Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pakistan Third Most Popular Among Online Outsource Countries

Pakistan ranks number 3, after US (#1) and India (#2), in terms of freelancers doing outsourced IT work on contract. Bangladesh ranks fourth, according to data from four biggest online outsourcing sites:,,, and

The data also shows that US, Australia and the UK as the top hiring countries. All four websites work in a similar way: First, companies post job requirements on these sites. Next, freelancers or IT-companies offer their bids with skills and cost for the project listed on the website. Finally, the company chooses the best bid meeting its job requirements.

Recently,, one of the top four online marketplaces, said there are 240,000 freelance Pakistanis registered as providers on its website.

With more than 30 million internet subscribers, five million plus broadband users and a population nearing 200 million, according to Freelancer executive Adam Byrnes, it makes sense to have a presence in Pakistan.
“Going forward, we want to provide self-employment for a billion people, a significant portion of that is going to come from Pakistan,” he told Express Tribune.

In addition to having a large population, Pakistan has seen its human capital grow significantly over the last decade.  With nearly 16% of its population in 25-34 years age group having college degrees, Pakistan is well ahead of India and Indonesia, according to Global Education Digest 2009 published by UNESCO Institute of Statistics. UNESCO data also shows that Pakistan's lead is growing with younger age groups.

Faster economic growth requires BOTH skilled manpower and investment of dollars as Pakistanis saw during Musharraf years. Regardless, the growth of human capital is a good thing to build a foundation for Pakistan's future. It'll contribute to economic growth when the security situation improves and FDI returns to Pakistan. The country's large diaspora too will be helpful in accelerating Pakistan's growth and development with money and skills. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Pakistan Among Top Outsourcing Destinations

Pakistan's IT Industry

Pakistan's Software Prodigy

Biotech and Genomics in Pakistan

India & Pakistan Comparison Update 2011

India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2010
Eating Grass-The Making of Pakistani Bomb
Educational Attainment Dataset By Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee

Quality of Higher Education in India and Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Pakistan's Story After 64 Years of Independence

Pakistan Ahead of India on Key Human Development Indices


HopeWins Junior said...

Can you provide some actual numbers? For example, how much did Pakistani Freelancers earn LAST YEAR from all the portals?

Here you can see the data for given in TOTAL LIFETIME earnings (i.e. since the portal started operating in 1999 or over `13 years):

It says US freelancers earned 170 Mil$ over 13 years. Indian freelancers earned 168 Mil$ over 13 years. Pakistani freelancers earned 40 Mil$ over 13 years.

It is like an average ANNUALIZED earnings of 13 Million$ for India and 3 Million$ for us. This is POCKET change.

This is not News. This is a Yawn.

What are your views?

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "This is not News. This is a Yawn."

Yes, it's a yawn to someone who doesn't understand how businesses grow.

It takes a basic critical mass of enabling technologies, processes and participants before such tech-based businesses achieve explosive growth.

In this case, Internet access, especially broadband, is a relatively new phenomenon in Pakistan. I expect to see online freelance markets' accelerated growth with increasing broadband access in Pakistan.

In addition to the Elance (founded in 1999) figures of $170 million total and $40 million to Pakistanis, Express Tribune says Freelancers (founded in 2004) has paid $150 million to its freelancers, including $13 to Pakistanis, according to Express Tribune.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an earlier post I did back in 2009 on this phenomenon:

Menlo Park, California based oDesk has ranked the Philippines and Pakistan as the top two outsourcing destinations in terms of growth, value for money and customer feedback.

oDesk helps its clients with tools, technologies and services to hire and manage remote work teams. Other companies in its category, including Elance, Guru and RentACoder, create marketplaces in which employers and freelancers can contact one another. These sites often manage the payments, and make money by charging membership fees and/or take a cut of the payment. The cuts can range from 4 percent to 15 percent.

According to oDesk, Pakistan experienced 328% growth in its outsourcing business in 2007-8, second only to the Philippines (789%) on a list of seven top locations that include US (260%), Canada (121%), India (113%), the Ukraine (77%) and Russia (43%).

Pakistan ranks number one in value for money for developers and data entry and number two overall behind the Philippines where the cost of answering calls is about half of the cost in Pakistan. Pakistan is well ahead of India and just behind the number 1 ranked United States in customer satisfaction.

The growth of outsourcing within the US and Canada as well as the high customer satisfaction data for North America are particularly noteworthy. It seems to indicate that more and more North American companies are showing preference for outsourcing close to home. New technology appears to be helping close the cost gap between North America and the rest of the top seven outsourcing destinations.

In addition to oDesk's view of Pakistan as a preferred outsourcing destination, Gartner, in its 2008 report ‘Analysis of Pakistan as an Offshore Service Location’ said the major factor behind upgrading Pakistan to first tier status for outsourcing is the lower salaries and better infrastructure advantages than other offshore destinations. “The salaries of IT professionals in Pakistan are approximately 30% lower than those in India, while telecommunication costs are also lower as compared to any other offshore locations, which make Pakistan an attractive outsourcing destination.”

oDesk says that "the results … the Philippines and Pakistan rank the highest in this admittedly simplistic analysis, which must be taken with a grain of salt." It adds, "There are many factors to be taken into consideration when hiring contractors to your workteams. But, in the meantime, congratulations to providers in these two countries for topping the list! Fans of outsourcing to the Philippines and Pakistan will also be glad to know that they were also the fastest growing countries on oDesk, by hours worked, from 2007-2008."

