Impact of COVID-19 on Pakistani Startups & The Way Forward

To better understand the impact of this crisis on the Startup Ecosystem in Pakistan, and to equip the government and policymakers with insights to support businesses, the National Incubation Center has launched this report, ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Pakistani Startups and The Way Forward’.

The analysis presented in this report is based on data collected through survey from 86 Startups based in Pakistan, and focus group interviews conducted with 10 startups. Based on analysis of the collected data, this report shares key insights on how startups across various sectors have been impacted by the pandemic, and puts forward a set of recommendations for startups and various ecosystem players to collaborate and help sustain the nascent, yet evolving ecosystem during this challenging time.

SECP’s Regulatory Sandbox & Startup Focused Changes to Companies Law

As the Startup Ecosystem in Pakistan continues to evolve, a need for startups to be recognized and protected through a regulatory framework has been identified by the SECP. Startups, in this still nascent ecosystem, face many legal hurdles, ranging from company registration, to issues pertaining to stock options, to filing of returns, and many more. 

The SECP,realizing the need for startups to be recognized and protected through the regulatory regime, stepped forward and introduced amendments to the Company’s Act 2017, under the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, and for the first time, the definition of a Startup as a separate entity has been recognized and incorporated in the law. This and other major amendments were introduced by the SECP to provide an enabling regulatory framework to facilitate startups in Pakistan.

To discuss the changes implemented, and to create awareness on how the regulatory framework is facilitating startups to operate in Pakistan, the National Incubation Center invited Barrister Uzair Ahmed in its Leadership Talk Series, ‘SECP’s Regulatory Sandbox & Startup Focused Changes to Companies Law.’ Key questions addressed in the discussion, are presented in this report.

National Health Hackathon

The world is going through an unprecedented change. Healthcare challenges are affecting the way we act, interact and run our businesses. To take these challenges head-on, The National Incubation Center TeamUp and Jazz xlr8 in partnership with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (M/o NHSR&C), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),Rehman Medical Institute (RMI), Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America (Open),Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), National Incubation Center Karachi (NIC Karachi), TVOnePakistan and Association of Pakistani Physicians of Northern Europe (APPNE), organized a solution based all-online National Health Hackathon.

This Hackathon gave people the opportunity to collaborate and develop modern solutions tocontrol the spread of communicable diseases like COVID-19.The purpose of the Hackathon was to find preventive and curative solutions for communicable diseases

Investor Round Table Whitepaper

This whitepaper summarizes and makes recommendations based on the discussions that took place at the Investor Roundtable, held at the NIC on the 11th of October 2019. The objective of the Roundtable was to discuss the investment landscape for startups in Pakistan. Participants shared insights and explored possibilities for collaboration at various levels. The agenda of the roundtable revolved around discussions on the current challenges in the investment landscape, sharing international best practices, and proposing solutions for structuring the investment process in the country. The integral role of a supportive investment landscape in the country was discussed. The importance of bringing all Venture Capitalists (VCs), angel investors, government entities, and private organizations together, to boost the investment process and provide greater opportunities to startups was discussed. It was mutually agreed by all participants that extended support from various stakeholders was required to boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. This was the first initiative taken by the National Incubation Centre to bring all stakeholders on the table to discuss investment challenges and agree on a collective action plan.

Leadership Talks: The New Normal In E-Commerce

E-Commerce in Pakistan is at a nascent stage, with limited internet retail sales, despite 38 million Internet Mobile users in the country. Globally, E-Commerce accounts for 15% of total retail, while this number goes down to 0.35% in the case of Pakistan.

Nevertheless, recent data shows positive trends in the E-commerce space of Pakistan. Four sectors, namely Fashion and Beauty, Electronics and Physical Media, Food and Personal Care, Furniture and Appliances, have witnessed at least 100 percent growth in E-Commerce Sales. Additionally, the State Bank of Pakistan reports a 90 percent year-on-year growth in E-Commerce, indicating huge potential for this sector to flourish in the years to come.

Amid the COVID-19 Lockdown, E-Commerce accessibility has proved to be a haven for customers and is quite likely to grow, provided the right policies are put place. To discuss the opportunities and challenges being faced by the E-Commerce Industry in Pakistan, the National Incubation Center hosted a webinar with some of the leading players in the E-Commerce space in Pakistan. Badar Khushnood – Co-Founder, Ehsan Saya -Managing Director Daraz, Muneeb Maayr – Founder Bykea, Nadiya Patel Gangjee -Founder Sheops and Femprow, and Ahmed Khan – Founder Cheetay Logistics, provided key insights into the dynamics of the industry.