by Khurram
Mujtaba, who is the CEO of Jumpstart Pakistan.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS,
ORGANIZATIONS & NETWORKS
There are a number of entrepreneur associations and groups
in the country, which aim to build community and celebrate
successes of entrepreneurs.

OPEN, the Organizaon of Pakistani Entrepreneurs, for instance, began as an entrepreneurs network for
the Pakistani Diaspora in the United States, but has since launched chapters in Islamabad, Lahore, and
Karachi. TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, is for South Asian entrepreneurs, but has local chapters in all three
major cies. P@SHA, the Pakistan Soware Houses Associaon for IT & ITES, is the most acve associaon
for Pakistans technology industry, and eorts by U.S.-based organizaons like the Center for Private
Enterprise (CIPE) in Pakistan are notable and important for the business industry as a whole.

P@SHA is the only trade associaon for soware and IT companies in Pakistan.
It holds a number of compeons and iniaves and serves to
strengthen the entrepreneurship environment, parcularly for
technology companies. One of P@SHA's main tasks has been to create
a network of mentors over the past 20 years who have now started to
also assist other startup iniaves that have begun in recent years.
P@SHA also works on policy-related issues and legislaon to
strengthen the enabling environment, including Data Protecon,
Privacy and Cyber Crime legislaons, which they have been working on
since 2007.

The associaon launched about een years ago by a number of


soware houses in an aempt to create a funconal trade associaon
for the IT industry in Pakistan. There are over 450 members of the
associaon today. Most notable iniaves under the P@SHA umbrella
include the Nest i/o, the P@SHA ICT Awards, and the P@SHA Social
Innovaon Fund.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

launched local chapters in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, which host OPEN
annual conferences as well as quarterly events and networking
opportunies. OPEN Islamabad has also supported local hackathons
and has indicated their intenon to raise a seed fund. OPEN was
originally known as the Organizaon of Pakistani Entrepreneurs in
North America (today it is just the Organizaon of Pakistani
Entrepreneurs), and was started as a Diaspora organizaon in 1998
with chapters across the United States (the rst chapter was in Boston,
Massachuses). The associaon was rst established to support the
work of Pakistani American entrepreneurs, but now exists to
strengthen the linkages between Pakistani American entrepreneurs
and entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Forums like the MIT Enterprise Forum
exemplify these linkages between the Diaspora and Pakistan.

is similar to OPEN except that its network includes both Indian and TIE
Pakistani entrepreneurs abroad. TiE has chapters in Islamabad, Karachi,
and Lahore. It was founded in 1992 with the aim to support the work
of South Asian entrepreneurs. TiE launched chapters in Pakistan before
OPEN, and has conducted conferences and compeons (like TiE Con).
The TiE Islamabad chapter is very acve, and has been the organizer of
Startup Cup and the manager of the WeCreate Center. Both TiE
Islamabad and TiE Lahore are invesng as angel investors (Yusuf
Hussain and Humayun Mazhar from the Islamabad and Lahore
chapters respecvely, are co-invesng in startups).

is a network for women entrepreneurs and business leaders, and is LADIES FUND
headquartered in Karachi. It was established in 2007 by Tara Dawood
and reportedly has 12,000 members. Some of their 2014 goals include
placing three women in board seats, facilitang 25 business deals
between women entrepreneurs, and training 1000 women and youth
entrepreneurs at the 4th Annual LadiesFund Conference.

is an iniave by U.S. State Department and American University (AU), U.S.-PAKISTAN


in collaboraon with the Organizaon of Pakistani Entrepreneurs
WOMENS COUNCIL
(OPEN) to advance economic opportunies for women in Pakistan. The
Council was launched in 2012, and includes eorts like the WeCreate
Center and the Pakistan Women Entrepreneurs Program.

42 |
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4
2016 ECOSYSTEM TRENDS
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

2016 ECOSYSTEM TRENDS


Based on the ecosystem map above, and based on changes in the
Pakistan Entrepreneurship Ecosystem since 2014 we can make a
few observations of trends and overarching gaps:

1 Theres just more.


Since the 2014 edion of this report, the biggest observaon is that theres more support
players, more iniaves, and more investors. Overall, Pakistans startup acvity has
increased signicantly in just two years. While this is promising and excing, it also raises
some concerns around the quality of these iniaves, and whether we are measuring and
holding such players accountable for the value they deliver to the space and to their
entrepreneurs. For example, while the Higher Educaon Commission (HEC)s aempt to
set up business incubaon centers at public universies across Pakistan is laudable, many
of these centers connue to funcon as empty spaces without real support or
entrepreneurship-based curriculum for students. Moreover, just because there are more
players, doesnt mean they are all eciently addressing the gaps in Pakistans ecosystem.
For instance, while there has been a steady increase in incubators, there hasnt been an
increase in post-seed nancing or venture capital rms. More should be done to improve
exisng iniaves, and ensure, through collaboraon and cooperaon, that new iniaves
connue to support the enre ecosystem as a whole.