Anonymous said...

yeah but only in couple of fields :(
while we living in uk and studying marketing from top uni's we dont get any jobs ...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "yeah but only in couple of fields :(
while we living in uk and studying marketing from top uni's we dont get any jobs ... "

Freelancing is the's called self-employment. But you have to have the skills the world needs and is willing to pay for.

Anonymous said...

the reason behind freelancing is to get cheap labor, I tried to bid on few projects on and I was out bid by 1000s, most probably by someone form India/PAk/DB. You living in UK wont do a .net project for 500 yet the same project will be taken by someone for $200

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "the reason behind freelancing is to get cheap labor..."

This is called cost arbitrage. That's the reason why many of these jobs go to low cost countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh where people can enjoy good standards of living with lower wages.

This is called cost arbitrage. That's the reason why many of these jobs go to low cost countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh where people can enjoy good standards of living with lower wages.

data shows average rates of $28 an hour in US, $15 an hour in India, $13 an hour in Pakistan and $8 an hour in Bangladesh.

Elance data shows average rates of $28 an hour in US, $15 an hour in India, $13 an hour in Pakistan and $8 an hour in Bangladesh.

For someone doing it full time at 40 hours a week, this translates into $56,000 a year in US, $30,000 a year in India, $26,000 a year in Pakistan and $16,000 a year in Bangladesh.

Anonymous said...

by looking at average country payout you will get better sense of each country contribution including Pakistan. It will give you better idea of what level of value chain your country is placed. If you look at United states it has twice the number of registered freelancers compared to India but both the countries income is almost same. I hope you are smart enough to draw the conclusion from it.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "If you look at United states it has twice the number of registered freelancers compared to India but both the countries income is almost same. I hope you are smart enough to draw the conclusion from it."

The number of registered users has no meaning by itself other than to indicate that there are more browsers (not necessarily bidders) in the market place in one country versus another.

The fact is that these same browsers show up in multiple market places to choose what they like to bid on. More browsers bidding on fewer jobs in a given country means they are more picky.

The other important indicator is that the per hour rates in US are twice the rates in India while the number of US registered users is twice that in India....again showing that US contractors are more selective.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on academia promoting entrepreneurship among students:

LAHORE: Government College University Lahore’s Economics Department, in collaboration with Entrepreneurial Development and Advisory Services (EDAS), Pakistan, organised a one-day seminar, on the “Role of educational institutions in entrepreneurship ecosystems”.

The seminar was attended by academia, entrepreneurs, public sector representatives and students. Speakers included renowned academics, notable business personalities and organic entrepreneurs of Pakistan. SPEL Group CEO Almas Hyder, a founding member of EDAS, introduced the topic of the seminar and spoke succinctly about the need to bridge the gap between industry and academia to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in Pakistan. He stressed the role of government as a facilitator of knowledge-based interaction between the university and business so that research and ideas could flow seamlessly and become economic value by means of the market. He highlighted the role EDAS had played in collaboration with GC University’s Economics Department in the introduction of the Master’s programme in Entrepreneurship and SME Management. The purpose of the course of study, he shared with the audience, was to inculcate entrepreneurial spirit in students and underscore the role played by SMEs in fostering innovation in Pakistan. Fifteen percent course graduates went on to become entrepreneurs, he said, and the goal was to turn ten percent of Ravians into entrepreneurs every year.

Amer Hashmi, himself a successful entrepreneur with global experience in business creation and management and currently the Adviser to Rector National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) and President, NUST Global Think Tank Network (GTTN), delivered the keynote address. His address presented a comprehensive kaleidoscope of various successful initiatives taken by NUST to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in Pakistan. NUST’s Corporate Advisory Council (CAC), he informed the audience, was the key body in the university for consolidating the triple helix interaction and collaboration between university, business and academia.

CAC had played a key part in bridging different NUST schools with relevant industries through a unique organisational structure that ensured two-way flow of feedback and information between NUST and industry centred on industry-commissioned R&D at NUST. CAC partners included top domestic and international business and corporate entities like Indus Motors, Millat Group, Huawei Technologies, Oracle, Microsoft, Allied Bank, Interactive Group, etc.

Hashmi explained GTTN was a key initiative of NUST aimed at establishing policy research and knowledge partnerships with renowned academic and non-academic think tanks in China, US, Russia, Asia-Pacific and Middle East. The first of the planned series of think tank collaborations with Tsinghua University, Beijing, had been successfully functioning since early 2012. The vision of GTTN was to create a pool of viable policy options in critical sectors of national socio-economic development which were also regionally and globally applicable with the potential to create peace, prosperity and harmony in the region.

NUST Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) was actively helping commercialise technology produced from university research and had established an advanced business incubation centre that housed companies involved in cutting edge technology business market globally. NUST had recently completed the pre-feasibility for its National Science and Technology Park (NSTP), the first proper university-hosted science park in Pakistan ...\03\13\story_13-3-2013_pg13_6

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Financial Post story on $100m deal for satellite Internet access in Pakistan:

With the launch of the first four satellites in [external] O3b Networks’ satellite fleet only 78 days away, O3b announced today a strategic agreement with Pakistan’s largest ICT company Interactive Esolutions. Using multiple O3b beams to provide coverage of the entire country, Interactive will be providing a full suite of services in Pakistan, including trunking services to underserved regions, cellular backhaul for mobile operators and enterprise and e-government services across the country.

O3b Networks will deliver fiber-like speed at sub 150 millisecond latency and affordable prices, opening the door to new applications and growth opportunities for customers in Pakistan.

