MARCH 29, KUALA LUMPUR – Gobi Partners, a regional venture capital firm with over US$1.1 B in assets under management (AUM), has partnered with Pakistan based Fatima Ventures to launch a US$20 M fund dedicated to supporting early stage technology companies in Pakistan.
The announcement of the Fund was made at the Pakistan-Malaysia Business and Investment Roundtable held in Islamabad on 22 March 2019, which was attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad.
The Fund will be co-managed by Fatima Ventures, the investing arm of Fatima Group, one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Pakistan. Founded and helmed by Ali Mukhtar, Fatima Ventures has thus far invested in five local startups, and has partnered with Lahore University of Management Sciences to set up the largest tech incubation center in Lahore (NIC Lahore).
The Fund will focus on Seed and Series A investments in technology enabled businesses that address current pain points in one of the fastest growing emerging markets globally. Target sectors include travel, logistics, fintech, healthcare, education, e-commerce, consumer tech, industrial internet and Taqwatech, an investment vertical that targets innovative start-ups 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.”
Gobi’s Chairman and Founding Partner Thomas G. Tsao added, “Pakistan is the second largest Muslim market in the world and is at the center of a US$200 B 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.