Pakistan is in the midst of a massive boom in its tech startup sector. According to industry research, Pakistan-based companies raised c. $250M in the first half of 2022, surging by 135% from the $117M raised over the same period in 2021. Typical of a nascent ecosystem, the majority of funding went towards ecommerce companies, although there has been a recent spread to include companies in Fintech, Healthtech, and Agritech.
As the ecosystem matures, and as we expand our relations with Pakistan-based founders and partners, we wanted to revisit our thinking on the micro and macro environment, as well as shed some additional perspective on the market today and what the future might hold. Our thinking is centered around recognizing that the opportunities are plentiful however are entangled by unpredictability.
Despite that, global capital has made its way to Pakistan as funds have taken note of the caliber of the founders and the opportunity to capture existing value within the market. The rising challenge has been this over-reliance on global capital, and the continued, although to a lessening degree, hesitance from local capital to participate in riskier investments. As global markets experience a capital crunch, this reliance will undoubtedly prove challenging.
The popular narrative within the ecosystem, though, is that the micro and macro indicators are encouraging. The country has a young median age, there is an active drive toward industry regulation, and the sheer size of the population all point towards the same positive direction. This is also strengthened by the proximity, both geographically and economically, that the market has with other MENA countries - providing some indication of potential future growth markets .
Although the number of startups continues to increase, we question the sustainability of the ecosystem and the business models addressing the real existing opportunities in Pakistan. We are excited to back the ones that target challenges across the value chain, that capture existing value by capitalizing on real opportunities, and are able to quickly adapt their businesses in a market riddled by unpredictability.
This short country synopsis was put together by participants of the Nuwa VC-in-Training program; Hamza Agha and Selim Roushdy, along with feedback from Nuwa’s network within Pakistan, including from Ali Oosman and Abrar Ul Haq.