Mr. Shahid Mahmud, Chairman/CEO Interactive Group said, “We are extremely excited about this agreement as we strongly believe that the Pakistani market offers immense appetite for bandwidth and data. Our customer base varies from Telecom operators to large and small enterprise across the country. We anticipate great demand in the Oil & Gas sector, Health, Education, Shipping and Government sectors. We are happy that Interactive will be contributing to the growth of broadband through this state of the art technology. We firmly believe that together we will usher in a new era of Internet usage proliferating the positive effects of connectivity amongst the people of Pakistan.”

“We are honored to support Interactive Group in continuing their history of technical innovation and service to Pakistan,” said Steve Collar, CEO of O3b Networks. “Pakistan, with its burgeoning population and growing economy is in desperate need for state of the art communications infrastructure. By overcoming the geographical hurdles presented by mountainous terrain, working together with Interactive we can ensure that broadband connectivity is available across the entire country.”

O3b’s unique eight satellite, Medium-Earth-Orbit fleet enables affordable, high-speed connectivity in places where traditional satellite and fiber offerings are unavailable or extremely costly.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on IT contractors in Pakistan:

..From business process outsourcing to developing smartphone apps, Pakistani IT professionals are seem to be going after every opportunity, especially in the online job market, to bring home valuable foreign exchange.

In high demand, Pakistani IT professionals are growing significantly on oDesk, a Silicon valley-based online marketplace, in terms of both revenues and subscriptions to the platform.

“Pakistan is one of our largest contractor bases, and it is growing steadily,” CEO Gary Swart said in reply to queries through email. Contractors in Pakistan earned almost $1.5 million on oDesk in January 2012 alone, he said. “That figure is more than double the $700,000 they earned in January 2011, which is really an impressive growth!”

In January 2012, Swart said, more than 4,500 contractors from Pakistan signed up for oDesk, which enables businesses to hire, manage and pay a flexible online workforce, representing significant growth over previous months.

The top five categories of oDesk that work in Pakistan, according to the CEO, are web programming, web design, search engine optimisation, software development and mobile apps.

“In these five categories alone, contractors from Pakistan earned $796,000 in January 2012.” The number of Pakistani professionals that sign up for oDesk is growing steadily at a rate of 11% month over month, he added.

As seen from the top five job categories for Pakistani contractors, Swart said, there is certainly a large demand for their IT skills on the oDesk marketplace – which was the seventh fastest-growing company of Silicon Valley in 2011, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

oDesk, according to Swart, is world’s largest online marketplace – as measured by dollars earned by contractors each month – and has 1.6 million registered contractors where 120,000 new jobs are posted each month. Contractors earned more than $225 million on oDesk last year, he said.

IT services are definitely a sweet spot for the oDesk marketplace in general, Swart said. The top two job categories on oDesk overall – web development and software development – together make up more than half of the total earnings on the platform, and demand for IT skills continues to grow rapidly.

Pakistan’s IT industry, according to Pakistan Software Export Board, has seen steady growth over the last few years despite sluggish economic growth – thanks to the online job market.

IT and IT-enabled services exports stood between $560 million and $860 million last year, according to former managing director of PSEB Imran Zia. On a Y-o-Y basis, the IT sector has been growing at 15% to 20% for the last three years and the growth in 2011 was about 15%. The future outlook for Pakistani IT professionals looks promising as IT jobs are in high demand on oDesk, where subscription rate of Pakistani contractors is growing steadily.

“IT jobs are our most in-demand category – which means we have significantly more IT opportunities for contractors from all countries, Pakistan included,” Swart said. “So we believe that we have more Pakistani IT professionals than any other online work marketplace,” he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a post on Pak Internet-based business potential:

Early Days

Building Internet businesses has traditionally not come easily to Pakistan. Our first e-commerce venture began in 2001 with the establishment of Abid Beli's Although initially started as an information website for mobiles and computers, it soon turned into an e-commerce store as a result of its growing popularity.

You might then expect this venture to have turned out a success story, with Beliscity ending up being the equivalent to Amazon in Pakistan. Unfortunately this was not the case. Owing to many complications and troubles, not only was Beliscity forced to changed its name to Gulf Dealz, but it also fell into obscurity competing with countless other players in the online retail arena.

SEE ALSO: Meet Plan9, Pakistan’s First Technology Startup Incubator

Arguably Pakistan’s greatest Internet success story is Founded in 2007 by Monis Rahman as an add-on to his main business, Rozee has grown to become Pakistan’s premier portal for jobs. This journey was also not an easy one at all. When Monis was trying to raise funds through foreign investors in the second half of 2007, Pakistan was in the news almost daily with images of the bombing due to Benazir Bhutto’s arrival and her subsequent assassination.
3 Hot E-Commerce Startups to Watch in Pakistan

Those, however, were just the early days and the environment seems much more conducive to starting e-commerce ventures now. Last year will go on record as a landmark year for Internet businesses in Pakistan as three very different and important companies launched their own e-commerce portals:

TCS Connect is the online portal of TCS Couriers, Pakistan’s most reliable and wide-reaching logistics company. In May 2012, TCS launched its online shopping portal, TCS Connect, which has products like computers, mobile phones, home and kitchen appliances and even automobile accessories.

