In Pakistan, technology is playing a crucial role in bridging the gap and empowering young individuals from poor pockets of society to create better livelihoods for themselves. Innovative solutions are providing these youths with tools and skills to overcome challenges and build a brighter future.
Have you ever imagined that the kid who sits in the back of the class, seemingly dozing off, might be worth millions? Well, that’s precisely what’s happening in Pakistan right now.
According to Noman Ahmed, the CEO of Si Global, thanks to advances in technology, people from all walks of life are becoming millionaires in Pakistan. Pakistan is seeing an increase in new millionaires not because of, but in spite of, its lack of technological advancement. There are a number of factors at play, but one of the most important is the growing number of Pakistanis who are engaged in tech-related activities.
Speaking to the Express Tribune, Daraz Pakistan’s Managing Director, Ehsan Saya believes that eCommerce is one of the great equalisers in the online opportunities today. “You do not need substantial capital to sell online. You need access to the internet, a phone or computer, and lots of grit, integrity, drive, and hustle. Online jobs and businesses have emerged as a viable alternative for individuals during these challenging times. Pakistan has a large pool of young, educated, and tech-savvy individuals who are now utilising their skills and expertise to work remotely as freelancers or run their own online businesses. This allows them the freedom to earn a livelihood from the comfort of their homes, within schedules that suit their lifestyles,” he said.
Currently, approximately 100,000 sellers are registered on the platform from all over Pakistan. In the last three years, the average income of sellers has increased by 70%, he said. This can be attributed to several factors, including increasing penetration of smartphones and the internet.
“And what’s even more impressive is that this wealth is being generated from some of the poorest parts of the country,” said the Si Global CEO. For example, the city of Hyderabad has seen a surge in new millionaires, with many coming from traditional backgrounds such as farming and livestock. Similarly, Lahore has also seen a surge in new entrepreneurs, many of whom are self-made billionaires, he explained.
The younger population that understands the benefit of selling online – i.e., the ability to reach your customers in any corner of Pakistan – are making data-driven decisions to increase sales. The greatest benefit of working online is that one can easily learn new skills or upskill through numerous resources available on the internet.
Recognising the potential of Pakistan’s young population, Daraz University was launched in 2018 to provide entrepreneurial education across the country, regardless of location. The virtual university offers courses that educate sellers about every step of setting up their businesses. Every month, approximately 5,000 sellers are educated.
The rise of tech-enabled millionaires, emerging from the impoverished sections of society, has the potential to reshape the country’s political landscape as well. Once they are freed from the burden of basic needs such as putting food on the table, their participation in politics could bring about positive change, liberating the country from the grip of a small elite class.
“For starters, it’s important to understand that technology is not a panacea. Sure, it can help with things like communication and transportation. But it’s also important to remember that technology doesn’t always work the way we want it to,” said Ahmed. There are glitches, breakdowns, and periods of time when people just can’t afford to keep up with the latest and greatest gadgets.
Access to technology and the internet also remains limited in many parts of Pakistan, particularly in rural areas. Additionally, many individuals lack the skills and education to take advantage of such opportunities.
To address these challenges, it is important for government and private organisations to work together to invest, expand access to technology and provide training to individuals who want to take advantage of these opportunities. “With more and more people lifting themselves into the ranks of the middle class, Pakistan is sure to see an uptick in economic growth,” said the Si Global CEO.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2023.
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