Pakistan’s Bykea raises $13 million for its on-demand transportation and logistics platform

Karachi-headuqartered on-demand transportation and logistics startup Bykea has raised $13 million in a Series B round, it announced in a statement to MENAbytes today. The investment was led by Prosus Ventures (formerly Naspers Ventures), one of the leading global tech investors. It is their first investment in a Pakistani startup. The round also included the participation of existing investors Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) and Sarmayacar, and takes Bykea’s total raise to $22 million, making it one of the best-funded startups of the country. It had raised $5.7 million in a Series A round last year.

Founded in 2017 by Muneeb Maayr, Abdul Mannan, Ishaq Kothawala, and Rafiq Malik, Bykea pioneered the concept of motorbike taxi in Pakistan and currently offers different types of transportation, logistics, and payments services, in Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi, using its network of over 30,000 active drivers. The drivers on Bykea’s network are freelancers and most of them work part-time with Bykea to make some extra money on top of their regular income.

The services that Bykea currently offers in addition to motrobike ride-hailing (which is its most popular offering) include deliveries (from Point A to B), on-demand delivery from a nearby store, utility bill payments, and mobile wallets top-up. The startup also has a section for classified on its app where it enables users to publish their products (or services) that can be delivered with the help of its network of drivers. All the services are offered through Bykea’s mobile app that is available in English and Urdu.

Bykea plans to use the latest funds to further expand into and grow ecommerce logistics, food, and payment services, in 2021. The startup will also use a part of the investment to expand to smaller cities where it says that international players have struggled to grow their English-language platforms.

Muneeb Maayr, the founder and CEO of Bykea, who previously also co-founded Rocket Internet’s Daraz (which was acquired by Alibaba in 2018) commenting on the occasion, said, “Bykea is one of the few internet businesses offering an interface in the Urdu language and we drive our competitive advantage from being highly localized. This approach has helped us become the preferred partner for part-time motorbike gig workers. Our brand is now widely used as a verb for bike taxi and 30-minute deliveries, and the fresh capital allows us to expand our network to solidify our leading position.”

The three cities that Bykea is active in have a combined population of 30 million. In a statement, the company said that public transportation is underserved in all three of them, “Motorbikes are the rails for distributors, couriers, ecommerce retailers and restaurants to move goods and collect receivables, almost entirely in cash in one of the least banked countries in the world. With 17 million two-wheelers in Pakistan; 4x the number of cars; Bykea offers millions of people the chance to earn an income by tapping into the tremendous opportunity in the country for both transport and hyperlocal commerce,” noted the statement.

Fahd Beg, the Chief Investment Officer at Prosus, said, “Pakistan is primed to experience extremely strong growth in internet services over the next decade, with a rapidly increasing middle class. This growth provides immense opportunity for companies like Bykea that are transforming big societal needs like transportation, logistics and payments through a technology-enabled platform. Bykea has already seen impressive traction in the country and with our investment will be able to execute further on their vision to become Pakistan’s ‘Super-App.”

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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