Labels eStore is the online store for Pakistan’s largest high-end fashion outlets. With its product lines covering the biggest fashion designers in Pakistan, it targets high-end consumers in the local market and the Pakistani diaspora across the world. represents the fashion vertical of the global venture developers, Rocket Internet. The company did not enter into our local online market arena at the behest of Pakistani entrepreneurs who sought funding, but rather as a ‘top-down’ decision by Oliver Samwer to capture the developing Pakistani market in the long-term.

The establishment and subsequent success of these and other businesses have led to a greater focus on e-commerce sites. They may be other clothing brands expanding their businesses online, logistics companies either starting online stores themselves or providing tools and consultancy for brick-and-mortar retail owners to start a digital side to their existing businesses, or young entrepreneurs themselves wanting to get into this nascent business.

Whatever the case, online stores are here to stay in Pakistan and will only attain a ...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on web start-ups in Pakistan:

The answer: remittances. Pakistan receives $13-14 billion annually from external sources. Compare that to the total it collects in taxes, which is around $10 billion. You can see for yourself what accounts for more in the economy.
Payments from abroad usually take two channels: they either come from Pakistanis working overseas, or they come through our relatively small, yet gigantic-in-effect, web start-up industry. This industry comprises businesses and freelancers that globally outsource their services, and includes names such as Sofizar Constellations, Naseeb Networks (, TradeKey and others. Sofizar alone makes around $15 million per year, and is the second biggest business-to-business sales portal in the world, following One of the world’s best online affiliate marketer, Faisalabad’s Pasban IT Group, is doing so well, it owns the only Lamborghini Aventador and Ferrari F430 in Pakistan.
How are these companies doing so well, and how big are these Pakistani startups on the international scene? If the ownership of one of the world’s most expensive cars doesn’t sound impressive enough, let me take you back a few years. Back in the day, when was alive, one of the world’s greatest Digg-ers, Waseem, was from Pakistan. He, along with a group of fellow marketers, was hitting the front page of on a daily basis, which meant looping in hundreds of thousands of visitors in no time. That is equal to popping your article on’s front page these days. One of the clients of these champion Digg-ers was the Chicago Tribune. You can figure the rest yourself.
This is how the online marketing industry works. Most of what goes viral online is not what people naturally promote and share, but a result of gaming that system to perfection and with skill. This is what good internet marketers do: you can only judge on the basis of what content channel it comes to you from. What if I told you that T-Series, one of India’s biggest music record labels, has a prime internet marketing affiliate based in Karachi? They are just a bunch of boys who do it underground! The bidders for tenders for this job span the entire Earth. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, then, that a company based in Karachi makes apps for the National Aerospace and Space administration (that’s NASA, mind you), for the space giant’s mobile platform.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about Effective Measures eyeing Pakistan market:

KARACHI, PAKISTAN: Effective Measure, a rapidly expanding leader in digital audience profiling and measurement in emerging markets, has marked its official entry into the booming online media market of Pakistan.
Founded in Australia and operational in some of the world's most dynamic digital growth markets, Effective Measure has made a further commitment to assisting in the development of the Pakistan online media industry.

Effective Measure has been on the ground in the Pakistan market for over a year and has now formalised its presence following a series of key client wins and the coveted official industry endorsement by the Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS) to facilitate digital audience measurement for the Pakistan digital media industry.

Effective Measure marked its official entry to the Pakistan market by supporting the PAS Awards on the 26th of April and hosting a series of high level briefings with key clients over the last week with visiting Effective Measure CEO Richard Webb and Effective Measure Regional Managing Director MEA, Brendon Ogilvy.

"The vibrant, emerging Pakistan market represents a great opportunity for Effective Measure to help transform a nascent digital media industry into a booming digital economy. We are delighted with the support and collaboration that we have experienced with local media and industry over the last year as we solidified our position in the market. The year ahead will be an extremely exciting time to be part of the local digital market and we will endeavour to share our international expertise to assist in expediting that growth potential and providing world class metrics and data that serve this diverse audience," Webb.

The Effective Measure solution benefits advertisers and media owners by offering superior access to audience reach and demographic data.

And heading up the Pakistan expansion is...

Leading Effective Measure's expansion in Pakistan is Effective Measure Country Manager-Pakistan, Imtiaz N. Mohammad, who has been developing market alliances and relationships over the last year. He joined the Effective Measure team with a rich background in both entrepreneurial digital projects, with technology consultancy Inspire-X and Crosby Asset Management and fixed and mobile content expertise with companies including SmartPhonz Wireless.

"As the Pakistan media market embraces digital it also faces regulatory, technology centric and economic challenges. Effective Measure's global experiences at the grass roots of emerging markets can help ease those challenges and turn them into electric opportunities. The potential in the Pakistan digital media market is huge and armed with the right tools we will assist in fostering the collective goal of turning Pakistan into a knowledge based economy," said Mohammad.

Under the PAS alliance Effective Measure has been working in collaboration with PAS to establish a market leading digital audience measurement service for the Pakistan industry. The breakthrough recognition of the Effective Measure platform, which was announced in March, has given Pakistan's advertising, publishing and digital media sectors a new level playing field to accurately assess measure and develop their valuable digital assets.

"The MEA region continues to exceed expectations across the digital media industry. The diversity of content and enthusiasm for digital engagement across all technology platforms is forcing advertising agencies and publishers to lift their game on all fronts. Insight, audience depth and accountability are no longer luxuries but mandatory tools of the trade and Effective Measure relishes bringing these opportunities for world-class digital development to the Pakistan market," said Effective Measure Regional Managing Director MEA, Brendon Ogilvy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Karachi Hackathon:

Sabeen Mahmud has short-cropped hair and rectangular glasses; she’d fit right in hunched over a laptop at Philz or behind the counter at one of Apple’s Genius Bars. Her resume matches her style. She’s founded a small tech company, opened a hip coffee shop and organized a successful hackathon. But Mahmud doesn’t hail from the Bay – she lives in Karachi, a city more closely associated with extreme violence then entrepreneurs.

