Ecosystem

China’s Gobi Partners and Pakistan’s Fatima Ventures launch $20 million VC fund for early-stage Pakistani startups

Gobi Partners, a China-headquartered venture capital firm with big presence in Southeast Asia and over $1.1 billion of assets under its management is partnering with Pakistan-based Fatima Ventures that is investing arm of one of the largest conglomerates of the country Fatima Group to launch a $20 million fund to invest in early-stage technology startups in Pakistan, Gobi announced in a statement to MENAbytes.

The announcement of the fund was first made last month at the Pakistan-Malaysia Business and Investment Roundtable in Islamabad, which was attended by prime ministers of Pakistan and Malaysia. Gobi’s Jamaludin Bujang with Fatima Ventures’ Ali Mukhtar commemorating the partnership in the presence of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad.

The fund that will be co-manged by Gobi Partners and Fatima Ventures will focus on seed and Series A investments in tech startups of the country. Gobi Partners in a astatement said that the sectors they will be investing in include travel, logistics, fintech, healthcare, education, e-commerce, consumer tech, industrial internet and Taqwatech, an investment vertical that targets innovative startups offering products and services that cater for the global Muslim population.

Speaking on the launch of the fund, Gobi’s Managing Director Jamaludin Bujang, said, “Gobi began our ASEAN operations in Malaysia, and we have now ventured out of the region to other countries with potential, such as Pakistan. This is a nation that has all of the right ingredients to be one of the fastest-growing digital markets – it has a sizeable and young population, as well as a growing middle class, not to mention high Internet penetration, with about one million users going online every month. The country also has a high number of unbanked citizens which means that there is a lot of potential for FinTech startups in Pakistan.”

“We believe that the nation’s growth will mirror that of Indonesia, and as an early investor in that market, we have the insights and experience in seeking out successful business models which we can apply to the Pakistani ecosystem,” he added.

Gobi’s Chairman and Founding Partner Thomas G. Tsao, said, “Pakistan is the second largest Muslim market in the world and is at the center of a $200 billion Muslim digital market. It is increasingly evident to savvy investors that Muslims are one of the most powerful sets of consumer purchasers and there is an immense market opportunity as the communities’ digital needs are largely underserved.”

Fatima Ventures Founder and CEO Ali Mukhtar, said, “Pakistan is emerging, and we at Fatima want to help Pakistani entrepreneurs emerge with her. Through our partnership with Gobi, we will now be able to fully support and nurture early-stage companies and, when they are ready, we can help them to scale. Gobi’s region-wide network and wealth of experience together with Fatima’s large footprints and local expertise will also be a boost to the Pakistani entrepreneurial community.”

“For both Fatima and Gobi, the launch of the Fund not only means more funding options for Pakistani startups, but it will help to promote common values, the digitization of traditional industries, as well as further the inclusion of underserved communities as a whole,” Gobi Partners, said in a statement to MENAbytes.

Founded by Ali Mukhtar, Fatima Ventures has already made investments in five local startups and has also partnered with Lahore University of Management Sciences to set up, what it claims is the largest tech incubation center in Lahore (NIC Lahore).

Gobi Ventures had made their first investment in Pakistan last year by leading Karachi-based OTA SastaTicket’s $1.5 million Series A.

Last year, Sarmayacar, another VC fund for Pakistani startups had announced their first close of $30 million.

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Riyadh. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.

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