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Eyeing international expansion, Pakistani startup Airlift secures $85m financing

Pakistani startup Airlift raises $85 million Series B financing.
Plans to expand operations to 15 Pakistani cities and eventually internationally.
“Our team closed $85m in Series B financing to scale our delivery platform across continents,” says CEO Usman Gul.

LAHORE: In a major development, Pakistani startup Airlift has secured $85 million Series B financing with an aim to expand internationally, the firm said in a press statement.

A pioneer in the recent wave of technology businesses, Airlift Technologies was started in Pakistan by local entrepreneurs for local populations in the recent wave of technology businesses.

According to a Techcrunch report, Airlift operates a quick commerce service in eight cities including Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad in Pakistan. Users can order groceries, fresh produce, other essential items including medicines as well as sports goods from the Airlift website or app and have the items delivered to them in 30 minutes.

“Today, Airlift is announcing an $85 Million Series B financing led by some of the most iconic investors on the globe. Airlift’s $85m Series B financing marks the largest in the MENA region, co-led by Josh Buckley (Buckley Ventures) and Harry Stebbings (20VC),” the statement said.

Other major participants included Sam Altman (ex-President YCombinator), Biz Stone (Co-founder at Twitter/Medium), Jeffrey Katzenberg (ex-CEO, Disney), Taavet Hinrikus (Founder/CEO at TransferWise), and Seve Pagliuca (Co-Chairman, Bain Capital).

The financing is about twice the size of the largest private company IPO in Pakistan’s history and the highest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The firm said that the development would bring world-class investors to invest in Pakistan and would garner confidence that great technology and consumer products can be built in Pakistan.

“Airlift Express alone with its series B funding of $85 Million has added 5% to Pakistan’s FDI for the Fiscal year 2021. This financing round lays the foundations of a new dawn in Pakistan where technology startups alone can contribute to more than 10% of FDI in the upcoming years,” it added.

Speaking on the occasion, Usman Gul, Co-Founder and CEO of Airlift said that a year ago, Airlift halted operations on the transit service and diversified into last-mile grocery delivery.

“Today, our team closed $85m in Series B financing to scale our delivery platform across continents. With this financing, we as Pakistanis must return to where we started from — fighting against the odds and staying true to our core values of hustle, teamwork, resourcefulness, and bias to action. If this is the journey of a thousand miles, we have taken only the first step.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has reported that the fund raised by Airlift is equal to the entire amount raised by Pakistani startups in the first half of the year. “It also eclipses the largest initial public offering by the nation’s private sector,” the report adds.

It added that the company now plans to expand its operations to 15 Pakistani cities by Dec 2021 and also increasing its core workforce to 400 by the end of next year.

Ahmed Mukhtar Naqshbandi

Media person and communication expert for over 25 years. Worked with Dow Jones News, World Bank, CNBC Pakistan, Aaj TV, ARY TV, Abbtakk TV, Business Recorder, Pakistan Observer, Online News Network, TTI Magazine and other local and world Publications.

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