Singapore-based home services startup raises $1.1 million for Pakistan market

Singapore-based home services startup raises $1.1 million for Pakistan market
The picture posted on August 4, 2023, shows the interface of a Singapore-based home services startup, Helpp. ( Helpp/Facebook)
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Updated 17 November 2023
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Singapore-based home services startup raises $1.1 million for Pakistan market

Singapore-based home services startup raises $1.1 million for Pakistan market
  • The founding CEO of Helpp says first funding round was backed by high-net-worth investors from Saudi Arabia and the US
  • The startup provides on demand services in the salon, laundry, paint and air conditioning segments in Karachi and Lahore

KARACHI: Helpp, a Singapore-based home services startup, has raised $1.1 million for the Pakistan market in its first investment round backed by high-net-worth investors from Saudi Arabia and the United States, said the startup CEO on Friday.

The round has been backed by the US-based E Planet Global, Shahyan Merchant Chairman You Ventures, Turki Al Shehri, a Saudi investor, J Holding Pakistan and other leading individual high net worth and business executives from the US, United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, according to the startup.

“The funds raised through the first investment round would be utilized for customer acquisition and enhancement of tech stack,” Mustafa Iqbal, the founding CEO of Helpp Technologies, told Arab News.

“The funding round was substantially backed by Saudi high net worth investors,” he continued, adding that the startup would provide on demand salon, laundry, paint and air conditioning services in Pakistan’s biggest cities of Karachi and Lahore.

After launching its operations in 2021, Helpp became Pakistan’s first fully tech enabled player in the home services market that has met over 20,000 orders to date.

Pakistan’s home services despite being a multibillion-dollar industry remains serviced by micro-offline players. With a burgeoning middle class, customer satisfaction remains low, due to absence of standardized services and pricing, according to the startup.

Helpp aims to digitize this space, while not only solving the pain points of the consumers, but also elevating the incomes of the service providers.

Helpp’s impact footprint ranges from providing economic opportunities, income elevation and financial inclusion for its service providers, a majority of them being women.

“The objective is to build a budget brand which caters to the masses while maintaining a laser focus on customer experience and service partners’ economic empowerment,” Iqbal said.

Pakistan’s home service market seems ready for a nationwide tech player emulating the success in ride hailing, food delivery, grocery and e-commerce, he added.

Iqbal said his startup business was aligned with the UN sustainable development goals, contributing toward its targets for 2030.

Pakistani startups emerged on global funding radar in 2021 and raised around $375 million in a funding rush that was more than the overall funds raised in the previous six years.

The cumulative funding of Pakistani startups for 2023 stood at $33.6 million in the nine months of the current year, a mere 10 percent of the total funds raised in 2022, according to Alpha Beta Core, a startup funding advisory firm.


Imran Khan-backed MP elected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly speaker

Imran Khan-backed MP elected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly speaker
Updated 15 sec ago
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Imran Khan-backed MP elected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly speaker

Imran Khan-backed MP elected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly speaker
  • Babar Saleem Swati won 89 out of 106 votes against his rival who could only secure 17 votes
  • The PTI-backed lawmakers are on their way to set up KP government for third consecutive term

ISLAMABAD: Members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly elected a lawmaker backed by former prime minister Imran Khan as the new speaker on Thursday, giving him a decisive victory with 89 out of 106 total votes against his rival who could only get 17 votes.

The KP assembly held its inaugural session a day earlier in which its newly elected members were sworn in amid ruckus and protest.

Independent candidates backed by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party swept the provincial polls earlier this month by securing more than 90 out of 111 general seats on which the elections were held.

Since the PTI had lost its symbol in a legal battle right ahead of the electoral contest, its leadership decided to join the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) to form their government in the province for a third consecutive term.

Babar Saleem Swati, who became the custodian of the house, contested as the SIC candidate for the post.

“PTI’s Babar Saleem Swati has been elected speaker [KP] assembly by getting 89 votes,” Khan’s party exclaimed in a social media post accompanying Swati’s picture.

The SIC members later congratulated him for becoming the new speaker.

Today’s session of the provincial legislative body was also held under the speaker of the outgoing assembly Mushtaq Ghani.

The PTI-backed candidates also won more than 90 seats in the National Assembly while accusing the election authorities of changing results in a number of constituencies to compromise their mandate and benefit their political rivals.


