‘Pakistan is open for business’: PM Imran lauds Airlift achievement of securing $85m financing

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday welcomed the $85 million investment through Series B financing — the largest single private funding round in Pakistan’s history — in Airlift, a Lahore-based online shopping delivery service.

Series B financing is the second round of funding for a company that has met certain milestones and is past the initial startup stage.

“We welcome the recent investment of $85m by leading VCs (venture capitalists) of the world in Airlift, a company led by young Pakistanis,” he tweeted.

The premier said Pakistan had “huge potential” and was open for business, adding that the PTI government was “fully committed” to creating further opportunities.

Responding to the prime minister’s tweet, Airlift thanked him for bringing attention to the milestone, adding that it would pave the way for more investments in Pakistani startups.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also praised the achievement. He said he was “glad” to share that global investors were exhibiting confidence in Pakistan’s evolving technology space.

Azhar Mashwani, Punjab chief minister’s focal person for digital media, meanwhile, pointed out that investment in Pakistani startups had increased from $170m between 2015 and 2020 to $193m in 2021 alone.

“Best of luck to Airlift and all others,” he tweeted.

The $85m amount raised is around twice the size of the largest private company initial public offering in Pakistan’s history and the highest in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Airlift Technologies Co-founder and CEO Usman Gul said the financing would add five per cent to the country’s foreign direct investment for the fiscal year 2022.

“A year ago, Airlift halted operations on the transit service and diversified into last-mile grocery delivery. Today, our team closed $85m in Series B financing to scale our delivery platform across continents.

“With this financing, we as Pakistanis must return to where we started from fighting against the odds and staying true to our core values of hustle, teamwork, resourcefulness, and bias to action. If this is the journey of a thousand miles, we have taken only the first step,” he said.