Here's is how Jamal has described his experience of working with Baidu's founder Robin Lee:
"I first experienced this Chinese tech dynamism when, inspired by the late-1990s Internet start-up culture, I moved to Silicon Valley and founded ePlanet Capital, a venture capital firm. I was new to the field and unsure what to expect. In 2000, I met Robin Li, a Chinese entrepreneur in his twenties who was seeking funding for his new company, Baidu. Based on conventional investment criteria, Baidu’s chances of success seemed low. The company had no track record, limited funding, and an inexperienced team, yet they were aiming to challenge search giants Google and Yahoo. But I soon learned that in the new Internet world, these obstacles were perfectly normal and surmountable by visionary, passionate entrepreneurs with big dreams and ideas. Consequently, my firm went ahead and invested in Robin’s vision. Within five years of that first meeting, Baidu went from little more than an idea to being the leader in China’s Internet search industry, leaving Google and Yahoo far behind. Today, it is one of China’s top three Internet companies, forming the so-called BAT triumvirate along with Alibaba and Tencent. Robin himself is now the Larry Page (or Bill Gates) of China, with a net worth of over $10 billion".
Jamal believes that China offers a good example for Pakistan to follow to develop its own technology business to "break its cycle of poverty". Here's an excerpt from an article he wrote for Project Syndicate:
"The good news for Pakistan and other countries in a similar position is that tech start-ups require far fewer resources than traditional large-scale industrial firms. Whereas the latter typically need hundreds of millions of dollars in capital, plant and machinery, and bank loans, tech companies need only a small team of smart people, computers, modest funding, and mentorship. Young Pakistani entrepreneurs are just as well placed as their Chinese counterparts were two decades ago: they need big ideas and encouragement to build on them. Here, of course, the provision of venture capital is essential. Pakistan should therefore establish a national venture capital fund to promote technology entrepreneurship. Moreover, China’s rise as an economic and technology leader gives Pakistan a unique opportunity to learn from its neighbor and collaborate with it in education, science, and technology. And Pakistan should leverage its historical ties with US and British universities in these areas".
Here's a video of Asad Jamal's speech at Islamabad National University's inaugural event also attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan:
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If we could know how much he invested and how much that investment has grown. What is Mr. Asad Jamal’s net worth now?
MK: "If we could know how much he invested and how much that investment has grown. What is Mr. Asad Jamal’s net worth now?"
Asad Jamal has been on Forbes Midas List of top global VCs several times since 2007. Here's his Linked-in profile:
Asad Jamal is Founder and Chairman of ePlanet Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Since late-1990’s, ePlanet pioneered migration of technology venture capital to global emerging markets in Asia, Europe, Middle-East, and Latin America. Asad was ranked among the “Top 20” venture capitalists worldwide by Forbes Midas List for 2007, 2008 and 2009, and received the “Pioneer of Global Venture Capital” accolade by Forbes in 2007.
ePlanet has invested in over hundred companies in Technology, Media, & Telecom sectors including wireless telecommunications, computing software, consumer internet, enterprise software, and digital media. A number of ePlanet’s investments have become category-leading companies, including Baidu, (China’s No.1 Internet search & AI company), Skype, (the global No.1 VOIP company), Focus Media, (China’s leading digital-media company), Virgin Mobile Middle-East & Africa, (the No.1 MVNO in MENA), Virgin Mobile Latin America, (the leading MVNO in Latin America), amongst others. The aggregate market value of ePlanet’s successful exits is in excess of $100 Billion.
Asad founded Good Planet, a non-profit global foundation, to support educational projects and relieve world poverty. Good Planet works with the UN Education Envoy in supporting achievement of Millennium Development Goals in Education, particularly in underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia. He also sponsored Singularity University in Silicon Valley, which seeks to utilize exponential technologies to solve the world’s pressing challenges. He graduated with a B.Sc. (Honors) from the London School of Economics, and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.
‘Don’t miss the boat’, #Pakistan #PMImranKhan tells #investors in #Dubai. “This is the time to come to Pakistan, when it is just going on the upswing. This is the time to invest in the country – and don’t miss the boat” #WGS2019 #UAE http://bit.ly/2Sp1t7f
Addressing the World Government Summit in Dubai, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday made a strong investment pitch for his country, advising investors “don’t miss the boat” as Pakistan goes on a business-friendly “upswing”.
