Zortal – Solving Pakistan’s Digital Gap

By Khurram Khalid Iqbal

Pakistan is the land of opportunities. According to worldometers report for 2022, we were the 5th most populated nation in the world, contributing to 2.83% of the world's population. 

All this population and yet we contribute only about 1.1% to the global GDP.

Over the past 10 years, the global economy has grown by over 35%. Pakistan's share of Global GDP in 2022 was 1.1% once allowances were made for base year and informal economy size.

This means there's a huge gap in the market that Pakistan can capitalize on, enabling their businesses through available resources like cheaper labor and operational costs.

Interestingly, Pakistan's GDP (PPP) stands at over $1.5 Trillion, whereas the nominal stands at $370 Billion.

Since Pakistan is already an undervalued market,  the upside is automatically very high, especially in times to come. 

You need $100M ARR to be a Unicorn, but in Pakistan, a startup with only $20-30M would already be providing the same value.

According to a McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, Pakistan can experience an increase in its GDP by a cumulative 7 percentage points (roughly US$ 36 billion) and create around 4 million new jobs up until 2025 via an increase in the use of digital financial services (DFS) alone.


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According to datareportal, Pakistan's internet user base increased from 82.90 million in Jan 2022 to 87.35 million in Jan 2023, a digital audience of 36.7% of its population. Here lies an untapped audience that can be introduced to Digital Financial Services, allowing for further growth.

The following numbers from the datareportal report clearly show great room to grow. But how does this help SMEs and the overall vision of "Digital Pakistan"?

The current SME structure of Pakistan is fairly conventional, with the use of little to no technology. Technology adoption faces major resistance to change due to internal and external factors. This includes technical and vocational training, a project already taken up by the Planning Commission of Pakistan. 

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In most countries, SMEs constitute more than 90% of all enterprises and significantly contribute towards inclusive economic growth.

According to Farid (2016), “SMEs account for 99 percent of over 3.2 million business enterprises in Pakistan and have 35 percent share in value addition; Pakistan’s SMEs undoubtedly have the potential to contribute considerably more than their current share of about $86 billion towards GDP”. Furthermore, according to Pakistan Today (2018), “SMEs contributed 30 percent to GDP, 25 percent to exports and 78 percent to industrial employment that showed their important role in the economic development of the country”.

In Pakistan, SMEs collectively contribute an estimated 40% to the GDP and over 40% to exports. 

Pakistan has a long-going list of family businesses that spans across generations, but an inability to adopt technology has caused them to not be able to mold themselves on a corporate mechanism, this keeps them from being truly global and competing with international players even while having unfair advantages of cheap labor.

Over the last decade, we have seen smartphones being adopted not just by the urban population but the rural segment of society as well, this has helped in minimizing the communication gap between both factions of society owing to the consumption of global content, the idea of digital enablement has made numerous family-owned businesses to decrease their effort by integrating different software products and increasing productivity.

These digital products not only enable the workforce to perform better but also allows better transparency and efficiency in work, with the ability to visualize KPIs at each stage, and take necessary action in a proactive manner rather being reactive when results start going south, businesses grow better and sustainable.

Where the list of digital solutions is endless, the problem at hand needs to be tackled with a localized demographic in mind, our audience is not as technically sound as the rest of the world and it is our duty to provide them with a solution that provides a frictionless experience. The cost-benefit analysis of these solutions needs to make sense for the common businessmen, who are hesitant about impact because of the high costs attached to these solutions.

Why do we think we can solve this problem? Because it comes after more than 1.5 years of on-ground experience with these businesses, engaging with these SMEs on a day-to-day basis, identifying exactly what the problem is, where it lies, and what needs to be done to solve it. 

What have we built that allows us to make these claims? We've built "Zortal"

How does it work? Zortal provides businesses with a frictionless onboarding experience and truly allows them to experience digital acts as a catalyst in their business growth.

Imagine, end-to-end business visibility at the click of a button, reducing reporting hours, tracking of non-productive hours, better financial analysis, and the power to make informed decisions about the company through a data-driven approach, all without selling an arm and leg to get this.

Zortal is customized for two audiences, our traders and our manufacturers.

Through Zortal businesses can get access to,

  • Order Management System including E-Commerce capability, this will allow them to put their business on the internet not in days but in a matter of minutes
  • Accounting solution, getting clear visibility of their financial standing, with detailed templates of automatically calculating their PnLs
  • Inventory Management Solution, maintaining their stocks present in multiple warehouses, tracking their movement and shelf-life to know how best to move them.
  • Field Service Booking App, your order bookers will no longer have to manually note down their orders and then write them on an internal notepad. Orders can be generated on a mobile app that directly places your orders for you, without delay.
  • Recovery App Solution, track your receivables on the go, schedule visits and maintain a log of each activity.
  • The manufacturing module is especially useful for getting visibility of production inefficiencies, wastage, time and material allocation, and more.
  • Customized solutions for your requirements, we're not an off-the-shelf solution and your need is what we build.


How does it really help?

The Planning Commission of Pakistan launched a report some months back, envisioning their goals to build a Digital Pakistan. In this report, the E-enablement of SMEs is a major category that needs to be resolved. By providing, Zaraye aids in the national interest of Pakistan and helps us achieve the UNSDGs in a smoother plan.

The Digital Pakistan Policy aims to achieve the UNSDGs and through Zortal we're contributing directly towards
SDG Goal 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
SDG Goal 11, Sustainable cities and communities
SDG Goal 12, Responsible consumption and production
SDG Goal 8, Decent work and economic growth

Zortal is not just a business solution, it is an end-to-end solution that enables the Digital Pakistan vision and enables SMEs to outperform themselves in global competition.




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