“Fear is just a line in your head,” Mahmud says. “You can choose what side of that line you want to be on.”

Mahmud represents something new in this ancient city. Mahmud “fell in passionately in love” with the first Mac she saw, teaching herself MacPaint and MacDraw in college in 1992, and devoting countless hours to Tetris. In 2006, Mahmud decided Karachi was sorely missing a space where people could gather around shared interests, an interdisciplinary space for collaboration and brainstorming. Despite the fact that in Pakistan, many women are not allowed to finish primary school, much less graduate from college and start their own company, she decided to start The Second Floor café, not letting the fact that she didn’t have any money or experience faze her. “I was living with my mother and my grandmother at the time,” she says, laughing. “I had done zero market research. I just hoped people would show up.”

People slowly have. The Second Floor now hosts four events a week, from poetry writings to live theater performances to forums on critical issues. Last month,the café hosted Pakistan’s first hackathon, a weekend-long event with nine teams focusing on solutions to civic problems in Pakistan ahead of last Saturday’s national election. “People are very disillusioned with mainstream politics right now,” Mahmud says. “We wanted to come up with a way to put that energy to use.”
Starting with 30 high-level problem areas, they whittled it down to nine specific issues that could be solved with concrete apps. “Not a single soul questioned that these problems could not be solved,” Ahmed says. “It was all a matter of selecting the right approach.”..

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story of a Pakistani woman entrepreneur:

.. Before becoming an entrepreneur, (Maria) Umar was a full-time teacher. She quit after her job refused her maternity leave and subsequently began writing for a woman she found through, Pakistan's premiere job portal. The money was good — almost double what she made as a teacher — but when Umar discovered her employer's oDesk profile, she realized she could make even more money by contracting with clients directly.

She set up her own oDesk account and began taking on extra jobs and outsourcing them. At first she gave the jobs to her nieces, then to their friends, and eventually to their classmates, until she realized that she had developed a small content-creation business.

Today, this company is called The Women's Digital League, an IT-solution company that trains rural Pakistani women in micro online tasks, from ghost-writing to social media management.

Ovidiu Bujorean is the Senior Manager of the GIST Initiative, which supports entrepreneurship in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. He met Umar after she won a GIST business plan competition, and recognized her ability immediately. "She is extremely passionate and persistent," he says of Umar. "She’s also very committed to her mission of helping female entrepreneurs find job opportunities...

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan to launch Science TV channel, reports Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Science Club (PSC) has launched beta version of Pakistan’s first science, technology, innovation and educational television,, which will be fully functional by August 14.
Pakistan PSC President Abdul Rauf told APP that with the launch of this channel, people would be able to access significant amounts of information with reference to any topic in a short time through different programmes.
He said today television has become an important part of people’s life as a source of information, entertainment, a great tool for learning and education, and communications.
Many different programme genres have been used to address diverse audiences for a variety of formal and non-formal learning purposes with scientifically measured results, he said.
Abdul Rauf said the channel would air educational programmes in all subjects, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and zoology, offering an excellent opportunity for young people to learn.
“In remote villages, it will help spread education to willing students through distance learning. Educational television will educate masses on hygiene, literacy, childcare and farming methods or on any topic related to day to day happenings,” he said.
PSC President said would cover all events from Pakistan related to science and technology and educational activities.
It will also offer free online courses of web application development, DIY (do it yourself) projects, project management and other science and technology topics.
He said also has an entertainment category with science fiction movies, cartoons and science entertainment programmes.
The channel will cover science and technology educational activities in addition to popularising the subjects through disseminating the relevant information and latest progress to students and common people.
Rauf said this television channel can prove to be very useful, easy to access at anytime from anywhere and users can access a significant amount of information with reference to any topic in a short time regardless of geographic barriers, allowing them to consult different points of view as well as hands-on experience through different DIY (do it yourself) projects.
The channel will use interactive and innovative programmes for this purpose that cover topics of science, chemistry, physics, education, technology, DIY projects, e-learning, documentaries, news, interviews, events, experiments and entertainment.
“The main objective of this web TV is to promote scientific culture and the youth’s interest in science, technology and innovations. The channel would also popularise science for laymen and students, seeking to cultivate the spirit of scientific inquiry and the love of learning in its audience,” said Abdul Rauf.

Ali Sher said...

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Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Tech-in-Asia piece on Start-up activity in Pakistan:

Until recently, the only incubators in Pakistan were found in hospitals or poultry farms. But now startup incubators are proliferating. This phenomenon is part of the global wave of shared office spaces, accelerators, incubator programs, and university labs that cultivate entrepreneurship and innovation in the hope of kickstarting their local tech ecosystems and becoming their region’s Silicon Valley.

Like all trends in Pakistan, entrepreneurship is a hot buzzword that’s thrown around too often and hyped beyond what the market fundamentals can support. It’s encouraging to see people get excited about running their own companies, but it’s critical to provide them the tools and most importantly the mindset to achieve extraordinary success on a global scale, rather than ending up as an ordinary local company.

