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Startups Like Bykea Can Make the Youth Bulge a Demographic Dividend

Pakistani motorbike-based ride hailing and logistics startup Bykea raises $5.7 million

BE2C2 Report – Pakistan currently has the largest population of youth ever recorded in its history. It is currently one of the youngest countries in the world and the second youngest in the South Asian region after Afghanistan. Out of the total population, 64 percent is below the age of 30, and 29 percent is between the age of 15-29 years. Many call it a demographic dividend (if harnessed) or a time bomb (if the ball is dropped).

The responsibility matrix however falls equally in the public and the private domain- notwithstanding general variations and state-sponsored public policy initiatives to handle the bulge. A mixed bag, thought-leaders say, could yield the best outcome. While youth unemployment in the country remains in the double digit- and double of overall average unemployment, Uber, Careem and most recently startups like Bykea seem to be making a difference in the major cities.

Their app has been downloaded by over 2 million users and over 200,000 ride-hailing and delivery partners (drivers)

Bykea, a technology platform for on-demand transport and related services, announced today that it has completed a $5.7 million financing package from Pakistan’s first VC fund Sarmaycar and institutional investors from South East Asia and for the Middle East. The announcement was made at the National Incubation Center Karachi (located within NED University of Engg & Tech)- Bykea is one of the Karachi center’s first members.

The unique startup was seed funded by a group of angel investors in a round led by Ithaca Capital who have made several pioneering venture capital investments in Pakistan. The financing outfit was founded by veterans from eCommerce and logistics, Muneeb Maayr (Co-Founder at Daraz.pk and Director Operations at SNL Pakistan), Abdul Mannan (formerly Rocket Internet), Ishaq Kothawala (Head Actuary at Pak-Qatar) and Rafiq Malik (formerly COO at TNT Logistics Pakistan).

Unlike Careem and Uber – both of which have motorbike ride-hailing options in some of these cities in Pakistan, Bykea’s user-friendly app is in Urdu

In addition, the company has received grants from USAID’s Small & Medium Enterprises Development Authority to help create jobs in the hospitality sector and the Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation for providing short term lending to enable motorbike owner operators with income opportunities.The latest financing Bykea has received, will be used to fund its expansion in the ride-sharing and express delivery, including cash to digital services for consumers and businesses in urban areas of Pakistan.

Bykea also allows users to book a ride or delivery by dialing in a number, not just WiFi

For many of us who didn’t know about Bykea, the startup enables a crowd-sourced network of motorbike owners to transport people and parcels allowing them to supplement their incomes while delivering cost-effective logistics solutions. Its cash on delivery technology enables real-time transactions in a nascent payments market thereby pioneering the development of e-commerce in Pakistan.The startup is also collaborating with the country’s leading telecom network Jazz on connecting customers with drivers using a simple dial-in mobile number 0307-1234567.

Bykea’s growth is good news for both consumers and the startup ecosystem in Pakistan. Even though the company doesn’t offer car ride-hailing service, it will continue to compete with some of Uber and Careem services who would’ve otherwise enjoyed a monopoly in Pakistan

Over two hundred thousand motorbike owners have installed the partner app to connect with over two million users in Karachi, Rawalpindi/Islamabad, and Lahore. Although available in English, the platform is mostly deployed in Urdu with voice notes to facilitate the use of technology by the broadest audience in their local language.

Going forward, Bykea intends to use funds from the new raise to continue to focus on increasing its driver network and provide new members income-generating opportunities in the transport, delivery and e-commerce space. The Company is also actively looking to fill roles within the organization as it expands its execution capabilities.Users can learn more and download the app by visiting here.

(BE2C2   Report is a data journalism initiative of Irshad Salim Associates, a New Jersey, USA, based consulting firm in association with BE2C2 in Pakistan