Khan, a former cricket player, mentioned a wide-ranging “ambitious reforms programme”, which also includes various opportunities for businesses “to make money”, tax reforms, deficit cuts, tourism development, and a new visa regime.
“This is the time to come to Pakistan, when it is just going on the upswing. This is the time to invest in the country – and don’t miss the boat,” Khan told a huge crowd of summit delegates during his main address at the Madinat Jumeriah resort.
Attending Khan’s session were His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
After recalling the history of his entry and rise in politics, Khan said his party Tehreek-e-Insaf eventually formed the government in the last elections, in 2018.
“So now we have our reforms agenda… we’ve started our ambitious reforms programme. We’re trying to improve all our economic policies, trying to cut down our fiscal deficit, improve exports, cut down our imports…we’re doing that,” he added.
Pakistan, Khan said, is already seeing “optimism and investors are coming into our country. We feel that this is the time that Pakistan will take off”.
He said Shaikh Mohammad had told him earlier “you must allow businesses to make money; investors must make profits. And the reason is simple… if they can make money, more people come and invest. So this is what we’ve done”.
Khan added: “We’ve started working on ease of doing business… we’re changing our tax laws, which were very cumbersome.”
He also pointed out that Pakistan has “the best tourism potential… Pakistan has probably one of the best mountain scenery anywhere in the world. Half of the world’s highest peaks are in Pakistan; we have 1,000km of coastline; the oldest historical monuments, as old as anywhere in the world; we’ve the Indus Valley Civilisation; ancient cities”.
Pakistan, Khan added, is also poised to benefit from a unique offering of “religious tourism”.
“We have the ‘Makkah’ and ‘Madinah’ for the Sikhs – the Sikh religion has its two holiest sites in Pakistan and we’ve just opened those sites for Sikhs.”
There are important Buddhist sites too and Sufi shrines all over Pakistan, he said.
“And we’ve opened a visa regime. For the first time in Pakistan, we have 70 countries which can come in and get a visa at the airport.
“What we’re doing is, we’re opening up the country; we’re opening up for tourism and investors.”
The seventh edition of the annual summit ends on Tuesday.
I had a great conversation with a young Pakistani entrepreneur earlier today (2 AM that lasted until past 5 AM EST). He was born year I graduated from KGS!
But he reflects the entrepreneurial- and aspiring for Pakistan - spirit our class lacked. In our class the achievers mostly hightailed it out of the country.
Maybe because we were not of entrepreneurial bent. We were just going to be professionals and saw limited future in Pakistan.
He has land in Karachi and wants to set up an IT City;but he has big plans beyond just IT. Wants it to also have a think tank providing info and also testing ideas for practical use in Pakistan. He has businesses in Pakistan and Dubai. He is on one of the PTI related whatsapp groups I am on and he approached me directly.
Some of us are giving back to Pakistan, and now the time is right for really providing more support because the Govt is so receptive and it has supporters like this young Pakistani I connected with. Many of them young people are in IT in Pakistan and outside it-including serial entrepreneur (in US and Canada) Shahbaz Khan. Some youngsters are already activists supporting local communities on the ground.
I told him that my niece has revealed to me by the example she set that Pakistan has a lot of potential for entrepreneurs. They just need financial support (seed money) and support in biz management skills. There is lots of low hanging fruit available there that has long been plucked in US and developed countries!
I also told him that outside what VC's support it is brutal for entrepreneurs in US. I saw that from how a cousin of mine has struggled with getting financing.
We are going to remain in touch.
You have to hand it to Imran Khan. He's doing all he can, going all out with a big WELCOME TO PAKISTAN sign wherever he goes in the Arab world. I have never seen such excitement before from any Pakistani leader. He is eloquent, dapper, and charming. Girls fall head over heels for him, even now, such as the wife of the aging Malaysian PM.
