Launch of Pakistan’s Startup Ecosystem Report 2019

Invest2Innovate in collaboration with The World Bank launched the 2019 Startup Ecosystem Report at Nest I/O’s 021 Disrupt Conference in Karachi Sunday, November 3rd. The report, which was done via the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi of World Bank), provides a comprehensive analysis of the startup landscape with a finance, regulatory, and gender lens, looking at all the major stakeholders in the digital entrepreneurship space.

The findings of the report are based on secondary research and primary information collected from four groups of stakeholders (a total of 161 different individuals): digital entrepreneurs, investors, intermediaries, and individuals advocating for policy reforms. Additionally, the report also includes an analysis of data collected on deal flow from 2015-2019 (with a focus on 2018-2019) in the country to identify important trends and challenges on that front.

Some of the findings from the report dive into the early-stage capital gap for digital startups, discrepancies in funding raised by women entrepreneurs when compared to their male counterparts, and complexities to navigate the tax regime by both investors and entrepreneurs. The report also compares Pakistan’s digital entrepreneurship ecosystem with other benchmark countries to provide an overview of where the country stands, where it is headed and what key learnings have been seen so far.

The report provides critical insights from various stakeholders in the ecosystem. “According to most stakeholders, especially investors who were interviewed for this study, many incubators are focused too much on the number of startups they graduate versus the increased quality of their companies.” In fact, the analysis of women entrepreneurship in Pakistan has not been conducted in as much detail before. “Out of 96 deals that occurred between 2015-19, only 24 dealt into companies led by women; i.e., 24%. Only 4% ($6 million) of the total amount raised from 2015-2019 (which was approximately $154 million) went to women-led businesses.”

Moreover, last month, the report was workshopped during a roundtable session held at the World Bank Office in Islamabad. The discussions included some key stakeholders in the ecosystem who provided instrumental feedback, specifically in the tax policy section.

i2i also plans to release a Report Insights Newsletter to provide a brief overview of the key findings and highlight the most relevant figures for the general public. Along with the newsletter, the i2i team plans on conducting a webinar session with online readers to improve understanding of the analysis and allow for the application of recommendations i.e. for policy advocates or business support intermediaries. Some of the key recommendations included; improving the regulatory environment to help startups and investors, increasing access to capital for early-stage startups and incorporating best practices to provide more gender-equitable access to funding.

You can download the complete report here. Also check out the i2i newsletter for a quick, bite-sized overview of the report. Follow the hashtags #PSER2019 #i2iWBreportlaunch for snippets from the report on social media.

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