Before looking at the 27 incubators that now exist in the country (embedded below), first we need to understand the environment in which these wannabe entrepreneurs are dreaming about making their first million dollars. Or, inspired by the Zuckerberg story, a billion dollars. Maybe we need a reality check first.

Ground realities
Most tech grads swept away in entrepreneurship fever follow the familiar path of two or three friends moonlighting on freelance work and then finishing their computer science degree to start a “company”, which basically means the three of them sitting at someone’s home and making websites for random clients on Odesk, Elance, or their cousin in Toronto. Once the money starts flowing in, they get a small office and hire three more people to start app development services for iOS and Android. There might be Macbooks and iPhones on the table and a Steve Jobs poster on the wall but it’s a slow, linear slog of adding “seats” and scrabbling around between between rock-bottom hourly rates, Pakistan’s image problem, and offshore client’s expectations.

This service model offers the low hanging fruit that helps get a foothold in the market but it also sucks away the time and energy needed to work on your own products. If services do well, you get more work and more money and the option of risking all that for a fantasy product with no guarantee of success is a difficult decision, one that seems harder with every passing year. It’s a bit like painting walls on daily wages and wishing that one day you’ll create the next Mona Lisa.

Even the largest tech companies in Pakistan are primarily providing services or earning from consulting focused on the typical ERP, CRM, HR, business outsourcing (BPO) solutions that a thousand other providers are vying for. Only a handful have been able to make standalone products that are profitable, let alone become leaders in their segments or globally known brands.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on E-Commerce in Pakistan:

Pakistan is one of the fastest emerging e-commerce markets in the region.
The level of trust global online groups are showing in the talents of the Pakistani youth and the e-commerce industry here suggests that, in the near future, it is likely to hold a significant share in Pakistan’s economy., a venture of Rocket Internet, a German based internet incubator operating in Pakistan, has built a reputation in the eyes of the decision makers of its parent company within just 15 months since it began operations.
The team, which is successfully operating, has been given a task to launch the same portal in 26 other countries of Europe and the Asian region.
“The level of trust by the parent company shows huge potential and bright future for the e-commerce industry in Pakistan,” said Managing Director Asian Region Ahmed Khan in an interview with The Express Tribune.
“Pakistan e-commerce industry has just started its journey and the youth is driving this sector,” he added. launched in Pakistan in January 2013 and is known as one of the best online platforms with 600 retailers offering their products to online shoppers. Khan believes that they still have a long journey and a big market to cover.
The portal is maturing some 1,000 transactions daily with an average turnover of Rs1.2 million per day. According to Khan, around 40% of the total transactions are of the apparel and jewelry segments. Due to suspicion and other issues with using plastic for payments, more than 99% of transactions are cash-based.
Khan said that the online transaction ratio will surge once the use of plastic money becomes common and the number of smartphone users also increase with the introduction of 3G and 4G services.
The exercise for online shopping via different portals for convenient shopping is increasing with each passing day. E-commerce is now spreading and is creating its share in the overall retail segment, with small, medium and large-scale retailers becoming eager to sell their products via such portals.

Riaz Haq said...

The web has played a huge role in finding new employment opportunities for freelancers. The website oDesk is the world’s largest online marketplace where buyers post information about projects so that they can be outsourced for development through freelancers from around the globe. Clients and freelancers publicly rate each other on every project, and businesses can hire on demand talent regardless of location.
As of July 2013, Pakistan ranks fifth in the website’s top freelancer countries list, working 2.6 million hours out of a total 35 million hours on oDesk in 2012. Approximately 0.214 million Pakistani freelancers are registered with oDesk out of 4 million freelancers around the world.

Matt Cooper, vice president of international enterprise for oDesk said: “The quality of projects delivered by Pakistani freelancers is at par with our top freelancer countries from around the globe. Pakistan ranks fifth on that list because Pakistani freelancers are regularly delivering quality work in a timely fashion on projects ranging from web design to blog and art jobs.”
oDesk freelancers include software developer Ovais Ahmed, who started his career as a freelance coder, developing webpages for clients around the world through websites like and “However, if you’re searching for home-based jobs through lesser known websites, then you should thoroughly inspect their credibility first,” Ahmed advises.
Another freelancer is Tayyab Tariq from Islamabad who specializes in software development, C++, SQL, and .Net. The Fulbright scholar landed his first job on oDesk while still in school and transitioned to full-time because it was closer to what he wanted to do. He helped one of his oDesk clients in Switzerland setup and manage a satellite office in Pakistan, used his oDesk earnings to invest in a software development business in Islamabad, and volunteers with an NGO that teaches data and software skills to people in villages so they can work on oDesk.

According to Tariq, associations representing the Pakistani IT industry should convey a positive image of the Pakistan IT industry abroad. If associations could positively pitch the potential of local professionals, that would create greater opportunities for them to work independently.
Ian Ippolito, entrepreneur and founder of Planet Source Code and vWorker, said that most Pakistani coders gravitate towards software development and graphic design. “However, some Pakistani coders need to enhance their communication skills, as English is not their native language. Presentation is an important factor to winning jobs and if a coder can develop rapport with a buyer, he/she will be awarded the project.”
Considering the meagre profit margin attained from freelance work for local clients, people in Pakistan largely opt for foreign clientele. An experienced term paper writer and freelancer, who requested anonymity, said that many local clients offering home-based content development jobs actually acquire projects from abroad and get them accomplished by local writers. “It has become a good business these days and the middleman takes the biggest chunk of the deal. Since we are already doing the work for foreign buyers, why not interact with them directly [through online freelancing]?” she explained.
Online freelancing offer virtually limitless possibilities. Until the local industry proves itself to be more beneficial to local freelancers, people will continue using global employment markets to find home-based jobs in Pakistan.
Top 10 Freelancer countries (by spend over the last four quarters: Q32012 – Q22013)
1. India
2. United States
3. Philippines
4. Ukraine
5. Pakistan
6. Russia
7. China
8. Bangladesh
9. Canada
10. United Kingdom

Riaz Haq said...