2 Theres a need for more


collaboration and
education.
While there are a number of new players, exisng organizaons should connue to share
pipeline and work together. This has been evident among angel investors in Pakistan
CresVentures and DotZero Ventures have shared due diligence in the past and have
co-invested in startups like PerkUp and Sukoon. Support players like The Nest i/o, i2i, LCE
& Plan9/PlanX also work together entrepreneurs from Plan9, LCE & The Nest i/o have
also graduated to the i2i Accelerator and PlanX but theres a need to connue to share
best pracces and build deeper collaboraons in the future. Moreover, while the increase
in angel investors is encouraging, it is also important to increase their knowledge and
understanding of investment, parcularly for those who are rst-me investors. In a 2016
interview with Khurram Zafar, who runs LCE, he noted, One thing that needs to be done
is investor educaon - no one has made a concerted eort to do anything about that yet.

48 |
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

3 More angels, less VCs,


more Private Equity
players.
As indicated in the ecosystem map, we have seen a shi towards a more formalized angel
investment space, with investors co-invesng across funds and sharing due diligence,
thereby migang risk. The launch of USAIDs Pakistan Private Investment Iniave (PPII)
has led to three new private equity funds in 2015. At the same me, the number of
venture capital funds in Pakistan has dwindled, with exisng players like Acumen and
Insitor invesng in sectors very dierent from angel investment funds. As a result, there is
an early-stage capital gap in Pakistan that is widening startups may have more opons to
raise seed funding than in 2014, but very few places to go for VC and post-seed funding.
Private equity players, meanwhile, may run into the issue of a lack of deal ow and a weak
pipeline due to this capital gap. This will be discussed further in the Gaps & Challenges
secon of this report.

4 The policy environment


continues to be a massive
challenge for
entrepreneurs and
investors in Pakistan .
This point will be discussed further in the Gaps & Challenges secon of the report, but
overall the policy environment connues to plague Pakistans overarching business
environment. While startup acvity has increased signicantly in the country over the past
few years, Pakistan connues to drop down on the World Banks Doing Business rankings,
placing at 138 out of 189 countries in 2016. The regulatory challenges in this environment
threaten to stunt the innovaons and excing acvity that we have observed, and the lack
of polical will to address these challenges is concerning.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

5 Payments continue to
plague both entrepreneurs
and investors alike.
Payment gateways and the ow of money in and out of Pakistan connue to be one of the
biggest challenges facing technology-based businesses and investors in the country. We
will delve into this issue further in the Gaps & Challenges secon of the report.

6 There are success stories


emerging, but what we
really need is data.
As will be noted in the Gaps & Challenges secon, the lack of industry-level data is a clear
issue for the Pakistani environment, which has become apparent as Pakistans ecosystem
has grown and qualitave success stories have emerged. While these successes are
posive, data-driven stories and analyses are key to migang risk for outside investors
and stakeholders. Data can also help in reducing the cost of due diligence for current
investment players, a key issue noted by interviewees for this study.

50 |
While the recent ecosystem activity in Pakistan
is encouraging, the support environment for
entrepreneurship is still very nascent, and
numerous regulatory and finance challenges
persist. The overall security environment
(despite recent improvements) and
infrastructure in Pakistan also are obstacles
for entrepreneurs. In a survey conducted by
Invest2Innovate in February 2014, respondents
named external factors such as political
instability (51%), corruption (59%), and
crime/theft/disorder (42%) as major or severe
obstacles to doing business in Pakistan. The
continuous availability of electricity was also
listed as an obstacle to running a business in
the country (47.5%), with respondents also
noting transport (37.6%) and security (35.3%)
as somewhat difficult obstacles.
5
GAPS AND CHALLENGES
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

POLICY
Policies that increase transparency, simplify and facilitate the
processes of business formalization, and support small businesses
can serve as the cornerstone of a strong entrepreneurial
ecosystem in Pakistan.