He has had many lives. Oxford-educated playboy friends with Princess Di who impregnated women in LA. World-famous cricket star and legend. An opposition leader who shut down Islamabad with his sit-in. The new prime minister who wants to build an Islamic Welfare State that no one else has ever built since the original edifice crumbled and was replaced with draconian monarchies, one more vicious than the other, and now in his third marriage to a woman who is his spiritual counselor and who shows up very infrequently, clad from head to toe in white.
I hope tourists will start pouring into the country. But I seriously doubt it unless the security situation improves. And there is not much to see in Mohenjo Daro and Harrappa. The ruins are a big disappointment for the average tourist. Plus they are in terrible shape. The mountain peaks have been there forever.
I can't say much about the investments that he is courting.
Ahmad: " But I seriously doubt it unless the security situation improves. And there is not much to see in Mohenjo Daro and Harrappa. The ruins are a big disappointment for the average tourist. Plus they are in terrible shape. The mountain peaks have been there forever. "
I am expecting about $40 billion to pour into Pakistan in the next 5 years if Imran Khan stays and begins to deliver this year
$20 billion is already committed by investors from Gulf and China. I have faith in Imran Khan’s skill in doubling it with positive results.
It’s always helpful for political and economic stability to have both the civil and military leadership on the same page
The first sign that foreign investment in Pakistan is (1) safe and (2) beneficial will be the Pakistani expats investing in Pakistan. They are like canary of this mine.
If they start investing in Pakistan’s economy, a huge signal will go out that things are well.
On the other hand, in the words of Jim Wolsey of CIA, (when talking about Russia), if you buy a piece of land, then you find there are 5 other people who claim that land, investors would shy away.
So, Pakistani PMs have to ensure investments in Pakistan are as safe as in Dubai, London, or SF.
Land mafia, corrupt police, corrupt bureaucracy, corrupt courts, red tape- as these demons move out, investments move in.
Rashid: " If they start investing in Pakistan’s economy, a huge signal will go out that things are well. "
Remittances from Pakistan’s diaspora have jumped 21X since year 2000 to nearly $21 billion in 2018
It seems that the average increase is about 18%. Yet somehow that has not helped Pakistan in foreign exchange problem. And it was happening when corruption was high. If one assumes 18% increase is the base line IK govt should show substantial increase in this change.
Rashid: "It seems that the average increase is about 18%. Yet somehow that has not helped Pakistan in foreign exchange problem."
Pakistan's exports have been flat for the last 4 years in absolute terms and significantly down as percentage of GDP.
Like India, Pakistan also runs large trade deficits. It also depends on foreign investments, remittances from overseas Pakistanis and foreign debt for its dollar reserves. So why does Pakistan have serious recurring balance of payments crises?
Unlike India, Pakistan ranks very low among recipients of foreign direct and portfolio investments as percentage of its GDP. . Part of it is the perception of insecurity since 911. The real security situation has dramatically improved in the last few years but the perception continues to lag.
Pakistan's exports have also lagged behind India's as percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, Pakistan's exports have halved from about 16% of GDP in 2003 to 8% of GDP in 2017. India's exports have increased from 15% to 19% of GDP in the same period, according to the World Bank.
#Pakistan Citizen's Portal #app, launched last year by #PMImranKhan, wins 2nd spot among 4,646 #MobileApps from 87 countries competing in #Dubai at the #WGS earlier this week. #Indonesia came out on top while the #UnitedStates stood at the third spot. #PTI https://www.dawn.com/news/1463589
The citizen's portal app was developed by a team in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa "free of cost" in a "record time of 45 days", the prime minister said.
"This is the first time any government-owned mobile application [has] reached this level in Pakistan."
So far, around 250,000 out of 420,000 complaints that were registered through the app have been resolved with 55 per cent 'satisfactory' feedback from the public, according to statistics posted by Prime Minister Khan.
The application has a 4.5 rating on Google Play and a 3.5 rating on Apple Store.
The World Government Summit is a non-profit organisation, that holds an annual event in Dubai. According to its website, the World Government Summit is a "global platform dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide". The organisation aims to "set the agenda for the next generation of governments" to tackle both global and local challenges with the help of technological innovations.
