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6 Six inspiring Entrepreneurs of Pakistan

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There is a common saying “Success begets success”. The successful walk the success, and sometimes the best way to make your dreams a reality is by following in the footsteps of those who have already amassed a great deal of success. By following successful people in our lives, we give ourselves a role model to look up to, someone who can inspire us to strive harder in our efforts to attain success. This is especially true for entrepreneurs, as those who aspire to use their talent and skills for bringing new forms of innovation to the world and benefit the lives of others, will gain a lot of motivation from other successful entrepreneurs. By following other entrepreneurs, they can get to learn about many of the challenges which entrepreneurs face during their career, and learn to accept that determination and firm dedication to their life goals will ultimately reap success for them.

Several influential Pakistani entrepreneurs have made huge contributions in the world of innovation, by staying true to their dreams and working with diligence. Some brilliant success stories of Pakistani entrepreneurs are described as follows:

Success Stories of Young Pakistani Entrepreneurs

1- Zia Imran

Zia Imran is an entrepreneur, inventor and a motivational speaker in Pakistan. He is currently involved in a project, building home automation and energy saving devices based on IoT technologies. He is also working as part of the SPRING Accelerator team in Pakistan. Zia is the CEO of Vahzay (Pvt) Limited, a software company based in Lahore, which focuses on producing software, IT products, and services. He is also a founding member of Plan 9, one of the largest tech incubators in Pakistan. What makes Zia stands out among other Pakistani entrepreneurs is that he has over fifteen years’ experience of working at Silicon Valley, in product development and program management at several companies, including Oracle and Altera (now Intel).

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2- Monis Rahman

Monis Rahman is a Pakistani venture capitalist. He is the founder & CEO of Naseeb Networks, Inc., a business-centered social network, which basically serves the purpose of online job recruitment. In 2006, he started Rozee.pk, a company aimed to promote job opportunities in Pakistan.

Monis is also the co-founder of eDaycare.com, and was responsible for the development of the technology behind the startup. He has also founded and run various companies, ranging from Internet startups to chip design consultancies. He has also raised venture capital for two Internet startups in Silicon Valley. Monis Rahman started his career at Intel Corporation, where he served as a key member of Intel’s microprocessor design team. Monis has also served as the Director of KASHF Microfinance Bank Limited. He has gained a lot of fame and recognition, by being featured in various newspapers and magazines, including New York Times, CNN, InfoWorld, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Spider. Monis also holds several patents for his innovative work in Pakistan.

3- Ali Rehan

Ali Rehan is the Co-founder of Eyedeus Labs and Ingrain. Ali graduated from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He is also the CEO of Groopic Inc., and led a team of five to build, release, and market the Groopic App, a mobile application which enables people to take group pictures and include the photographer as well. Groopic has gained great reviews from TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Cult of Mac and CNN. Ali is the Co-founder of Ingrain, a native advertising platform that allows the user to place automatic and individually targeted online videos in real time. The video publisher can monetize the content without compromising the user experience. Ingrain has made significant technology breakthroughs in solving hardware related problems in Pakistan, particularly in Position Tracking & 3D Scene Understanding problems. Team Eyedeus, led by Ali Rehan, were also shortlisted for the Google Blackbox Connect entrepreneurship accelerator in 2013.

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4- Maria Umar

Maria Umar is the founder of Women’s Digital League (WDL), an online platform that provides work opportunities and digital training for Pakistani women. The turning point in her career was the Project Artemis/Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Program, when she was mentored and coached by top business professors and motivational speakers from the Silicon Valley. Maria was nominated as a Thought Leader by Ashoka Changemakers. During her time working in an online digital outsourcing sphere, under her leadership, WDL also won the Early Stage Award in the Changemakers “Women Powering Work” competition. Maria has been featured as an innovative leader by the local and international media, including Mashable, Forbes, Virgin, Ashoka, and Dawn. She is also actively striving to encourage girls to opt for STEM at an early age, through the Technovation Challenge.