It is essenal that the government business license or permit, while The lack of a
provide support, security, and a 55% said it was either easy or
broad-based regulatory somewhat easy to open a bank
favorable
environment for businesses. account in the country. Also, only enabling
Policies that increase transparency, 31% saw tax administraon as environment in
simplify and facilitate the processes either a minor obstacle or not an Pakistan mean
of business formalizaon, and obstacle at all. This is interesng
many
support small businesses can serve given the aforemenoned Doing
as the cornerstone of a strong Business stascs, which may show entrepreneurs
entrepreneurial ecosystem in that despite requirements and eventually direct
Pakistan. procedures, entrepreneurs dont their energies to
perceive this as an obstacle to rent-seeking
The current policy and regulatory starng a business. In Pakistan, the
framework in Pakistan is far from common percepon is that starng
rather than
ideal, with the 2016 Doing Business a business in Pakistan is relavely productive
report by the World Bank Group easy, but closing a business is entrepreneurship
ranking the country 138 out of 189 signicantly more dicult, given that contribute to
economies in 2016 (as compared to the multude of procedures and
110 in 2014). In the same study, tax-related issues.
much-needed
Pakistan was ranked 122 in the equitable growth.
process of starng a business in the Entrepreneurs in Pakistan face a
country, in which entrepreneurs complex and opaque regulatory - Creating a Place
needed about 19 days to complete environment. The State Bank of for the Future
ten procedural requirements with a Pakistan (SBP), the Securies & A 2010 report,
cost of 9.4% of income per capita. Exchange Commission of Pakistan prepared for the
According to the 2014 report, in (SECP), the Board of Investment Planning Commission
South Asia six out of eight (BOI), and the Compeon of Pakistan.
economies completed 11 reforms, Commission of Pakistan (CCP) are
simplifying the process of starng a among the main government
business, strengthening access to agencies that design and oversee
credit or easing the process of the commercial and nancial
paying taxes. Pakistan was not regulatory framework. In a 2014
among these six countries. interview with Zahid Jamil, a
leading lawyer in the country with
In a 2014 survey conducted by the rm Jamil & Jamil, he noted
Invest2Innovate of 119 rms in that complex regulatory policies
Pakistan, 48% felt they faced either ulmately breed criminal conduct
no or minor obstacles in aaining a and corrupon in the business

54 |
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

community, given that entrepreneurs will have to 20% of large-scale projects to allow businesses to
bend or break laws to keep their businesses compete and parcipate in this space.
running and achieve their aims. In eect, he added,
we are criminalizing good actors rather than While crics oen point to the complex regulatory
enabling them, and not doing enough to hold bad environment as a disabler of entrepreneurship and
actors accountable. This pertains to taxaon on innovaon in Pakistan, the soluons are actually
SMEs in the country, in which a startup could be not complex. According to the 2014 Doing Business
levied with high taxes despite being smaller than a report, If a city in Pakistan adopted all exisng
larger running and more established company. best pracces in the six areas covered by the
report, it would rank 69th out of 183
As a result, many young startups in Pakistan are economies16 places ahead of Pakistans posion
reluctant to ocially register their enes, and in Doing Business 2010. However, Pakistan has not
many companies in the country later fall into the iniated any new reforms since 2010, when the
habit of double books, in order to avoid paying government introduced an e-service registraon
higher taxes. In eect, and as noted before, good system, allowed an online registraon system for
actors engage in criminal behavior for pure sales tax, and removed requirement to make
business survival, versus for nefarious reasons, a declaraon of compliance on a stamped paper.
situaon that has ramicaons and increases risk in
the investment space. According to Jamil, reform of past policies would
not require legislaon or millions of dollars.
A 2010 report, Creang a Place for the Future, Instead, he noted, Every single thing is solvable by
prepared for the Planning Commission of Pakistan, simple administrave sign os. What is needed,
further echoed that this lack of a favorable enabling however, is the polical will to reform, and federal
environment in Pakistan mean many entrepreneurs push to have a long-term vision when it comes to
eventually direct their energies to rent-seeking long-term growth in the country. However, polical
rather than producve entrepreneurship that will is exactly what is lacking in the Pakistani
contribute to much-needed equitable growth. The environment. In a 2016 interview with i2i, Mubariz
report states, Business leaders have become Siddiqui, a Karachi-based startup lawyer and
condioned to an environment in which the entrepreneur-in-residence at The Nest i/o noted,
short-term gains from seeking advantage from the Unfortunately, it is just apathy - the people who
government are systemacally greater than are in power are not the ones who suer at the
longer-term gains from the idencaon and hands of the bureaucracy and red tape. The current
exploitaon of genuine economic opportunity As a system allows both lethargy and corrupon, which
result, rent-seeking behavior ulmately undermines works for the people in charge, so why change
a rms incenve to innovate. Nadeem Haque, the that? While the announcement by the federal
Former Deputy Chairman of the Planning government recently of the rst naonally backed
Commission (who commissioned the incubaon center (see Ecosystem Map) is
aforemenoned report), stated in an interview with encouraging, it sll does not address these broader
i2i in 2014 that current regulatory policies also concerns, though could provide a more direct line
favor the government over private players, to advocate and change policies in the future.
ulmately keeping business out.
Without policy direcves to reform such policies,
In an interview with i2i in 2014, Khurram Zafar, the we are le with an environment that is dicult for
Execuve Director of the LUMS Center for both entrepreneurs and investors to enter, navigate
Entrepreneurship, noted that the government at and succeed in the long-term.
the naonal and provincial level must not just .
support startups in Pakistan, but also businesses
that have grown in this environment. The
government, he suggested, can reduce
precondions for procurement and carve at least