The event held by the World Government Summit serves as "knowledge exchange platform" by bringing together governments and private entrepreneurs. Leaders, entrepreneurs and experts from over 150 countries are invited every year.
#China's Gobi Partners and #Pakistan's Fatima Ventures launch $20 million #VC fund for #startups. Fatima Ventures has already made investments in 5 local startups and Gobi Ventures had made their first investment in Pakistan last year
https://www.menabytes.com/gobi-fatima-pakistan-fund/ via @MENAbytes
Gobi Partners, a China-headquartered venture capital firm with big presence in Southeast Asia and over $1.1 billion of assets under its management is partnering with Pakistan-based Fatima Ventures that is investing arm of one of the largest conglomerates of the country Fatima Group to launch a $20 million fund to invest in early-stage technology startups in Pakistan, Gobi announced in a statement to MENAbytes.
The fund that will be co-manged by Gobi Partners and Fatima Ventures will focus on seed and Series A investments in tech startups of the country. Gobi Partners in a astatement said that the sectors they will be investing in include travel, logistics, fintech, healthcare, education, e-commerce, consumer tech, industrial internet and Taqwatech, an investment vertical that targets innovative startups offering products and services that cater for the global Muslim population.
Speaking on the launch of the fund, Gobi’s Managing Director Jamaludin Bujang, said, “Gobi began our ASEAN operations in Malaysia, and we have now ventured out of the region to other countries with potential, such as Pakistan. This is a nation that has all of the right ingredients to be one of the fastest-growing digital markets – it has a sizeable and young population, as well as a growing middle class, not to mention high Internet penetration, with about one million users going online every month. The country also has a high number of unbanked citizens which means that there is a lot of potential for FinTech startups in Pakistan.”
“We believe that the nation’s growth will mirror that of Indonesia, and as an early investor in that market, we have the insights and experience in seeking out successful business models which we can apply to the Pakistani ecosystem,” he added.
Gobi’s Chairman and Founding Partner Thomas G. Tsao, said, “Pakistan is the second largest Muslim market in the world and is at the center of a $200 billion Muslim digital market. It is increasingly evident to savvy investors that Muslims are one of the most powerful sets of consumer purchasers and there is an immense market opportunity as the communities’ digital needs are largely underserved.”
Fatima Ventures Founder and CEO Ali Mukhtar, said, “Pakistan is emerging, and we at Fatima want to help Pakistani entrepreneurs emerge with her. Through our partnership with Gobi, we will now be able to fully support and nurture early-stage companies and, when they are ready, we can help them to scale. Gobi’s region-wide network and wealth of experience together with Fatima’s large footprints and local expertise will also be a boost to the Pakistani entrepreneurial community.”
“For both Fatima and Gobi, the launch of the Fund not only means more funding options for Pakistani startups, but it will help to promote common values, the digitization of traditional industries, as well as further the inclusion of underserved communities as a whole,” Gobi Partners, said in a statement to MENAbytes.
Founded by Ali Mukhtar, Fatima Ventures has already made investments in five local startups and has also partnered with Lahore University of Management Sciences to set up, what it claims is the largest tech incubation center in Lahore (NIC Lahore).
Gobi Ventures had made their first investment in Pakistan last year by leading Karachi-based OTA SastaTicket’s $1.5 million Series A.
Last year, Sarmayacar, another VC fund for Pakistani startups had announced their first close of $30 million.
IFC to invest $2.5m to support tech startups in Pakistan
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, will invest $2.5 million in Sarmayacar, one of the first early-stage venture capital funds supporting tech-driven startups in Pakistan, to help boost entrepreneurship and spur economic growth. Of the total amount, $2 million is equity commitments from Startup Catalyst, IFC’s global programme that backs accelerators and seed funds in emerging markets, said IFC press statement, adding that through this initiative, the corporation supports startups that provide innovative solutions to development problems and create quality jobs. The remaining $500,000 is from the Women Entrepreneurship Finance Initiative (We-Fi), a partnership among governments, multilateral development banks and other public and private sector stakeholders, hosted by the World Bank Group. We-Fi supports women entrepreneurs in developing countries by building their capacity, scaling up access to financial products and services, and providing links with domestic and global markets. “Pakistan offers a unique opportunity with its improving stability, large, young population, rising middle class, fast-growing internet and smartphone penetration, and a dearth of venture capital in the ecosystem,” said Rabeel Warraich, Founder of Sarmayacar. Rabeel said that the IFC’s goal at Sarmayacar was to provide value-add early-stage funding to entrepreneurs who are building scalable, market-transforming consumer and enterprise technology businesses in Pakistan. “This marks the first such investment from the World Bank Group in Pakistan and will enable us to back more startups in the country, while also providing access to a global network, new markets and domain expertise to our portfolio companies,” said Rabeel Warraich added.
