TL;DR – Pakistan has so much potential for startup growth, and in the last 5 years, they have been doing more than ever.
State has a huge role to play in developing local entrepreneurship scene over last five years. Pakistan which is a home to more than 180 million people has 60% of its population consisting on young individuals. Due to the risk-averse attitude of Pakistanis, entrepreneurship was not much of a career option for youngsters. According to the statistics of 2013, 8.5% of young population is unemployed because of lack of jobs (Pakistan Economics Survey, 2014-2015). Taking this into account the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) took action and introduced “Plan 9”.
Plan 9 is the provincial government run technology incubator, which hosts more than 80 start-ups. As this project is backed up by government, so it is perceived as credible among general population. Since then, entrepreneurship and innovation are the buzzwords that have inspired hundreds of young Pakistanis.
In last 5 years alone there have been numerous home grown Pakistani start-ups gaining global attention. Here are some of the success stories:
a) Zameen: This is the Pakistan’s leading and most valuable online portal for real estate dealers, agencies, buyers and sellers. It was launched in 2006, Lahore Punjab. In 2016, zameen was declared among the top 5 property portals in the world (Property Portal Watch- PPW).
b) Beauty Hooked: It is an online service, which allows users to find and book beauty salons in nearby area. It also offers discount and bonus to users.
c) Slide: This is the excellent example of affiliate marketing in Pakistan. Slide is an android app that pays its users for reading content and clicking on the ads. Slide claimed to experience 5 million downloads in a year.
d) Home Foodies: This is another example of home grown start-up. It is a platform which enables and facilitates users, specifically housewives, to set up their own small business of homemade food.
In the past five years, start up system of Pakistan has grown from the emerging phase to a self sustaining period. Lahore is the major hotspot for start-ups, with over 140 start-ups in the city of five million people. In 2014, a start up e-commerce company “Markhor” becomes the Pakistan most successful kickstarter campaign and even catches the attention of GOOD Magazine. Markhor works with local peasants to produce high quality men’s leather shoes.
In recent times, entrepreneurship in Pakistan has become more localised. Patari, the Pakistani music streaming service, was placed second at the World Startup Cup 2016. Patari was launched in 2015, and now is the largest music streaming service in Pakistan.
Punjab information technology board (PITB), announced “Plan X” which is the acceleration to start-up programs. Volatile political situations and security climate have historically made outsider to think twice about investing in Pakistan, but initiatives taken by the Punjab government to promote entrepreneurship by technology incubation, is strengthening the young population to utilize their full capacity to solve local issues.