Media bodies urge Pakistan top court to cancel committee probing anti-judges online campaign

Media bodies urge Pakistan top court to cancel committee probing anti-judges online campaign
Updated 42 min 7 sec ago
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Media bodies urge Pakistan top court to cancel committee probing anti-judges online campaign

Media bodies urge Pakistan top court to cancel committee probing anti-judges online campaign
  • Joint investigation team set up last month to “ascertain facts behind malicious social media campaign” against judges
  • Was formed after social media campaign unleashed following a Supreme Court judgment against Imran Khan’s party

ISLAMABAD: Media bodies including the Press Association of the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court Journalists Association have filed a joint petition requesting the top court to cancel a joint investigation team (JIT) probing a so-called social media campaign against judges in which many journalists have been served notices. 

The interior ministry set up a five-member joint investigation team last month to “ascertain facts behind a malicious social media campaign” against Supreme Court judges.

The panel was formed under Section 30 (power to investigate) of the controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016 and convened by the additional director general of the Federal Investiga­tion Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing. It was formed against the backdrop of a “smear campaign” that erupted on social media soon after a Jan. 13 Supreme Court judgment that upheld an Election Commission of Pakistan ruling to revoke the iconic electoral symbol, the cricket bat, of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The decision meant all candidates from the party had to run in Feb. 8 elections as independent candidates with different election symbols.

The petition filed by the journalists’ bodies said roving inquiries by the FIA, the appointment of the JIT and multitudinous summons with regards to vague allegations regarding a so-called “explicit and malicious campaign against Hon. Judges of Supreme Court of Pakistan” or “derogatory remarks against the Superior Judiciary of Pakistan” had a “chilling effect” and unreasonably restricted the right of free speech and information guaranteed under Article 19 and 19-A of the Constitution.

“It is, accordingly, an issue of public importance involving the enforcement of fundamental rights,” the petitioner submitted, arguing that the right to punish (or show forbearance in respect of) speech that scandalized the court or brought the court or a judge into hatred, ridicule or contempt vested exclusively with the apex court under Article 204 of the Constitution and the executive could not be allowed to usurp that discretion, as it infringed the doctrine of separation of powers. It said the power to punish the charge of scandalizing a judge or the judiciary, which the court itself so sparingly exercised, could not be handed over to the FIA to be used as and when it deemed fit.

A total of 65 notices had been issued to various persons, including more than 30 journalists, in at least 115 inquiries by the JIT in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Multan, Faisalabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Gilgit, Islamabad, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Dera Ismail Khan, Quetta and Gwadar. 

Pakistani anchorman Imran Riaz Khan was arrested from his house in Lahore last week over accusations he had participated in an anti-judiciary social media campaign. Another reporter Asad Ali Toor was also arrested on charges of orchestrating a campaign against the state and its officials, with the “objective to coerce, intimidate, and incite violence” against them through his social media platforms. In recent months, several of Toor’s posts and videos have been critical of government agencies, Pakistan’s military establishment and the Supreme Court.


Pakistan’s PM criticizes Imran Khan’s ‘irresponsible’ demand for election audit in IMF bailout letter

Pakistan’s PM criticizes Imran Khan’s ‘irresponsible’ demand for election audit in IMF bailout letter
Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistan’s PM criticizes Imran Khan’s ‘irresponsible’ demand for election audit in IMF bailout letter

Pakistan’s PM criticizes Imran Khan’s ‘irresponsible’ demand for election audit in IMF bailout letter
  • Prime Minister Kakar says there are proper forums in the country for the redressal of any election grievances
  • He says the letter has contradicted PTI’s own narrative that maintains Pakistan should not ‘surrender’ to the West

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Wednesday described Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s decision to send a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), asking it to ensure election audit before any discussion on financial bailouts for the country, as “highly irresponsible” and in contradiction to its overall political narrative.

Last week, a group of lawyers representing the PTI founding leader, Imran Khan, said he wanted to send a letter to the IMF after raising the allegations of rigging in the recent general elections in the country earlier this month.

The party revealed on Wednesday it had dispatched the letter to the international lending organization, asking it to link any financing for Pakistan to “good governance” and the audit of at least 30 national and provincial assembly seats.

Kakar expressed his displeasure over the development during an interview with a local news channel.

