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The year of 2016 was unremarkable in terms of the funding ecosystem. Just a few startups managed to secure seed investments and even fewer made it to later-stage funding rounds. But some bright stars blazed a trail for others to follow in 2017. And, with Pakistan’s strong GDP growth, an educated English-speaking workforce, and widespread internet penetration; the foundations are there for a larger group to follow in their funding footsteps.
The 5 million times downloaded app that hands out free mobile credit to users that view their content or click on ads secured US$3.6 million in Series A funding late in 2016 bringing its total investor funds up to US$4.6 million. With this war chest they have set their eyes on expanding into new territories—the lucrative Middle Eastern market tops their agenda.
The latest entrant to Pakistan’s fintech sector is the US$ 1 million seed backed Finja. This startup wants to get locals to start using fee-free mobile wallets, and it has partnered with a local microfinance bank to make this possible. Finja is on a mission to bring mobile banking services to 30 million customers. The funding it received from a Swedish venture capital firm will go a long way to outsmarting the competition on price, process, and functionality.
In February 2016 Lamudi—the global property platform—drew in US$31.4 million to bolster their cash reserves. Backed by Rocket Internet—worth US$5 billion—it is in a strong position to start dominating the online property market in Pakistan. Based in thirteen different countries across the globe, but headquartered in Berlin it draws on international expertise to build a marketplace advantage over their competition. Lamudi’s website is slick, user-friendly, and since launching two years ago, it has already gotten the leading real estate agents onboard.
In the land of the rickshaw—used by 80% of the population—Travly spotted an opportunity. Starting off as a one stop shop for rickshaw commuters it has since expanded into buses, taxis, and cargo services. Three years after starting it unlocked $200,000 which will go towards expanding into several new territories. It was a graduate of Plan9—Pakistan’s largest technology incubator.
The customer loyalty and engagement platform PerkUp managed to close out a seed round worth US$150,000 last year. With that money, it hopes to help businesses to understand customer preferences like what they purchase and why and it offers clever ways to entice customers to come back to your website.
Incubated in Nest i/o, Sukoon is Pakistan’s highest valued online repair service managing to raise a substantial investment from Crescent Ventures and TIE Islamabad Angel Fund. With the much-welcomed cash windfall, it hopes to move internationally once its Pakistan operations are off the ground. While many people still trust their regular plumber and electrician, a younger population predominantly female prefer to order a skilled professional online.