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

FINANCE
The complex regulatory environment and lack of transparency not
only impedes entrepreneurship, it also acts as an obstacle for
commerce and investment. The current finance environment in
Pakistan is fraught with many bottlenecks and challenges.

As indicated in the ecosystem map investment, since there are no local In the survey
earlier in this report, there are only players operang in that
a small number of formal environment, and few internaonal
conducted by
instuonal funds in the country. players invest seriously in Pakistan. Invest2Innovate
While the increase in angel in 2014, 76% of
investment funds and eorts like Double Books & entrepreneurs
the Pakistan Private Investment
Expensive Due surveyed said
Iniave (PPII) are encouraging, the
decrease in venture capital funds in Diligence they used
the country results in an early-stage There is a chicken-egg problem in
personal funds to
capital gap, as well as potenal regard to Pakistans investor start their
pipeline issues for private equity environment. While many investors business, while
funds, since there is a boleneck in acknowledge the capital gap for
funding in the country.
37% said they
entrepreneurs, they also note the
signicantly higher risk that comes
received funding
Given this major early-stage capital with invesng in earlier-stage from family and
gap, the environment sll favors companies in Pakistan. Farrukh friends.
entrepreneurs with either the
personal means or strong networks
Khan, the former Pakistan Director Meanwhile, 84%
for Acumen, noted in 2014 that due
to investment, as was reported in of respondents
to the complex regulatory
i2is 2014 study. In the survey environment and lack of said it was either
conducted by Invest2Innovate in infrastructure, the cost of due difficult or
2014, 76% of entrepreneurs diligence is much higher with somewhat
surveyed said they used personal early-stage companies than
funds to start their business, while difficult to raise
later-stage rms. Investors require
37% said they received funding a certain level of governance and
investment for
from family and friends. transparency in businesses. startups.
Meanwhile, 84% of respondents According to investors, many
said it was either dicult or businesses are guilty of what is
somewhat dicult to raise known as double books, (as noted
investment for startups. While earlier) i.e., accounng books that
these percepons may have showcase numbers that look good
improved thanks to the increase in to investors and are benecial to
incubators and accelerators the companies from a tax
(providing investors more access to perspecve, versus records that
veed deals), entrepreneurs sll showcase real numbers. Ali Saigol,
run into the issue of raising a Founding Partner at Baltoro
post-seed, Series A or Series B

