HK Asks: Is Pakistan the New Innovation Nation?

Did you know…

  • Pakistan is the 6th most populous country in the world, Karachi being the most populous city after Shanghai.
  • There are 4 million consumers entering the market every year.
  • The Pakistan Stock Exchange was ranked fifth best performing stock market in the world in the year 2016 by Bloomberg.

Thanks to rising investments in physical infrastructure, the most progressive government seen to date, and the birth of an effervescent entrepreneurial ecosystem, opportunities in Pakistan today are rife.

Recently, we brought together global investors and entrepreneurs to discuss opportunities in Pakistan in tech & venture capital, as well as in infrastructure & private equity.

Who was there?

  • Monis Rahman — Technology entrepreneur and angel investor
  • Farhan Faruqui — International Group Executive for ANZ
  • Sameer Chishty — Financial services venture builder between China and the US, investor & advisor in early stage FinTech companies, and investor in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor
  • Zach Karabell — President of River Twice Research. Author, historian, money manager and economist
Sameer Chishty, Farhan Faruqui, and Monis Rahman

Key Takeaways

  1. Pakistan is at a clear inflexion point in their growth, and a large part of that is thanks to China. As “Iron Brothers”, China and Pakistan have agreed on a series of infrastructure projects in energy, power, and transport that have a total value of USD 54 billion. This China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has been a massive game changer, allowing private companies to develop across this area and and leading to a massive growth in Pakistan’s FDI.
  2. Technologically speaking, the ecosystem is primed for digital. After joining 3G only a short three years ago, smartphone penetration is starting to blow up exponentially. There is particular interest around FinTech as right now only 15% of the population are banked. But with the recent digitisation of the National ID card and everyone from banks to the biryani seller on the street leveraging digital wallets, it’s clear that the behavioural transformation is happening, and it’s happening incredibly fast.
  3. The Chinese government recently invested 10.6 billion to address the energy crisis and regional imbalances in Pakistan, leading to the creation of 700,000 jobs, 3000 new Chinese organisations, and 2% addition to GDP growth. Where the Chinese government goes, private investment usually follows.
  4. Where to invest? Real estate for one, since we’re seeing 100% returns in one year. Education is another profitable sector to invest in because of the sheer population size. Currently 60% of Pakistan is under 30 which means there’s an incredible opportunity.
  5. One earner in the family is no longer enough and we’re seeing more and more women who are entering the workforce, breaking centuries of silent social norms. Some companies boast a 1:1 ratio and in many instances, female MBA graduates are even earning more than their male counterparts.


“The ecosystem has heated up — there are no dominant leaders in any vertical — it’s a Disneyland right now and the probability of you being tremendously successful is very high.”

“You’re 50x more likely to be murdered in St. Louis or 10x more likely to be killed in the car accident in the US versus a terrorist attack in Pakistan.”

What Next?

Want to learn more? Reach out to and we can connect you with the right people!