Pakistan’s i2i Ventures launches $15m first fund, invests in Mauqa Online

The VC is led by Kalsoom Lakhani (right) and Misbah Naqvi (left)

Pakistan’s invest2innovate (i2i) Ventures is launching its first $15-million fund in the country. It is also making its first investment in Mauqa Online, an Islamabad-based startup offering domestic help services.

i2i Ventures is Pakistan’s first female-founded institutional fund investing in Pakistani entrepreneurs. The VC is led by Kalsoom Lakhani and Misbah Naqvi, former investors and entrepreneurs with global experience in fintech, impact and social investing.

The fund is anchored by The Dutch Good Growth Fund’s “Investment Fund Local SMEs” (DGGF), a Dutch government fund-of-funds supporting frontier markets such as South Sudan, Nepal and Afghanistan. Other investors include high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) from the United States, East Asia and the Middle East.

i2i Ventures has declined to disclose how much it has raised in capital commitments so far. The VC firm, however, was previously aiming for a first close of $1-$1.2 million by end-2018.

i2i Ventures is built off the back of invest2innovate (i2i), Pakistan’s first startup accelerator. The 4-month programme has graduated a total of 41 startups since 2012, with an average of about 5-8 startups per cohort.

In an email interview with DealStreetAsia, i2i Ventures said it invests in startups across the accelerator (pre-seed) to Series A stage. Its ticket sizes are $50,000-$70,000 for the accelerator/pre-seed stage. The top 1-2 companies that graduate receive an investment of about $150,000, while those in pre-Series A and above receive between $500,000-$1 million.

“We have seen many startups in this market struggle with scale as they haven’t had the right partners and investors at the outset. We are committed to investing in Pakistani tech entrepreneurs at the seed level and supporting them as they grow their business and raise funding for post-seed and Series A rounds,” said Misbah Naqvi, co-founder and managing partner of i2i Ventures.

In a statement, i2i Ventures also announced that it is leading a six-figure seed investment in Mauqa Online, an Islamabad-based startup offering on-demand domestic help services on its platform. Karavan Partners also joined Mauqa’s seed round.

Mauqa Online is i2i Ventures’ first investment, and expects another five companies to join its portfolio in the next 18 months.

“As the fifth largest market in the world with a young population, rising consumer class and increasing smartphone penetration, Pakistan presents tremendous investment opportunities,” said Kalsoom Lakhani, co-founder and partner of i2i Ventures and founder/CEO of Invest2Innovate.

“Having operated in the region and industry for more than 8 years, it’s clear that the market is ripe for a founder-focused fund like i2i Ventures where shared goals, trust and open communication are deeply embedded into the investment strategy,” added Lakhani.

i2i Ventures is one of a few emerging VCs in Pakistan.

Last week, Sarmayacar, another Pakistan-focused VC, announced that it received $2.5 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The investment marks IFC’s foray into Pakistan’s venture ecosystem, and bourgeoning interest in the South Asian market.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.