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Top CEOs in Pakistan – 2019

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It’s an arduous task identifying and filtering the final list due to many factors. There is no hard and fast rule, but we do our best to select those CEOs who have done great work in their respective fields. There are some who are appear more than one occasion and that is testimony to their efforts in pushing the boundaries at what they do. As always, some names may have been missed and we invite feedback on the list as well as additions for the future.

MUNEEB MAAYR

A University of Virginia graduate, Muneeb seems to relish opportunities at scaling companies. After nearly a decade growing SNL Financial in Pakistan to over 600 employees, he founded what is now known as Tehzeeb which was acquired by Rahat Bakers. More recently he has co-founded Daraz.pk and Bykea. His latest endeavour, Bykea, recently raised an impressive $5.7 million Series A investment.

JAVED AFRIDI – HAIER

Afridi is a regular of PakWired.com Top CEO list for his continuous efforts within household name Haier and his other projects. He owns the Peshawar Zalmi cricket franchise which includes the Zalmi Foundation – a non-profit organisation focusing on welfare projects. If that wasn’t enough, the Chinese Ambassador, Mr Sun Wei Dong, has honoured Afridi for an outstanding Peshawar Zalmi contribution to the world of sports, with the ‘Friendship Ambassador’ for Pak China.

MUHAMMAD ALI TABBA – LUCKY CEMENT

Tabba makes it to the list for the first time and has a wealth of business experience and is regarded by some as the power behind the expansion of Lucky Cement, which is a part of YBG group. The expansion includes a foray into chemicals and a great partnership with KIA motors which saw the manufacture of KIA vehicles and parts in Pakistan. He was also identified as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010, and a received Sitara-e-Imtiaz by the Pakistani Government in 2018.Mr Tabba is also Vice Chairman of the Aziz Tabba Foundation, a non-profit organisation which runs two state-of-the-art hospitals in Karachi.

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ZEESHAN ALI KHAN – ZAMEEN.COM

Zeeshan Ali Khan, who has a Masters in Chemical Engineering, founded Zameen.com with his brother in a bid to provide Pakistanis a service that was non-existent at the time. Zeeshan went on to co-found Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG), of which Zameen.com is a part along with companies in 8 other countries in the MENA and South Asia region. Zameen.com is the largest property portal in Pakistan, with around 2,000 employees and presence in over 40 cities across the country. The portal has seen 4 rounds of investment, and aside from linking property sellers with buyers, it regularly organises expos and is the largest real estate sales and marketing company in the country. Among EMPG’s portfolio are UAE’s Bayut.com, Bangladesh’s Bproperty.com, and Mubawab in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

MAHEEN REHMAN – AL FALAH GHP INVESTMENT

Maheen, a graduate from LUMS, followed by a M.Sc. in Finance and Economics from the UK has made a name for herself in the finance sector. Prior to Al Falah, Rehman has served at Merrill Lynch and IGI funds in 2009 as CEO where under her management the assets grew by a massive two hundred per cent. Al Falah GHP Investment Management Ltd acquired the company, where she now serves her current role.

SHAMOON SULTAN – KHAADI

Sultan who graduated at Indus Valley in weaving. After working with the likes of Noorjehan Bilgrami, wanted to bring something unique to the market – the result is what we see today. Khaadi shows no signs of slowing down their exponential growth.Khaadi has a high standard in their stores, coupled with aesthetically pleasing decor, provide their customers with a pleasant shopping experience. Pricing their products reasonably has also been a major factor in their growth.

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GIA FAROOQI – ROSHNI RIDES

Gia leads Roshni Rides (RR), a car pooling platform created to make female riders feel safe during their travels. RR won the Hult Prize in 2017 beating a whopping 100,000 applicants, also bagging a cool $1 mn in the process. Gia graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelors in Supply Chain Management and has delivered talks at various conferences such as Momentum Tech Conference.

ZESHAN AFZAL – SHAHID AFRIDI FOUNDATION

 

A regular on our top CEO list, Afzal supports Shahid Afridi in the foundation which runs various projects such as hospitals, a schools initiative and water supply amongst other projects. Afzal has previously served as CEO at Peshawar Zalmi, Director at Stylo and KPMG. Currently Zeshan serves as President of Tech Pakistan and Director at Sadaqat Textile. He is also well known for his colour and creative pocket squares!

DR SARA SAEED KHURRAM – SEHAT KAHANI (START UP)

Dr Sara is founder and CEO of Sehat Kahani. Sehat Kahani scope includes tele-medicine, health education, health research and more. Because it is IT enabled, it ensures it is capitalising on the technology available to penetrate the intended user base. In 2018 it raised $500,000 in seed funding.Dr Sara is a qualified medical doctor and has previously co-founded the well known setup – Docthers. For her efforts she has received awards from Aptech, Unicef, and the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Award.

 

courtesy : Pakwired.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.

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

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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