5- Zafar Khan

Zafar Khan is the CEO and Founder of Sofizar, a Lahore based Internet marketing company, which sells products directly to consumers in North America, over search engines and through Facebook marketing. Sofizar makes more than ten million dollars per year in revenue. Zafar is also the CEO of Engro Digital, a chemical and processing plant, where sensory data interacts with machine learning based analytics to give real-time recommendations and alerts. Zafar was also the co-founder of PrimeDTV, an ATSC reference design company, based in Shanghai and Anaheim. He has been on the Central Executive Committee of P@SHA, and is a Past Vice Chairman. Zafar has managed to bootstrap his company into a multi-million dollar venture. He is currently working on leading his organization to tackle more verticals, and maintaining their growth rate.

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6- Farhan Masood

Farhan Masood is a brilliant and innovative entrepreneur, who has won several international awards for his contributions toward innovation. These awards include The Asia Pacific ICT Awards and the MIT Enterprise Forum BAP 2012 Competition. Farhan is the CEO of SoloInsight Inc. (USA) and SoloTech Labs (Pakistan), which aims to provide innovative solutions, which are custom designed according to the needs of the company’s clients. He has a great level of expertise in perimeter security, and he is always willing to share his knowledge by delivering keynote speeches at various university and college seminars. He is also the founder of Go Green Pakistan, a campaign aimed at promoting the spirit of patriotism in Pakistan and connecting patriots all over the country.

 

Courtesy:  NaumanKhan.com

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Digital

Pakistan Moves Closer to Train One Million Youth with Digital Skills

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Enabling people to bring at least an additional US$1 billion each year into the Pakistani economy through E-Commerce skills by 2025.

Pakistan Moves Closer to Train One Million Youth with 100+ eCommerce and Digital Skills

Karachi, Pakistan, February 05, 2021  ………Pakistan has a large labour force that stands among the top 10 largest labour forces in the world, and it’s growing day by day. To create adequate employment opportunities for them is a huge challenge. On the other hand, employers frequently keep saying that they are unable to find workers with the appropriate skills necessary for their businesses. This obviously shows that there is a mismatch between the demand and supply of skills.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has shown that skills development can play a major role in the alleviation of poverty, when carefully planned and implemented in the context of the available and emerging employment and income-generation opportunities. This multiplies many folds when the skills are acquired in the digital spheres. It not only widens the work opportunities but also opens up avenues for entrepreneurial ventures as well.

Extreme Commerce, Pakistan’s largest and renowned E-Commerce capacity building platform has excelled in its mission of making Pakistan a hub of entrepreneurial opportunities. Under the guidance of Sunny Ali, thousands of aspiring individuals from Pakistan have successfully initiated global e-commerce businesses.

Extreme Commerce, Pakistan’s largest e-commerce skill development and the entrepreneurial platform has achieved yet another milestone with the expansion of 100+ skills training courses through the “Video Boot Camp (VBC).” The Video Boot Camp includes virtual sessions and videos encompassing around 100 essential e-commerce and digital skills required to excel in the spheres of online businesses. The Video Boot Camp training program is specifically tailored to facilitate the budding entrepreneurs and businessmen and freelancers.

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According to Ali, “E-commerce has skyrocketed after the pandemic and is estimated to grow to a whopping $4.3 trillion within this year.” He further adds, “There is a huge potential for growth in eCommerce both domestic and international, and that is why Extreme Commerce has pledged to enable people to bring at least an additional $1 billion each year into the Pakistani economy through E-Commerce skills by 2025.”

The Video Boot Camp includes over a 100 plus income generating E-Commerce skills (income streams) which an entrepreneur needs to skyrocket their businesses. Some skills offered through the VBC include: Selling through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) model, Virtual Assistant and FBA Freelancing, online store management of international and local E-Commerce marketplaces, bookkeeping account management services, digital and social media marketing, content writing and graphic designing, 3D designing & modelling, data science and analytics and more.

