What inspired you to explore online connectivity as a serious career?
Iâ€™m passionate about creating scalable positive impact and moving the needle for millions of people. The internet, through connected mobile devices, provides an ideal canvas for improving lives at scale.
â€œPakistan is transforming and leap-frogging many western countries. All it needs is bold imaginations and fearless entrepreneurs who take risk and make things happenâ€
When I moved back to Pakistan in 2003 from Silicon Valley, I saw the tremendous potential online connectivity was about to bring as a positive disruptor. With massive investment in telecommunications infrastructure made fifteen years ago, itâ€™s no surprise that today we have sixty million people in Pakistan with smartphones and high-speed internet access. Thatâ€™s 60% of the countryâ€™s adult population. I saw the potential of internet in Pakistan when few took it seriously and thus, invested my career in it. Iâ€™m passionate about digitising key use cases to maximise scalable impact.
ROZEE has had a considerable impact on the job market. Tell us about that.
Pakistan has one of the fastest growing middle classes in the world, who are now all online. My jobs platform,Â ROZEE.PK, is used by over nine million Pakistanis to find jobs. Over sixty-five thousand employers post jobs and receive more than forty thousand job applications a day through this platform.Â ROZEE.PKÂ has helped over one million people find jobs, which has had a ripple effect in improving the lives of people around them.
Youâ€™ve been involved in multiple other projects. Can you walk us through those?
After the State Bank of Pakistan formally launched branchless banking regulation, I saw an opportunity to financially include those who didnâ€™t have bank accounts into the economy. This was when I co-founded Finja, which has partnered with Finca Microfinance Bank to launch SimSim, Pakistanâ€™s first one-minute digital bank account. Through SimSim, anyone with an ID card can open a bank account in about one minute â€” a huge contrast from the two-week long traditional process. SimSim has over three hundred thousand customers sending money to each other with zero transaction fees.
As someone who hates carrying cash and standing in lines, I also built EasyTickets.pk to digitise ticketing. EasyTickets lets you buy movie, bus and event tickets on your mobile phone. The convenience is addictive.
Looking back, how does the impact your businesses have made make you feel?
Iâ€™m proud to have helped over a million people find jobs in just a decade. Several hundred thousand others have found financial inclusion through the mobile bank accounts, so itâ€™s been pretty rewarding. Our digital ticketing platform gives direct access to consumers allowing business models that werenâ€™t viable previously to evolve. Pakistan is transforming and leap-frogging many western countries. All it needs is bold imaginations and fearless entrepreneurs who take risk and make things happen.
What was your childhood like?
My father worked with the United Nations while I was growing up, which gave me the opportunity to live in many different countries. I greatly value the diversity that I was exposed to. I did my middle school from Saudi Arabia and then moved back to Pakistan, where I was enrolled at the Karachi American School. My undergrad was in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I did graduate studies at Stanford, while working at Intel in Silicon Valley.
Photography: Raza Ali