Khurram is a technology entrepreneur and investor formerly based in Silicon Valley, now in Pakistan. He’s also a board member of the Plan9 Technology Incubator, visiting faculty for entrepreneurship at Information Technology University, adviser to the government of Punjab, and a securities trader. Find him on Twitter as @kayzafar
A new Pakistan-based startup, aimed at providing match-making services for over 33 million adult blue-collar workers in the country, has made its web and phone based service generally available for public. The company, Kamata Pakistan, also announced that it has secured commitments for $60,000 in seed financing that it managed to raise through friends, family and local investors after demonstrating good traction during its public beta period earlier this year.
“The existing blue-collar employment market is huge, but very inefficient as the job requirements are usually spread through word-of-mouth and personal, offline contacts. There is ample research on Pakistani labor market that has determined that the market will perform a lot better if the flow of information is increased; but the business model best suited to capitalize on this opportunity needed to be market-validated through an extended beta program, which we just concluded,” said Junaid Saleem, co-founder and CEO of Kamata Pakistan.
Kamata Pakistan has already registered over 5,000 job seekers – ranging from cooks, maids and drivers to skilled workers like electricians, welders and plumbers – during a geographically-limited public beta campaign and has signed strategic partnership agreements with several blue-collar training organizations that will contribute another 2,000 workers to its database soon. The partner organizations have committed to continue seeding the Kamata Pakistan database with its graduates on an on-going basis.
On the demand side, Kamata Pakistan has nearly 1,000 published blue-collar jobs already on its newly created online portal with minimal marketing thus far, and has already filled over 10 percent of those jobs.
Although the company has a web-based service like many white-collar job portals, that medium is primarily used by internet-savvy users for seeking prospective workers. Predominantly, both the supply-side and demand-side registrations take place through the company’s toll-free phone service. With over 70% mobile phone penetration in Pakistan, Junaid said that he is able to reach his market better this way.
Kamata Pakistan has already started generating revenue through its placement service and plans to add several value-added services to its portfolio to diversify the revenue stream further. Training and validation services as well as sponsored listings and candidate ratings will be among the first few service additions to the platform.
Inspiration, funding and local recognition
Junaid himself hails from Bahawalpur, a large but sparsely populated city in Southern Punjab, where the majority adult population works either in the agriculture sector or struggles to find blue-collar employment in far-flung cities. Although he himself managed to break that mold and got an MBA from LUMS, one of country’s most prestigious business schools, Junaid relied on the plight of blue-collar job seekers in Bahalwalpur for inspiration for his venture.
The idea for Kamata Pakistan was hashed out when Junaid reached out to his college buddy and a successful Pakistani serial entrepreneur Raza Saeed for initial funding. Raza saw the potential in the business and agreed to co-found and invest in the company. Since then, aside from securing over $60,000 in funding, Kamata Pakistan has won considerable recognition from the local tech and business community as well.
Earlier this year, the company won the best Pakistani startup award at the Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA) Launchpad. Kamata Pakistan was also shortlisted in an on-going Startup Cup Pakistan contest as one of the top 25 promising businesses based in Lahore.
Stimulating the investment culture in Pakistan
Raza Saeed, co-founder of Pakwheels.com, one of Pakistan’s largest internet companies said, “It’s time that local investors support promising startups so that they have the resources needed to grow into attractive deals for foreign investors. Inability of entrepreneurs to raise local money at reasonable valuations, unfortunately, results in the premature demise of a lot of promising startups in Pakistan. Thankfully, that is slowly changing, and there is an adequate deal flow in Pakistan now.”
Raza and Junaid further shared that their initial traction has attracted the attention of foreign social and impact focused venture capital funds and that they are in talks with at least one for a potential investment. They declined to name the fund until things mature further.
In a country like Pakistan, with rising population, unemployment and economic woes, Kamata Pakistan’s slogan of ‘Ab Kamaye Ga Sara Pakistan’ (Now the whole of Pakistan shall earn) and the goal of becoming the single largest digital placement platform for over 33 million blue-collar job seekers, are welcome news and appreciated through various heartwarming testimonials on their web site from both the employers and job seekers alike.
So if you need a cook, nanny or even temporary office staff in or from Pakistan, worry no more. Contact Kamata Pakistan through their web site or Pakistan based toll-free number 0800-11582 to source qualified and pre-screened candidates.
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