Recently dubbed ‘the next big thing’ in Asia with restored investor confidence, favourable conditions for private sector growth[1] and a plethora of talented engineers, the country’s burgeoning startup community is emerging as the world’s next tech hotspot.

A vibrant middle class is rising in Pakistan, home to more than 180M people, of which 60% are aged between 15 and 45[2]. With just under 18M internet users, 15 million mobile users and the recent deployment of 3G networks across the country, internet usage and smartphone penetration is set to surge[3], particularly amongst the country’s tech-hungry youngsters[4].

Young Pakistani entrepreneurs are attracting attention from the global tech scene by designing popular smartphone apps and software, marked by dozens of startups in Islamabad and Lahore with growing numbers in Karachi and KPK. Supporting these fledgling companies are business incubators including DYL Ventures, Invest2Innovate, and Plan 9 who offer resources, marketing and funding. Co-working spaces such as Dot Zero in Karachi and Peshawar’s Basecamp nurture collaborative, dynamic communities alongside startup weekends and civic hackathons. The country’s educational institutions are rearing a new generation of tech entrepreneurs and engineers, from FAST-NU, NUST in Islamabad, the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering and the Suleman Dawood School of Business at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) to the IBA in Karachi.

Aiming to galvanize sustainable, high growth and high-impact social ventures in the country, LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship (LCE) has just launched their business incubator The Foundation, raising a sizeable seed-stage investment fund for startups and coordinating the development of a network of co-working ‘Plug N Play Centers’.

The internet, advancements in technology plus new-age marketing and distribution mediums are placing entrepreneurs across the globe on equal footing and reducing the cost of starting a new business. With a little support, mentoring and capital, it’s no more inconceivable for young, passionate and innovative entrepreneurs to build a thriving global business right here in Pakistan. The country also boasts South Asian region’s most liberal investment policy, allowing 100% equity ownership and full repatriation of capital.

Co-founder of DYL Ventures, Adam Dawood has been instrumental in Pakistan’s startup scene over the past 12 months, having worked at Rocket Internet prior to establishing the tech incubator. “Right now is the perfect time for investors to look towards Pakistan as a lucrative online market on the verge of expanding exponentially,” says Adam. “Most markets are still uncontested in these early stages of development and 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 spending online.”

SOURCE:
[1] http://www.worldfolio.co.uk/region/asia/pakistan/mohammad-zubair-minister-of-state-of-privatization-pakistan-n2880
[2] The middle class has grown by 36.5% since 1990 and now stands at 30M.
– Worldfolio / Times 30/4/14 http://www.worldfolio.co.uk/archivos/1398764667.pdf
[3] The 3G auction is expected to grow the broadband subscriber base to between 25-45M by 2020. http://www.plumconsulting.co.uk/pdfs/Plum_Aug2013_Pakistan_3G.pdf
[4] http://dyl-ventures.com/pakistan-internet-stats/

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