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Advice for Local Entrepreneurs

Local entrepreneurs now have a lot of opportunities to get involved and receive funding and mentorship. Entrepreneurs can test their business idea by applying to competitions such as Startup Weekend or P@sha’s Launchpad events that are held in all major cities of pakistan. Entrepreneurs can also apply to local incubators such as Plan9 or The Foundation, or have JumpStart Pakistan appoint an investor/CEO who can help the entrepreneur in the earliest stages of the business firm and groom them to take over.

Advice for Foreign Entrepreneurs

There is a lot of room and opportunity to grow within Pakistan, however opportunities are fast being exploited by local entrepreneurs or foreign investors. The overall market for using internet as a commerce platform is growing quickly, however, its base is still very small, so expect good returns in the medium to long term. With a growing internet and mobile population though, there is a lot of open market space in which a new entrepreneur can gain a strong presence.

Advice for Foreign Investors

Pakistan has one of the most liberal investment policies in the region. There is no limit on equity – you can have 100 per cent ownership, nor is there a limit on repatriation of capital so whatever you earn, you can take it away. There are also no requirements on having a local partner, so if you want to enter the country with 100% control you can.

Investors who are looking to take advantage of the growing economies in Pakistan are best suited for investment in Pakistani companies that are operating locally. With most markets still uncontested, gaining a strong position now will result in a considerable advantage at a later stage when the country's young and growing population becomes fully confident with e-commerce.”

Rocket Internet is a large investor with its first investment coming in May 2012, and has now started 7 startups, including FoodPanda, Kaymu, & EasyTaxi. Other local startups have also received funding from investors such as Kima Ventures, DFJ and ePlanet Ventures.

Investors who are keen on investing startups that look to serve global markets will also not be disappointed. A lot of Pakistani startups are focused on international markets by way of mobile app development. These startups tend to go to local incubators such as Plan9 which was recently visited by Fadi Bishara of Blackbox VC, who believes that “Tech startups in Pakistan are really hardcore technology - even more so than Silicon Valley”. Local startups such as Appography, XGear and Groopic all fit this bill.