Why Pakistani Startups Are The Next Big Thing
Published on December 1, 2019
Founder & Managing Partner at Indus Valley Capital
Last 18 months saw more acquisition & fundraising activity for Pakistani startups than the previous 10 years combined. That's a clear sign of the Pakistani startup market having hit an inflection point.
Firstly, the acquisition of Daraz by Alibaba for somewhere between $150M-200M highlighted the potential of ecommerce in the country. Six months later, EasyPaisa getting valued at $410M+ in the 45% buyout by ANT Financial, showed how valuable the fintech sector was. Both Daraz and EasyPaisa had only captured a fraction of these markets at the time of these deals.
At the same time, three unicorns with Pakistani founders and a significant team presence in Pakistan, all hit massive new milestones. Afiniti, a startup developing artificial intelligence for use in customer call centers, was valued at $1.6B in its series D round late last year. KeepTruckin, building trucking fleet management solutions, raised $149M in its series D round, valuing at $1.25B in Apr 2019. And the most exciting development was Careem's $3.1 Billion acquisition by Uber in March 2019. Careem's early tech and product was developed in Pakistan, the CEO Mudassir Sheikha is a Pakistani and Pakistan is one of its largest markets. One of the largest tech acquisitions of all time, slightly ahead of Apple's acquisition of Beats, this was a seminal event that has galvanized the Pakistani startup ecosystem. Ex-Careem employees are already out there starting new companies and joining high-growth startups.
Zameen/EPMG, one of the earliest and largest Pakistani startup success stories, raised a massive $100M series D round in February 2019. They have now expand to 40 cities across the UAE, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Spain and Romania, and have over 2,000 employees.
Finally, what's most exciting is that Pakistani startups have crossed the seed to series A chasm. Three of the largest series A rounds in Pakistan have all happened in the last 8 months: Bykea's $5.7M series A in April, Cheetay's $7.8M series A in September, and Airlift securing $12M in series A funding in November. Airlift's large series A is particularly amazing because the startup only launched 8 months ago. This would be remarkable even for a Silicon Valley startup and is illustrative of how quickly startups can capture share in the completely untapped Pakistani market.
Airlift series A round is led by First Round Capital, a leading Silicon Valley VC, known for early bets on Uber and Square. First Round has not invested in Asia in more than a decade, not in China nor in India nor in Indonesia. Yet they chose to invest in a Pakistani startup given the opportunity they saw. I believe this is not a one-off event and is reflective of how primed Pakistani startup ecosystem is to take off after a long time of slow build-up.
What's Ahead: Wapistanis and VC Dollars flowing to Pakistan
To sum it up, Pakistan is the largest market untapped by startups and venture capital today. Pakistanis form one of the biggest tech talent pools in the world and have done well across the globe, founding several unicorns (at least six by my count) and having played a leading role in many others. With this talent advantage, Pakistani startups are well positioned to dominate all major industries in Pakistan and also expand to MENA, a $3.6 trillion economy that's also relatively early in the startup cycle.
What took Indonesia a decade, Pakistan will do it faster because the broadband penetration is at a much higher baseline, because capital moves faster to global opportunities today than it did a decade ago and because Pakistan has a larger talent base both at home and among the diaspora.
