At defy, we believe that special companies can be born anywhere. “Special” is the exact word that came to mind 10 minutes into our first meeting with Hamza and Saad as they pitched Bazaar. Their vision to build a lighthouse company in Pakistan, one that attracts top talent to help accelerate the digital transformation of the country and creates seedlings of innovation was inspiring. Their grand vision constructed with extreme detail orientation, along with their clarity of thought, complementary skill sets and a firm grasp on numbers and levers within the business left us with the conviction that this team will build a generational company in the region.
Bazaar is building the operating system for traditional retail in Pakistan. They provide the tools and infrastructure for the millions of merchants that power over 70% of the local retail economy. When we led Bazaar’s Series A seven months ago, Bazaar had just launched their B2B ecommerce marketplace operations in its second city and were just rolling out their second product, Easy Khata. Since then, they have grown to nearly two dozen cities and towns across the country, covering ~30% of the population and are adding 3–4 per month. This puts them on track to have the largest tech-enabled footprint in the country by end of year. Easy Khata has now onboarded 2.4 million businesses, helping them track over $10 billion in annualized bookkeeping, and Bazaar’s new Credit product is providing much needed short-term capital to an un- and under-banked merchant base. While the Bazaar team is proving they can build a company that scales, they are equally intentional about scaling their workforce, and in turn the Pakistan technology ecosystem. The company is investing heavily in the ongoing upskilling and development of its employees with regular programming, masterclasses, targeted mentorship and year-round training to ensure that the future of the company, and country, is built today.
In Pakistan, we saw an opportunity to be a part of a generational shift with Bazaar at the forefront of that transformation. Pakistan has the world’s 5th largest population, 8th largest mobile citizenry, 9th largest internet population and is expected to rise from the 14th to the 7th largest consumer market by the turn of the decade. Despite all of this Pakistani startups managed to raise just $66Mn in 2020 — less than 0.03% of the VC dollars deployed globally. Innovation, grit and inspired action is not bound by geographical constraints, but, unfortunately, access to capital historically has been. As support — monetary and other — flows into this ecosystem we see many industries and sectors undergoing huge digital transformations and companies, similar to Bazaar, will sprout that will rival those anywhere else in the world. Thankfully the world is starting to take notice as 2021 investments quintupled that of 2020 and 2022 is off to a strong start.
Today I’m excited to announce that Bazaar has raised a $70Mn Series B co-led by Tiger Global and Dragoneer. It’s been amazing to see this leadership team and company grow at the blistering pace they have over the past few quarters. We’re delighted to double down in this round and continue on this journey alongside John, Christian, Bilal and the rest of Team Bazaar.
Kamil, and the defy team