With the global mobile applications (apps) market expected to be worth $25 billion by 2015 — according to a report published by MarketsandMarkets, a global market research and consulting company — everyone, from independent developers and software houses to telecommunication (telecoms) giants, is hard at work to secure their share of the fully-baked pie.
Amid growing demand and increasing competition, many are chasing high-margin outsourcing contracts in developing countries such Pakistan. With an abundance of skilled but cheap labour to offer, the country is rapidly emerging as one of the leading IT outsourcing destinations of the world.
Although mobile apps have been around since the late 90s, the increasing penetration of smartphones in the country — nearly seven to eight million smartphones according to a recent research conducted by a local telecom for its marketing strategy — has made their presence felt more deeply. “The number of smartphones has exceeded the number of computers in the country and this change has come about in the past five years,” says Asad Memon, director operations at Creative Chaos, a high-end custom software development company in Karachi with over 14 years of experience.
It is also the burgeoning utility of smartphones — surpassing that of laptops — which has accounted for the explosive growth of mobile apps. For example, the smartphone’s additional features, such as the orientation sensor (built-in compass) and cell phone triangulation (which collects data to trace the approximate location of a cell phone), assist most apps, including Google maps, to do ingenious things. “The utility of these apps has started making a lot of sense to people,” he highlights, adding that even niche brands have capitalised on the feature to directly reach out to target audiences by advertising through mobile apps. As a result, it has attracted more developers into the technology ecosystem to meet the growing demand.

Asad Memon, director operations at Creative Chaos, traces the trajectory of the mobile apps industry. PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO
A popular outsourcing destination
When it comes to the global market, Pakistan plays its part as a mobile app developer. “Gora sochta hai, desi karta hai,” says Memon, summarising how foreign clients conceptualise the app and leave Pakistani developers to simply follow directions. Since the average rate charged by an iPhone app developer in the US ranges between $50 and $60 per hour, or more, depending on the brand and the complexity of the app, a cheaper solution is to outsource it to countries that quote the lowest price. Despite India being a much cheaper alternative, their issues with quality-control make Pakistan the next best alternative. “What sets Pakistan apart is the costing and the relationship of trust that has been established by delivering quality apps on time, depending on the company [developing the app],” says Memon. A basic app developed by a local software house can cost anywhere between Rs400,000 to Rs10 million, while the more sophisticated ones can go up to Rs20 million, depending on the company’s profile. Time difference is an additional advantage for Pakistan. “By the time we wake up, we are ready to incorporate changes based on the feedback we get,” he says. In certain cases, a team of 140 developers is dedicated to look after a single foreign client.


You have mentioned NUST, COMSATS is also promoting entrepreneurship. Recently an app by COMSATS student "Hajj Guider" got much prominence. , As far as the difference in earning between Indian and Pakistani freelancer, one must take into account the large number of IT graduates in India. Pakistan is following suit but we have much effort to do. Anyway it is very heartening that Pakistan stands in top-3. Way to go.....!

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan, the Next #software Hub? 1500 registered #informationtechnology companies, 10,000 IT grads every year.

Pakistan’s I.T. sector is carving a niche for itself as a favored place to go for freelance I.T. programmers, software coders and app designers. There are now 1,500 registered I.T. companies in Pakistan, and 10,000 I.T. grads enter the market every year. Energetic members of the middle class educated in Pakistan’s top universities, they have honed their skills at the many hackathons, start-up fairs and expos, digital summits and entrepreneurial events at campuses, software houses and I.T. associations across the country.

Next comes showcasing their skills to a global market in order to grow businesses. So Pakistani freelance programmers flock to global freelance hiring sites such as Upwork, or, where digital employers in the United States, Australia or Britain bid to hire programmers for small software and app projects. On these platforms, hiring someone from Pakistan becomes as easy as hiring someone from Ireland or India, because traditional concerns about security, corruption and invasive bureaucracy in Pakistan do not apply.

The formula is working: the Pakistani programmers market ranks as the No. 3 country for supplying — freelance programmers — behind only the United States and India, and up from No. 5 just two years ago. It ranks in the upper 10 to 25 percent on Upwork’s listing of growth rates for top-earning countries, alongside India, Canada and Ukraine. Pakistan’s freelance programmers already account for $850 million of the country’s software exports; that number could go up to $1 billion in the next several months, says Umar Saif, who heads the Punjab I.T. Board and previously taught and did research work at M.I.T.

The optimism one hears in Karachi and Lahore even withstood a scandal last May, when news broke that Axact, one of Pakistan’s largest I.T. companies, was operating as a fake degree mill. Members of the tight-knit I.T. community reacted at first with fears for Pakistan’s chances to become a major player on the world’s I.T. stage. Perhaps those fears acted as a spur to the authorities, who arrested Axact’s chief within weeks after the scheme was laid bare.

