Macro Bites

Macro Bite # 58

2 min read

This week saw Airlift raise USD 85 million in its Series B funding, setting a new record for the largest-ever fund-raising round for a Pakistani start-up. In general, 2021 has been a good year for Pakistani start-ups, which have raised USD 101 million this year, eclipsing the record set last year of USD 66 million.

While this is undoubtedly promising news for our emerging economy, it still lags far behind amounts raised in other developing countries. Start-ups in India have raised USD 6.3 billion this year, while Latin American start-ups in the same time have raised USD 9.3 billion, making Pakistan’s USD 0.1 billion figure look like a mere rounding error.
Separately, it is also important to consider whether these record fund-raising rounds lead to tangible benefits for the employees upon whom these companies’ operations are based on. Around the world, workers in the gig economy have had serious complaints over precarious work conditions and low pay. Pakistan is no exception, with Foodpanda recently facing protests from riders, as well as restaurants, over their practices. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Airlift, which similarly operates in the food and grocery delivery market, has also faced complaints from riders over unreliable shift-timings and what they perceive as misleading claims about the amount of money that can be made by being a full-time rider. As we celebrate the influx of financing in Pakistan’s tech spaces, it is vital that we examine its implications for wider society, to ensure that the benefits are not just being accrued by those at the very top.



KSE-100 rose marginally this week, as relative stability in Afghanistan reassured investors. PKR depreciated slightly this week, as safe haven currencies such as USD and yen gained strength in global markets. Local gold prices fell further this week, due to a fall in international prices.

No Sensitive Price Index data this week on account of Ashura.

What Else We’re Reading (Local)

  • Pakistan’s fertiliser subsidy has seen it go from a net-importer of urea to an exporter. So, should the subsidy remain? (Profit)
  • After the success of the Sehat Sahulat health insurance program in KP, the PTI government is now rolling out the program in Punjab, Gilgit Baltistan and AJK. (Business Recorder)

What Else We’re Reading (International)

  • The Afghan Taliban now faces the challenge of running a state, but their funds will be heavily boosted by the country’s shadow economy. (FT)
  • OnlyFans, the social media service valued at USD 1 billion, has announced that it will prohibit most kinds of sexually-explicit content on its platform, drawing accusations of moral bias from adult performers and fans. (Bloomberg)


Asad Pabani

Journalist, researcher and documentary filmmaker. Prior works featured in Dawn, Soch Videos and Pioneers Post.

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