56 |
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

Capital, noted in an interview with i2i in 2016 that can and should follow these successful examples as
double books are a cultural reality that people well.
are quite open about in Pakistan. Smaller
companies usually have a wider discrepancy with
their double books, but larger companies have a In interviews with entrepreneur leaders, they
smaller dierence because they are more in the suggested the government should launch a VC Fund
spotlight and scrunized. to support startups in the country and help address
these bolenecks. Investment has a long-term
Given that the current regulatory environment horizon, and will therefore require a long-term
does not encourage entrepreneurs to have such vision that extends beyond polical regimes. While
structures in place that promote good governance this has never occurred before in Pakistan, the
and transparency, venture capital funds have to benets of such eorts will ulmately improve deal
engage in a lot more hand holding to ensure ow, show tangible success stories, and therefore
potenal investments are sound, transparent, and encourage more private funds to take on more risk
secure. Humza Khan, the Country Director for and invest earlier-stage. While the Pakistani
Insitor Pakistan, noted that due diligence also government has just announced plans for the
becomes increasingly more me-consuming thanks Naonal Incubaon Centre, which is a posive step,
to an overall lack of market research and data, a and the Punjab Informaon Technology Board
problem also noted by many investors i2i spoke to indicated their intenon to raise an early-stage
for this study. Given that data is quesonable at fund in 2015, a government-backed fund has not
best, investors have to spend more me yet materialized. As Yusuf Jan, a lead angel investor
conducng due diligence on the ground, and even with DotZero Ventures noted, Theres a lot of talk
in some cases collecng data themselves. This is about instuonal money, but its sll sing on the
expensive and me-consuming for rms, and oen sidelines. He went on to include nancial
means that funds like Insitor or Acumen only invest instuons in his observaons, nong, "Even if big
in one deal per year. banks and mutual funds devoted a fracon of their
budgets to this investment acvity, parcularly in
In our 2014 study, Khurram Zafar, who heads LCE, their domains, that could bring in the mulplier
encouraged Pakistans government to follow the eect in a big way."
successful models of United States and Israel to
resolve this catch-22 problem. In both of these Investor Regulations
successful entrepreneurship ecosystems,
government intervenon played a pivotal role in The overall risk environment for investors in
spurring investments into the SME businesses. In Pakistan is compounded by the regulatory
the case of the United States, the Small Business challenges around the ow of money in and out of
Investment Company (SBIC) program has been an the country. This has ramicaons for foreign
underwriter of investments into small businesses investors looking to invest in Pakistan all foreign
providing a safety net to investors who fund SME investors and shareholders have to aain approval
businesses. In the case of Israel, the Yozma fund from the Ministry of Interior prior to invesng and
launched by the government in the 1990s is largely must also apply for a Proceeds Realizaon
credited for turning the country into an investment Cercate (PRC) in order to remit funds from
magnet for investors. The program oered capital Pakistan (also see the i2i Investor Toolkit for more
matching incenves to foreign funds to come and on this topic). This also presents challenges for
invest in Israeli businesses and at the same me investors looking to set up funds to invest in
oered call opons to those funds to buyout Pakistan, though the environment improved
government share at a nominal interest rate basis if markedly with the Private Funds Regulaon 2015,
the investments were successful. All funds bought which was enacted by the Securies and Exchange
out the government share in less than 5 years. India Commission Pakistan (SECP) to allow funds to
has previously launched a $1.6 billion dollar fund register in Pakistan, thereby making it easier to
along the same lines, and, advised Zafar, Pakistan raise capital for investment funds from within the

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

country. While this new regulaon isnt perfect, it In the United States, in comparison, exits by
does note the dierence between private equity companies like Paypal, eBay, and AOL not only
funds from mutual funds, (mutual funds are privy encouraged future investment in early-stage
to more oversight), which was not previously done companies, it also enabled employees of those
before. rms (who beneted nancially from such exits) to
go on and launch their own companies like Tesla,
According to Saigol, the Regulaon is a step in the SpaceX (Elon Musk was a former Paypal employee),
right direcon, though his PE rm is working with and Parcipant Media (Je Skoll was an early
Abraaj Capital and JS Private Equity to improve the employee of eBay).
policy, mainly because of connuing issues like the
short expiraon date of Private Equity Investment Despite these challenges, most investors that i2i
Licenses, which are sll only valid for three years. interviewed for both the 2014 and 2016 studies are
Our fund has a ten year life, which means we have opmisc about the prospects for invesng in
to renew that license three or four mes, which is Pakistan. Consumer-facing industries as a whole are
not encouraging for people to start more funds. excing, with sectors like retail, e-commerce,
This is signicant since many investment companies healthcare, travel & logiscs, and nancial
should launch mulple funds in their lifeme, technology presenng aracve opportunies for
whether for dierent investment priories, or investors.
larger fund sizes.
Payments
Lack of Exits However, while internet-based or internet-enabled
Many investors also point to an overall lack of exits companies are excing for investors, the issue of
(either via mergers & acquisions or inial public payments connues to be one the largest
oerings) as a reason behind the small number of challenges facing these startups in Pakistan. Paypal
funds operang in Pakistan and corresponding low and other payment plaorms that can be leveraged
investment acvity. In the past few years, we have by internet-based companies do not currently exist
seen a number of small exits, like the acquision of in Pakistan, meaning that companies need to set up
ride-sharing startup Savaree by Uber competor such systems oshore. According to Faisal Khan,
Careem, and the acquision of EatOye by food who writes about and works frequently on this
deliver portal Food Panda, but there has yet to be a issue, Pakistans policies pose an obstacle for
juicy exit, noted Khurram Zafar in our 2016 players who even try to solve the payments
interview. We may be three years away from that, problem, namely because the State Bank of
he added. Pakistan has stated that any iniave that touches
money in any way be it a payment service
There is currently no local M&A (mergers & provider, payment processor, or an ATM switch
acquisions) market in Pakistan, meaning that are required to aain costly licenses that make it
SMEs are never or rarely acquired by larger impossible to run a business. If you are an
companies in the country, and we have yet to see a entrepreneur looking to operate in the payment
major foreign acquision take place (outside of the space in Pakistan, and you come under the
acquision of Pakistan-NYC rm MixIt, which was licensing umbrella by the State Bank, then you may
co-founded by Yusuf Jan, who is now a signicant end up folding because youve run out of money
angel investor and leader in Pakistans investment before youve even gone to market. The licensing
space). This phenomenon is signicant, but is also a issues, he emphasized, are like a 10,000 foot wall
funcon of a larger problem an opaque investor versus a regular hurdle.
environment, where data is not shared openly,
double books are the norm, and due diligence is According to Jamil, there is a need for the State
subsequently costly and me-consuming. The less Bank of Pakistan to reform provisions for online
that rms invest as a result, the less likely we are to payments and electronic money under the Payment
see the growth of local companies, and hence exits. Systems and Electronic Fund Transfer Act of 2007.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

