The local startup ecosystem in Pakistan is quickly gaining momentum. Abundant talent and a large market, growing interest from the government and private sector, increasing appetite of investors, and an improving regulatory climate paint a promising picture for Pakistan’s emergence as a strong South Asian startup market.
The startup ecosystem in Pakistan is witnessing increasing interest from investors, who are looking to invest in promising startups. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies across industries around the world, and investors are keen to invest in startups that are leveraging technology to deliver solutions for the new normal. This is witnessed by increased investments in the E-Commerce, Health-tech, and Ed-tech spaces.
41% of the total deals done in Pakistan’s H1 2020 are attributed to E-Commerce, while 24% to Healthcare. Another interesting trend for 2020 is a shift in investment dynamics, with investors showing interest in B2B startups - recent rounds raised by Dastgyr, Bazaar and Taajir are indicative of high growth potential of these segments. Overall, between January and June 2020, Pakistan saw $10M invested in 17 venture deals – this momentum has continued with several large deals, like Airlift’s $22M, taking place in H2 2020. Around 29 venture capital (VC) firms invested in Pakistan in 2020, with 76% of those being international investors.
Despite promising trends, Pakistan still has a long way to go before it can call itself a mature startup market. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) 2019, Pakistan stands at 109 out of 137 countries. While this is an improvement from the 2018 figure, where Pakistan stood at 122, yet it lags significantly from comparable economies– the UAE ranks 25th, with India at 78, and Nigeria at 92.
In order to overcome the barriers to the ecosystem reaching maturity, it is imperative for various stakeholders to step up and take the lead on resolving challenges that act as impediment to the growth of the startup space. The National Incubation Center, since its inception, has been playing a pivotal role to build the startup ecosystem in the country. The first NIC to be established in the country, the innovation center-point has incubated 187 startups in 8 cohorts from the local and international market. Its unique offerings include a vast investor community with over 60 active investors across regions, mentorship & market linkages, insights on growth hacking and performance marketing from industry experts and serial entrepreneurs, a vibrant and growing startup community-the NICSC (NIC’s Startup Community), and opportunity to learn from Unicorn founders across Pakistan and abroad. The NIC operates through a hybrid incubation program, offered virtually and on-premises, and is designed to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses, from idea to execution.
The National Incubation Center has recently opened applications for its 9th cohort of startups. This will be a 6-month Fast-Track Incubation Program, where innovative startups will get the opportunity to SCALE Up their startup and gain traction through an accelerated incubation program. We invite all startup founders, aspiring to build capacity and scale up quickly, to apply for the fast-track incubation program. The program is open for all Pakistani nationals, living in Pakistan or overseas. If you are a founder, aiming to leapfrog towards change and create meaningful impact, the NIC Fast Track Incubation is the right platform for you. For more details, visit Cohort 9 page, and apply away.
The last date for submitting your application is 21st October 2020.