#SBP modernizes FX regulations to a) attract foreign investment in fintechs and startups thru holding companies; b) support exporters to establish presence abroad to promote Pakistani products; and c) allow residents to acquire sweat equity; and more:
SBP Modernizes Foreign Exchange Regulations to facilitate Start-ups, Fintechs and Exports
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has notified revisions in chapter 20 of the Foreign Exchange Manual to
facilitate Start-ups, Fintechs and Exports. The new policy for equity investment abroad will attract
foreign direct investment through the establishment of holding companies by Pakistani fintechs and
startups; support exports by facilitating exporters to establish subsidiaries or branch offices outside
Pakistan; and, allow resident Pakistanis to acquire sweat equity, amongst other changes to the Foreign
Exchange (FX) regulations. Further changes in the foreign exchange regulations will facilitate portfolio
investment in the country including mutual funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) and Real Estate
Investment Trust (REIT) Funds through Pak rupee based Roshan Digital Account (RDA) and Special
Convertible Rupee Account (SCRA).
SBP, after approval of the Federal Government, has introduced three new categories of investment
abroad under its revised policy governing equity investment abroad and banks have been authorized
to allow remittances under newly introduced categories.
i. Establishment of Holding Company abroad by residents for raising capital from
abroad: Pakistan’s investment regime is quite liberal that allows full freedom to repatriate profit,
dividend and capital; however, some international investors prefer to invest indirectly through
holding company established abroad specially in the Fintech and Startup firms. SBP’s revised
policy will enable the Pakistani Fintech and startup companies to channelize foreign direct
investment in the country by establishing a holding company abroad against remittance of up to
USD 10,000 and subsequent swapping of shares to mirror the shareholding of local company in
the holding company.
ii. Establishment of subsidiary/branch office abroad by export oriented companies/ firms for
promoting exports: The policy will enable the export oriented companies to establish subsidiary/
branch office abroad against remittance of 10% of their average annual export earnings of last
three calendar years, or USD 100,000 whichever is higher. This will facilitate exploring new and
non-traditional markets and capturing more export orders, as international buyers prefer dealing
with subsidiaries/ representative offices of foreign companies present in their
country. Accordingly, the proposed policy would help in growth of export-oriented companies and
boost the exports of the country.
ii. Investment abroad by Resident Individuals: The policy will allow the resident Individuals of
Pakistan to acquire equity stake in international firms through share option plans or investment in
listed securities subject to observance of annual ceiling of foreign exchange defined in the policy.
In case of sweat equity a person can acquire upto twenty percent shareholding in a foreign
company. These policy provisions will provide opportunities to individuals to earn foreign
exchange for the country in the form of repatriation of dividend/ capital gains to Pakistan.
Investment in Mutual/Private Funds in Pakistan by Non-Residents:
With an objective to attract investment in the country, SBP has allowed the trading of units of funds
quoted at Stock Exchange, including Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)
Pakistan launches growth funds for startups
The (IT) minister (Aminul Haq) said the overall environment in the country is improving. Bykea, one of the startups accelerated at NIC Karachi, has raised $21 million of Series B Funding.
Altogether, 122 deals worth $178 million were made from 2015-2020 in Pakistani startups including another 19 deals with amounts that were undisclosed. This brings the total deals count up 141.
Asim Shahryar Husain, CEO of Ignite said 272 startups have graduated from Ignite’s National Incubation Centers with a total investment commitment of Rs8 billion and cumulative revenue of Rs3 billion. These nascent companies have created more than 100,000 new jobs and these numbers quantify the achievements of our five incubators in a short span of time. Ignite is planning vertical incubators and accelerators in future to boost the startup ecosystem of Pakistan.
Husain said the platform will be the first of its kind in and will aim to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and national and international investors of all types including commercial and impact investors, donors and philanthropists.
The ministry and Ignite will invite various investors, donors and other investment/financial institutions to participate in the platform to consider business opportunities for financing, investments, supply chain commitments and networking. “It will be open to qualifying startups from all NICs and AP incubated and accelerated businesses across Pakistan. Under PakImpactInvest, first grand national pitching session of top 25-30 startups selected from all NICs and AP accelerated companies will be held in the last week of March 2021.”
In 2012, Pakistan’s start-up ecosystem had only two major
business incubators and accelerators – it has quickly evolved
By 2019, the country had 24 incubators and
accelerators and around 20 key investors
with many funds
catering to early stage start-ups.
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