2018 has been a monumental year for the Pakistani entrepreneurial ecosystem. While the country has yet to produce a truly local unicorn, Pakistan has been powering the operations of three global unicorns, KeepTruckin, Afiniti and Careem. There have been major disruptions in the e-commerce and logistics sector as well with Daraz being acquired by Alibaba, SastaTicket raising Series A funding from Gobi Partners, and Bykea raising Pakistan’s largest Series A funding.
Pakistan has been gaining traction as one of the emerging economies to currently invest in the Asian region. Local stakeholders have been collaborating with international partners launching country-focused venture capital fund such as Saramayacar, i2i Ventures and SparkLabs Pakistan while indigenous funds like Inaara Impact Ventures and Lakson Capital are also finding their foothold.
The current trajectory of the ecosystem growth presents a unique opportunity to engage Pakistani diaspora. As former Vice President Growth at LinkedIn and Board Director at Atoms, Aatif Awan points out in a LinkedIn post,
“The Careem acquisition, in particular, has galvanized the Pakistani startups as well as the diaspora. Many Pakistanis in the US are now considering investing in or advising startups and some have gone back already to start one themselves.”
Awan has launched a survey to connect diaspora with Pakistani startups to generate insights to explore engagement opportunities that can be built through a series of events and a startup guide for the diaspora. The survey has recorded up to 300 responses indicating interesting insights.
Majority of the interested Pakistanis are concentrated in the United States, significantly in the Bay Area, Seattle, New York and other cities. Other respondents hail from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Middle East and Germany.
The diaspora is interested to engage with founders and startups building products for diverse verticals. The responses indicate the top verticals of interest for the diaspora to be Artificial Intelligence, e-Commerce, B2B platforms and services. Respondents have also shown their enthusiasm towards Civic Tech and Government Tech startups.
The diaspora wants to explore the ecosystem with an engagement modality ranging from advising and investing in Pakistani startups and identifying an opportunity to kickstart their own venture. Some of the survey respondents have indicated their curiosity to learn more about the ecosystem.
More than 50 percent of the diaspora is planning to visit Pakistan more frequently and others are considering moving back or have already moved back to the country.
The insights shared with TechJuice indicate that expats want to help local entrepreneurs across different challenges such as:
- Effective hiring practices
- Targeting local and global markets
- Managing remote teams
- Aggregating knowledge
- Raising investment
With this survey and follow-up events, the diaspora wants to understand the business environment in Pakistan and how local startups are faring. Few of the diaspora have found the Pakistani tech scene to be all talks and limited action. However, with this activity, they are hopeful to engage with result-oriented startups and stakeholders to foster knowledge exchange between Silicon Valley and Pakistan.
The diaspora believes that if the activity results in tangible outputs comprising on networks and venture capital with a strong follow-up plan, it has the potential to help local startups learn from Pakistani entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley and beyond.
Pakistani diaspora who wants to be a part of this activity can take this survey.
Meanwhile, startups looking for mentorship, investments, and potential partners can take this survey.