However, Khan noted that reforming these


provisions would require the State Bank adming
the original law was wrong in the rst place
thereby running into the polical will and ego
problem noted earlier in this report. He
emphasized, One enty should not be able to hold
the enre industry hostage, period. The power to
reform the payments issue, therefore, lies with the
State Bank, and it is important to nd avenues to
advocate and create incenves for this enty to
reform the law, in order to remove the hurdles for
nancial technology entrepreneurs, and in eect,
address one of the deepest issues facing
technology-based companies in Pakistan.

Banks
In the last four years, banks in Pakistan have
adopted more risk-averse lending behaviors, partly
due to poor economic condions and growing
non-performing loans. While it is relavely easy to
lend to large corporates where the economies of
scale, published nancial informaon, collaterals
and creditworthiness parameters favor such types
of lending, small businesses cannot oer adequate
collateral and banks are unable to determine
whether the borrower possesses technical,
managerial and markeng skills that will allow
them to generate adequate cash ows and repay
the loan on me. As a result, it is dicult for SMEs
to receive loans from local banks to support their
business growth. Banks can improve access to
nance for SMEs by providing more customized and
dierenated nancial products and services to suit
dierent SME segments. There is also a need to
develop and implement appropriate credit
evaluaon techniques used globally, such as credit
scoring, cash ow-based lending and
program-based lending.
.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

SUPPORT
In the last few years, the increase of entrepreneur support
organizations incubators, coworking spaces, accelerators,
industry associations, competitions, and forums is encouraging,
particularly given the role that these organizations can play in
managing and diluting risk for investors in Pakistan.

These organizaons have increased improving their current strategy to In the survey
signicantly since i2is last report in support entrepreneurship, which it
2014, with more players on the is doing across the country, but
conducted by
ground, and preexisng where many centers lack the Invest2Innovate
organizaons with more success quality to truly fulll this mandate. in 2014, 88% of
stories and tracon. respondents felt
Universies can oer an important
that universities
However, while the acvity is environment for students to test,
excing, a lack of coordinaon iterate, and fail, and can provide could do more to
persists, as well as a need to both free space and mentorship to prepare students
monitor the quality of such events students, along with to launch their
and organizaons. entrepreneurial curriculum to own businesses.
Entrepreneurship and startups have support this growth. In the survey
become buzzwords in the country, conducted by Invest2Innovate in
but there needs to be an emphasis 2014, 88% of respondents felt that
on long-term strategy to aect universies could do more to
change. prepare students to launch their
own businesses. While some
Universities Pakistani universies are providing
space and compeons for
At the university incubator level, students, many are not providing
there is a broader need for high-quality curriculum to
coordinaon and sharing of best supplement this development and
pracces among private and public truly promote out of the box and
instuons. The LUMS Center for crical thinking. Curriculum at most
Entrepreneurship hosts an excing schools values rote memorizaon
incubator for startup entrepreneurs over crical thinking. Universies
across the country, not just for are not producing entrepreneurs,
LUMS students, and the NUST but instead are output-oriented,
Technology Incubaon Centre has posioning students for more
produced several interesng tradional jobs. Incubaon spaces
companies. These universies can and compeons therefore are not
support the growth of other similar treated as stepping-stones to
centers at Tier 3 or Tier 4 producing entrepreneurs
universies in the country, and post-university. It is rare to see
advise the Higher Educaon students who win university
Commission (HEC) on altering or

