Real innovation comes from a variety of sources. It usually starts off small, slowly building its reputation even before it officially launches. It’s not just tech startups, it’s food, education, and social entrepreneurial ventures that are paving the way in the 21st century using the cutting-edge technology built in the late 20th century. Most of the time, these technology breakthroughs are from the West. However, developing countries are slowly catching up due to the Internet. Here are some of the most impactful startups to keep an eye on in the coming years from Pakistan.
Online food delivery is a staple in many areas. But for some countries it’s not easy for restaurants to get online to take orders. Some may not have the technology to do it while others may not understand how. FoodPanda helps local restaurants get deliveries from customers online in 28 countries across Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The concept is simple. Customers choose from a variety of restaurants in their area that have affiliated themselves with the FoodPanda network. They order what they want from the online menu provided, pay, and then they are given a delivery time. It’s the kind of convenience that the U.S, Canada, U.K and other have come to expect but now, it’s going global. So far, the company has over 700,000 Facebook fans and growing and they’ve been making some key acquisitions to expand their global reach. They are definitely a company to watch.
Thanks to a simple idea and a working collaboration with Microsoft’s incubation program in Pakistan, there is now a place where events around the country can be seen by a broader audience. KiaSceneHai is Pakistan’s first event discovery site portal where people can learn about quality events happening in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad, three of the country’s most event-driven cities. This site fills the gap that prevented quality events for getting the publicity they need. It’s not just about parties; it’s about getting the word out about seminars, conferences and even exhibitions. Event managers can submit their event details by just filling out a form. If someone sees an event that’s not listed, they can even upload the information and share with everyone. For those who want up-to-date information on the happenings in their city, they can sign up to receive text messages or emails.
Before it’s even really gotten started, Boondh has made a name for itself. In 2013, the company won the Prime Minister’s US$1 million Hult Prize in Dubai for Social Entrepreneurship and they even won the Coca Cola Entrepreneurial Exchange program. Their mission is to make sure that the underprivileged areas in Pakistan get access to clean drinking water. Their product called SEEP uses solar energy to purify contaminated water, reducing the risk of water-borne illnesses, which kills over a quarter of a million children under the age of five each year.
When it comes to finding opportunities for low-skilled workers that objective has never been a priority for any business until now. Odd Jobber is a program that gives those workers the opportunity to get in on work opportunities. An opportunity comes up, the worker is alerted, he puts in his bid and employers choose. This gives the worker more opportunity to make the money he needs for his family and the employer to choose the best fit. This unique value proposition made it to the top 15 start-ups in the world and has a seasoned panel of advisors with skills in Strategic Development, Customer Development, and Innovation from the U.S. and Pakistan. Being able to properly support themselves and their families is what most, if not all, low-skilled workers want and need.
According to UNICEF, the overall literacy rate for youth ages 15 to 24 is close to 80 percent. However, for those between ages 5 and 16, the numbers tell a different story. Nearly two-thirds of these children cannot read a simple story despite attending school. Reading Room Project, RRP, provides online content to students that not only helps them to read but provides the tools for them to be able to educate themselves for the rest of their lives. By learning how to read and how to learn, students are less likely to drop out of school. By furthering their education, they’re able to see the world from a different perspective and even recognize opportunities that can help them go even further. Through the implementation of educational technology, the story of many Pakistani children can be much different. Right now the RRP is in the pilot stages, so it is free and they are currently accepting applications for developers and facilitators.
5 promising startups from Pakistan
Reviewed by Aamir Pathan