In any event, three days after investigators raided Axact’s offices, Naseeb Networks International, a Lahore-based company that runs the online job marketplace, announced that it had won a third round of investments, worth $6.5 million, from the European investment firms Vostok Nafta and Piton Capital, bringing the company’s total venture capital funding to $8.5 million. It was the latest in a series of large venture capital investments in Pakistan over the last year and a half.


It’s now also faster and easier for foreign companies to acquire the apps these programmers create, in contrast with negotiating traditional service contracts, and Mr. Saif anticipates that such start-ups will themselves become targets for acquisition by overseas companies.

According to him, venture capital is the one missing ingredient in an enabling environment that the government, universities and software associations are building. Per Brilioth, the managing director of Vostok Nafta Investment, agrees. “The macro indicators and demographics are very strong,” he said, “and the country doesn't seem to get a lot of investor attention, so valuations are reasonable."

Those factors — and the rapidity with which Pakistan’s 200 million people are embracing the Internet on sub-$50 Chinese 3G smartphones — are markers on which Pakistan’s entrepreneurial leaders pin their hopes for the future. They see problems like Axact as bumps in the road as Pakistan builds a haven for I.T. development.

Riaz Haq said...

Sixteen-year-old Raffay Ansari is a self-taught programmer. He’s been an iOS developer for over three years and has now graduated into full-stack, meaning he’s comfortable working with a number of different languages as well as both back-end and front-end technologies. The teenage prodigy from Pakistan has earned several thousand dollars freelancing online, coded games that have attracted about 8 million cumulative downloads, and is now on the brink of launching his own start-up....Raffay has Ataxia, which means he has difficulty walking, speaking clearly, writing, reading, and other activities that require fine motor control. Raffay tells Tech in Asia that his muscles continue to weaken, even after his diagnosis over two years ago.

“The disease is more of a gift to me. As I can’t sleep much at night, I utilise the time learning new things instead. People treat me differently and are always willing to help. It’s a huge advantage,” he beams.


The internet became Raffay’s teacher. He taught himself how to code through free online courses, primarily from Code Academy. His parents were initially reluctant to encourage his sudden interest in programming, but warmed up to the idea once they saw his passion for it. By the age of 13, he had successfully bid for and completed his first freelance assignment – coding the iOS game Mr Flap.

Raffay is now on the brink of launching his own start-up, Odyssy, which he describes as a data-driven content management system (CMS) targeted at bloggers and publishers who aren’t very technologically savvy and who don’t want to spend time coding in HTML. He reveals Odyssy is on the brink of closing its seed funding round – $20,000 from an angel investor based out of Islamabad.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan IT industry climbing up to no 3 to grab world attention with its freelancers …

Pakistan’s tiny IT sector is carving out a niche for itself -- so much so that it has been the subject of several stories in international publications such as the New York Times, the Global Post, Al Jazeera, to name a few. Perhaps the interest is because of the obvious potential of the industry: There are now 1,500 registered IT companies in Pakistan, and 10,000 IT grads enter the market every year.

Perhaps even more significantly, the democratisation of demand as facilitated by the internet-era, has enabled Pakistan to climb up market ranks to become the No. 3 country for supplying freelance programmers, behind only the United States and India, and up from No. 5 just two years ago. This is because programmers in Pakistan can easily sign up to platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr, where the person hiring them is less interested in their location and more concerned with their skill. Because the programmer in Pakistan is using a third party platform, logistical, bureaucratic and other constraints that are typically associated with Pakistan, including corruption, do not apply.

As reported by The New York Times, Pakistan ranks in the upper 10 to 25 percent on Upwork’s listing of growth rates for top-earning countries, alongside India, Canada and Ukraine. Pakistan’s freelance programmers already account for $850 million of the country’s software exports; that number could go up to $1 billion in the next several months, says Umar Saif, who heads the Punjab IT Board and previously taught and did research work at M.I.T.

As reported by the Global Post, Pakistan’s software export industry employs some 24,000 people, according to government figures. Most companies in Pakistan’s IT sector — including mobile game studios — are growing at more than 30 percent a year, says Pakistan’s software industry trade body, P@SHA.

With success come challenges, and Pakistan’s nascent IT industry faced its first such challenge last May, when news broke that Axact, one of Pakistan’s largest IT companies, was operating as a fake degree mill. Authorities acted fast, arrested Axact’s chief within days, though the controversy did lead many to comment on whether the country’s IT industry stood a chance in the long-term.

That question was answered almost immediately, when just three days after the Axact controversy, Naseeb Networks International, a Lahore-based company that runs the online job marketplace, announced that it had won a third round of investments worth $6.5 million, from the European investment firms Vostok Nafta and Piton Capital. The latest round of funding brought the company’s total venture capital funding to $8.5 million.

Or take the example of Caramel Tech Studios, a Pakistan-based mobile game startup that created the sensation “Fruit Ninja” for an Australian developer. Another such startup in Pakistan is Mindstorm Studios, maker of “Whacksy Taxi,” a racing game that topped Apple’s App Store in more than 25 countries.

And while constraints such as bureaucracy, shortage of land/space for offices, power shortages, et cetera remain a challenge, they are offset by positives, most importantly cost. “If we have a million dollars in the bank ... in the US we might only be able to make one and a half games, whereas here we might be able to make 10 games,” Saad Zaeem of Caramel Tech Studios told The Global Post, adding that graduates here are as qualified as Western ones and cost a lot less to employ, giving software startups a competitive advantage over high-wage Western countries.

Further, the rise of the mobile software market has been a huge gamechanger. “Prior to the iPhone …