ISLAMABAD Reuters -- Pakistan's largest e-commerce platform Daraz aims to host up to 300,000 small to medium enterprises SMEs in two years, as the firm seeks to strengthen its position in its home market in the face of potential competition from global giant Amazon, according to its CEO.
E-commerce growth in the country of 220 million is yet to take off fully, like in neighbouring India, where retail heavyweights such as Amazon and Walmart and large local platforms are run by India's Reliance and Tata groups.
Daraz, founded in Pakistan in 2012 and acquired by Chinese giant Alibaba in 2018, has 100,000 SMEs in Pakistan on its platform.
A million jobs will be created by the fact that we want to get to 300,000 active and educated SMEs selling on our platform in the next two years, according to CEO Bjarke Mikkelsen in an interview on Wednesday.
Before the interview, Mikkelsen met Prime Minister Imran Khan and his finance and investment teams to discuss coordination on free zones where tech companies would get special incentives to flourish, and an e-commerce university Khan said Pakistan will be opening.
In four other South Asian nations - Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Mayanmar - Daraz has access to 500 million customers with a team of 10,000 employees. Mikkelsen said that it has invested $100 million in Pakistan and Bangladesh over the last two years.
He said that the platform has seen 100% order growth year-on-year in the last four years and is targeting sales of nearly $1 billion this year.
Commerce ministry data shows that Pakistan's e-commerce sector grew by more than 35% in the first quarter of 2021 to 96 billion Pakistani rupees $548.89 million, compared to 71 billion $405.95 million in the same period last year.
35 million people came from Pakistan, out of 70 million users who visited the Daraz website last month. Mikkelsen said that Pakistan was seeing more people ready to use digital services.
He said that e-commerce in the South Asian nations, where Daraz operates, was only 2% of the retail market, which could be scaled up 10 to 20 times.