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

business plan compeons turn those ideas into decit between the Pakistani Diaspora and the
businesses; instead, many opt for oce jobs country, which is perpetuated by the distance and
post-graduaon. the negave percepons of Pakistan in the news
media. However, in the past two years, there has
Incubators and accelerators, beyond veng deals, been a greater eort and interest from the
supporng entrepreneurs, and connecng startups Diaspora, which has been helped by OPEN
to investment, can also support the growth of this launching local chapters in Islamabad, Lahore and
pipeline. Plan9 has previously advised local Karachi. The connecons between U.S.-based and
universies like NUST and FAST on their incubaon Pakistani chapters have further deepened these
programs, as have players like i2i, The Nest i/o, and es. Moreover, as the startup space as a whole
LCE. matures, and more local angel investors emerge,
members of the Pakistani Diaspora (parcularly
Industry Associations entrepreneurs) have become increasingly
interested in the ecosystem, though more can be
Industry associaons and organizaons like done to migate the perceived risks and challenges
P@SHA, OPEN and TiE play a strong role in creang of invesng from far away.
peer support networks of entrepreneurs, providing
mentorship to younger entrepreneurs, advising
policy reform, and thought leadership for the The Rise of Coworking Spaces
ecosystem as a whole. P@SHA has especially been The advent of coworking spaces in Pakistan was a
instrumental in Pakistans technology sector, and very new phenomenon when we last published this
has partnered with a number of organizaons and report in 2014, with DotZero, TechHub, and
corporaons to further the IT space in the country. Basecamp launching around then. At present, there
In their partnership with Google, P@SHA launched has been a steady increase in collecve oce
the P@SHA Fund for Social Innovaon to seed spaces, (notable iniaves include The Hive in
technology ideas with a social good angle, and now Islamabad and CoPakistan in Karachi) especially in
runs the highly reputed incubator, The Nest i/o. The response to the demands of a growing startup
associaon has also worked on a number of other community, which require oces where
iniaves, including the P@SHA ICT awards, which infrastructure and overhead costs like internet and
just held its 13th annual ceremony, as well as electricity are managed.
advocacy eorts to improve taxaon and other
legislaon for the IT industry. Prior to the launch of these new spaces in Pakistan,
entrepreneurs would either work from home or
Role of the Pakistani Diaspora even share oce space with other small
companies. Coworking spaces are a marked
Currently, the Pakistani Diaspora plays a strong role improvement because a third party carries the
in the country, and is the 7th largest Diaspora in the overhead risk, freeing entrepreneurs to focus just
world, sending home nearly $20 billion in 2015-16 on execung their businesses. Moreover, these
in remiances. Associaons like OPEN, TiE, and spaces also oer event spaces, and the rise in
compeons like the MIT Enterprise Forum startup acvity and events at these hubs lend to
Pakistan (via OPEN) are all posive eorts by the more spontaneous interacons and engagement in
Diaspora to engage the entrepreneurial ecosystem. the ecosystem.
These eorts, though notable, oen are more
about bringing Pakistani entrepreneurs to the Overall, the growth of support organizaons is
United States, providing mentorship support, or excing, but there is sll a need to improve the
highlighng eorts in the country, versus invesng overall quality of the space. For these
directly in startups. Remiance money is oen organizaons, parcularly incubators and
aached to sending money to family in the country accelerators, success will be conngent not just on
or to local charies and non-prots. In 2014, the i2i how many entrepreneurs survive and aain seed
Ecosystem report noted that there is sll a trust investment, but how many go on to scale their

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

businesses and raise follow-on nancing from


outside sources.

It is important for associaons, forums, and


organizaons to coordinate acvies in order to
strengthen the overarching pipeline for
entrepreneurship. While business compeons and
hackathons support inial ideaon of iniaves,
they must work in tandem with incubators and
accelerators to ensure that good ideas can aain
further support and mentorship to grow into
well-executed businesses. Incubators and
accelerators must in turn coordinate with each
other as well as with players both upstream and
downstream the entrepreneurial pipeline to not
only select high-potenal entrepreneurs and help
them aain seed capital, but also to ensure their
success later down the pipeline in achieving scale
and follow-on nancing.

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

HUMAN CAPITAL
Invest2Innovates 2014 interviews and research indicate that the
lack of developed human capital plays a major obstacle to
strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan.