This initiative of Extreme Commerce will be immensely fruitful in helping their trainees become leading entrepreneurs of the country. Ali, contented with his vision states, “At Extreme Commerce, we offer a multitude of digital skills that are categorized into 100+ courses/income streams under the umbrella of Video Boot Camp (VBC 2021). These skills are pivotal to reducing unemployment and enhancing the capital of our country.” Sharing his focus and goals, he adds, “Skills that actually help you succeed as an online freelancer and even in the real-life environment plus increase your income thereby, are our prime focus right now.”

Earlier, Extreme Commerce and Mishal Pakistan, the Country Partner Institute of the World Economic Forum had signed a partnership to mainstream e-commerce in Pakistan, this includes capacity building initiatives for the media and industry players, including trainings, seminars and workshops.

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The government of Pakistan has estimated digital skills global industry, often referred to as online outsourcing, is expected to generate gross service revenue between $15 billion and $25 billion in 2021.

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Covid-19

Pakistan’s small businesses hit hard by COVID-19

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Small businesses in Pakistan have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The low demand at home, disruptions in supply chains, constraints in international trading, and expected prolonged lockdowns are now leading to severe cash flow problems, the inability to pay back debts and cancellation of orders from clients. 

This rising uncertainty is gradually leading them to lay off employees which will have welfare implications. In some sectors where recovery is difficult to predict, small businesses have started planning for the worst: complete shutdown. This crisis could also imply a much bleaker outcome for the startup ecosystem in Pakistan.  

The government has announced a SME relief package. The central bank has also come forward to relieve some of the funding and finance related concerns of private enterprises. Yet, many micro and small businesses do not understand how to apply or if they are eligible, to receive such assistance. There are others who argue that this one off relief may not be enough given that businesses are going to face depressed demand for a longer term. Pakistan’s past record of small businesses trying to access such fiscal packages is also not encouraging, partly because many such firms do not access formal banking channels for their needs or banks impose steep collateral requirements. Also, large segments of micro enterprises have the entire or some components of their businesses in the informal sector.

Federal and provincial governments have two issues to address now: how to ensure that small businesses are able to access and utilize existing government-provided assistance, and secondly, what more can be done to support private enterprise in these times.

A progressive fiscal policy and commitment to redistributive taxation is in line with the spirit of Riasat-e-Madinah to which Prime Minister Imran Khan often refers to. A sincere effort is required to reduce the burden of compliance costs faced by small firms- often filing returns several times during a year and to multiple tax bodies across the country. 

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed

On the former, it would be best to start by addressing information and outreach gaps. As the problems for businesses are evolving in real-time, hence there remains a need for structured and more frequent public-private dialogue which should be inclusive enough to also give representation to women, youth-led firms and social enterprises. Such a dialogue will also give a sense to the government about how these businesses will get affected in the forthcoming rounds of Covid-19.

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On the latter, I believe the forthcoming budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 should be seen as an opportunity not only to provide support to collapsing businesses but also to put in place economic incentives that encourage enterprises to consider resilient business models. A large part of this has to do with reimagining a better taxation regime.

A progressive fiscal policy and commitment to redistributive taxation is in line with the spirit of Riasat-e-Madinah to which Prime Minister Imran Khan often refers to. A sincere effort is required to reduce the burden of compliance costs faced by small firms – often filing returns several times during a year and to multiple tax bodies across the country. It is an opportunity now to automate, rationalize or eliminate several filing and payment layers in taxation to ultimately help reduce the cost of doing business.

After a lot of persuasion from local think tanks and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), federal and provincial governments agreed to establish a National Tax Council (NTC) to harmonize the general sales tax (GST). 

Currently all provinces have a different structure of GST on services. There are also issues regarding definition of certain activities which the federal government may assume to be under its jurisdiction. Perhaps smaller firms have been the hardest hit due to the fragmented tax structure across the federation and it is time now to expedite NTC’s establishment and work in this direction. Even when the system is finally harmonized, the GST should not be collected by multiple windows at federal and provincial levels. A unified tax return and collection should be made possible through online mechanisms.