“This is highly irresponsible,” he told Samaa TV. “And I am making a very mild statement. Otherwise, one can use much harsher words in response to this.”

“In the caretaker government, the biggest challenge we faced was not only conducting elections but also to the revival of the economy, improvement in financial indicators and achieving our revenue targets,” he continued. “To an extent, we have met [all these objectives]. As a result, the IMF is negotiating with Pakistan positively.”

He said the country was now expecting a $6 billion deal with the international lender and could also get $2 billion more in climate finance deal.

The prime minister noted this was vital for the country’s economic health, adding that the financial plans of the future government also depended heavily on this.

“Whatever your views are regarding the electoral process, there are proper forums to express them,” he continued. “They are not the IMF.”

Kakar said the PTI leadership’s letter had also contradicted its own narrative which required the country not to “surrender” to Western power.

He maintained that Khan’s party had gone against that by seeking external intervention in the country.

However, predicted the letter would not have any major impact on Pakistan, though it would have a political cost for the PTI.

The IMF already refused to comment on the “ongoing political developments” in the country, saying it was willing to work with the new government.


Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest

Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest
Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest

Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest
  • An official statement says the militants were involved in violent activities against North Waziristan’s residents
  • The Pakistani security forces also recovered weapons, ammunition and explosives from the dead militants

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security forces killed six militants in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in the country’s northwest on Wednesday, saying they were involved in violent activities against the civilian population in the area.

Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in militant activities since Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a proscribed conglomerate of armed factions, called off a fragile ceasefire with the government in November 2022.

The violence has largely been confined to the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan that share frontier with the neighboring state of Afghanistan.

The country’s security forces and law enforcement agencies have carried out several operations in recent months to deal with militants in places like North Waziristan where the recent engagement with the militants took place.

“During the conduct of operation, intense fire exchange took place between own troops and the terrorists,” the military’s media wing, ISPR, said in a statement, adding that this led to the killing of six militants.

“Weapons, ammunition and explosives were also recovered from the killed terrorists, who remained actively involved in numerous terrorist activities including target killing as well as extortion & abduction of innocent civilians,” it added.

The ISPR said one of the Pakistani soldiers who participated in the operation also got injured.

It informed the Pakistani forces started a “sanitization operation” to find other militants who might have taken refuge in the area.

Pakistan’s North Waziristan district was once described as the hub of militancy before the government launched a clear-and-hold military operation to reclaim the territory.


US urges new Pakistan government to prioritize economy, continue working with IMF on reforms 

US urges new Pakistan government to prioritize economy, continue working with IMF on reforms 
Updated 29 February 2024
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US urges new Pakistan government to prioritize economy, continue working with IMF on reforms 

US urges new Pakistan government to prioritize economy, continue working with IMF on reforms 
  • The US says it supports Pakistan’s efforts to break free from the vicious cycle of debt and international financing
  • Analysts believe government will have to negotiate another IMF loan program amid continuing economic challenges

ISLAMABAD: The United States said on Wednesday Pakistan’s new government should address the economic situation facing the country on priority, emphasizing it was important for the emerging administration in Islamabad to continue engagements with international financial institutions.

Pakistan is holding the first National Assembly today, Thursday, in which the newly elected lawmakers will take oath. The country’s new government is expected to take the reins of power within the next few days after the in-house election of the next prime minister.

The issue of Pakistan’s economy came up for discussion during a regular State Department briefing after a journalist asked about a letter written by former premier Imran Khan’s party to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), asking it to link the next loan facility to “good governance” in the country.

“I’ll just say with respect to the IMF that we support Pakistan’s efforts to break free from the vicious cycle of debt and international financing,” Spokesperson Matthew Miller said. “The long-term health of Pakistan’s government – or economy is crucial to its stability.”

“Pakistan’s new government must immediately prioritize the economic situation because the policies over the next several months will be crucial to maintaining economic stability for Pakistanis,” he added. “And we urge Pakistan to continue working with the IMF and other international financial institutions toward macroeconomic reforms.”

Pakistan has been facing significant financial challenges in recent years, with dwindling foreign exchange reserves and declining value of its national currency.

The country’s caretaker administration negotiated a $3 billion, short-term loan facility with the IMF that is scheduled to expire in March.

Pakistan’s economic challenges persist, prompting many analysts to point out it will continue to need external financing from the international lending agency.