Tradionally, aenon has been more focused on build and incorporate case studies that are
the policy framework, access to nance and capital, entrepreneurial in nature in their curriculum rather
and the development of business support services, than just those of big corporaons. For example, by
which has le human capital issues out of the highlighng growth of companies like Packages or
spotlight and has resulted in limited intervenon in Rozee.pk will not only provide students praccal
that area. knowledge, it will also give them local success
stories.
In the survey conducted by Invest2Innovate,
respondents listed a number of challenges in hiring In a follow-up interview with Bashir in 2016, he
and retaining good talent for their businesses, again emphasized, There is a serious dearth of
including a lack of availability of good talent in their people who have meaningful skills in design,
required eld (41%), an overall lack of values, engineering, technology, adversing and all such
ethics, and transparency within human capital modern disciplines. Middle management connues
(51%), and a lack of movaon among good talent to be virtually non-existent and companies suer
to work for startups in Pakistan (51%). greatly from leadership voids.

In 2014, i2i interviewed Fama Asad-Said, the Early-stage entrepreneurs oen operate on
Execuve Director of Abacus Consulng, who bootstrapped budgets and face the challenge of
emphasized that idencaon of the right talent nding and hiring good talent due to their inability
connues to be a challenge, and companies need to pay compeve wages. In countries with a more
to invest quite signicantly in talent, parcularly to robust entrepreneurship ecosystem like the United
improve communicaon skills. Benje Williams, the States, entrepreneurs can oer new hires equity in
co-founder of Amal Academy, a so-skills training exchange for lower salaries, thereby enabling them
instute in Pakistan, echoed the need for so skills to nd and hire strong talent. In Pakistan, there is
development, such as interpersonal skills, pitching, sll a lack of awareness and educaon surrounding
professionalism, persistence, and multasking. equity and its intended benets, which
unfortunately aect the human capital pipeline and
Universies should focus on grooming students for result in high turnover for early companies, with
the workforce and incorporang crical thinking employees oen leaving to join higher salaried
and so skills to beer ready them for jobs. Yasser posions at corporaons or internaonal
Bashir, CEO of Arbiso, a technology company companies.
based in Lahore, further noted in a 2014 interview
for this report that universies should do more to Entrepreneurs from Pakistans technology sector
train youth for launching their own businesses, also noted that the easily replicable nature of
rather than just aaining jobs post-graduaon. businesses with the IT sector has led to problems
Rather than be output-focused, universies can related to talent poaching and employees leaving
learn from their counterparts in the United States, to setup companies to compete with former
in which business or engineering students are also employees. These ethical issues foster distrust and
taking liberal arts courses and interdisciplinary a lack of transparency within the space.
approaches to their educaon. Schools should

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5
CONCLUSION
PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016

CONCLUSION
As Brad Feld emphasized in Startup Communities, Building a
startup community is not a zero-sum game where there are
winners and losers; if everyone engages, they and the entire
community can all be winners.

While a number of gaps and Bank of Pakistan also hold a lot of potenal scale of their
challenges connue to persist in inuence in this space, and must be work. Entrepreneur leaders
Pakistans entrepreneurial incenvized to change legislaon in the Pakistani Diaspora
framework, the increased amount and provisions that are holding can also connue to play a
of acvity since i2is last edion of businesses back. role in supporng this
this report in 2014 is not only growth, providing virtual
encouraging, its validang. While On the micro level, the number of mentorship, funding, and
there are challenges that very players will connue to increase, potenal investment.
much remain, experts interviewed but those stakeholders must also
for this 2016 report unanimously work together to coordinate eorts
noted how posive they were and strengthen the pipeline for
about the future of Pakistans young startups. The percepon
entrepreneurship ecosystem. issues that have plagued Pakistan
and deterred foreign investors have
In order to see success stories as a result fueled indigenous
emerge from Pakistan, which is networks and communies, led by
very much our aim at local entrepreneurs and industry
Invest2Innovate, it is important to leaders. Innovaon and
note the discrepancy between the entrepreneurship in Pakistan has
macro and micro environment. On increased despite all these issues at
the macro level, there is a need for the macro level, which is promising,
the government to address but these larger issues need to be
longstanding regulatory issues, as addressed if we want to see this
well as those related to grassroots-level acvity have
infrastructure like electricity, gas, long-lasng change.
and security. At the federal level,
the Pakistan government needs a The acvity speaks to the energy in
long-term and consistent vision for the country, and the local desire to
enacng change, especially given aect change through
that the results of such eorts may entrepreneurship. We need to tell
not be seen for a number of years, success stories and build case
and likely when a new party is in studies to further build
power. Federal agencies and entrepreneurial movaon among
instuons can play a signicant the countrys youth. We need to
role in dilung risk for investors, tell beer stories through data, that
invesng in nascent companies, can help migate risk for investors
and reducing barriers in access to and help entrepreneurs beer
nance. Agencies like the State understand the context and

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PAKISTAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM REPORT 2016