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It will also be timely to think about which sectors should be motivated to scale up production and services in the face of this health-related emergency. Hospitals and private clinics operating at micro, small, and medium scale are primary candidates for cut in GST on services and even rationalization in direct tax rates. Firms producing personal protective equipment should also see a relief in taxes. The trade taxes faced by such producers or even hospitals importing from abroad need to be revisited. The agro-based and food processing enterprises will need similar help as their input supplies face price and supply volatilities.

Covid-19 also increased demand on several other sectors providing essential services. Our policy circles have rarely seen these sectors as important for the social and mental wellbeing of society until the pandemic struck. It will now be timely to recognize the services of firms (including schools) providing online services. The economic policy managers must think out of the box how best to leverage e-commerce in the battle against Covid-19. 

– Dr. Vaqar Ahmed is an economist and former civil servant. He is author of ‘Pakistan’s Agenda for Economic Reforms’ published by the Oxford University Press. Twitter: @vaqarahmed

Courtesy : ArabNews

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SadaPay to launch e-money services in Pakistan after Green Signal from SBP

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SadaPay has announced that it has been granted the in-principle approval by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license. This approval allows SadaPay to ready its operations for the pilot phase, during which the digital wallet will be available on a limited scale, under supervision of the regulator. 

The startup is founded by American serial entrepreneur Brandon Timinsky, who ventured to Pakistan after his last startup in the US was acquired. Over the last year, Timinsky has assembled a team of banking veterans, liaised with the regulatory authorities, and built the foundation for a “digital first” financial institution in Pakistan. Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, Pakistan’s former Finance Secretary, has joined SadaPay as Chairman of the Board.

Pakistan is now the 5th most populous country in the world, with over 76 million 3G/4G subscribers and nearly 1 million new smartphones users coming online every month. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, internet adoption is only accelerating and more people turn to digital solutions for everyday payments. This presents a tremendous opportunity for SadaPay not only in Pakistan, but also a number of other regional markets that the team hopes to expand to. 

“Sada” translates to “simple” in both Urdu and Arabic. SadaPay’s mission is to do away with the cost and complexities of traditional banking through their simplified digital-first experience. SadaPay offers a smartphone-based digital wallet accompanied by a free Mastercard debit card.

As soon as a SadaPay account is activated, a virtual debit card is provisioned for immediate use. Also, users can perform free and instant transfers to any bank in Pakistan, and withdraw cash from all of the 14,500+ domestic ATMs with no fees (3x per month). Furthermore, users can also load their account with cash at any of 30,000+ retail locations across the country.  

Speaking about the news on the approval, Brandon stated “It’s really amazing to see how committed the State Bank of Pakistan is to adapting to changes in consumer behavior and advances in technology. In the last few months alone, we’ve witnessed tremendous progress by SBP with the release of a number of new regulations that are certain to make an incredible impact on Pakistan’s economy by catalyzing the digitization of its financial system. We’re also very grateful for the support we’ve received from the Bank of Punjab and Mastercard, which will certainly spur our journey towards rapidly expanding financial inclusion in the country”

BRANDON TIMINSKY, FOUNDER OF SADAPAY

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Waqar said “The role the Central Bank is playing in laying the foundations of a broad-based and user friendly digital payment system in Pakistan is laudable. These efforts have gained momentum since last July. Pakistan would soon be a leading country in digitizing its payment system and SadaPay would play a prominent role to achieve this goal”.

DR. WAQAR MASOOD KHAN, CHAIRMAN OF SADAPAY

Early access to SadaPay will be available for those who have signed up for the waitlist through the website; www.sadapay.pk. SadaPay also has a very feedback-centric approach to their product development roadmap, and they’re also welcoming suggestions via email, hello@sadapay.pk.

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