Growing at more than 55% a year and collectively employing 41,000, the winners of Pakistan Fast Growth 100 contest were announced by Harvard-based Allworld Network last week. Of these 100 entrepreneurial companies, 70 also qualified for the Arabia500, putting Pakistan in second position after Turkey with 117 winners.
AllWorld was co-founded by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter, Deirdre M. Coyle, Jr., and Anne S. Habiby with the aim to bring visibility to growing companies in emerging markets to increase their odds of success. Any private, non-listed, company with rapid sales growth and an ability to demonstrate results with audited financial statements was invited to compete for a spot on the inaugural Arabia500 which includes Pakistan and Turkey in addition to the emerging economies of the Middle East and North Africa.
Each Pakistan entrepreneur ranked in the top 100 has grown an average of 40 percent annually between 2008 and 2010, created an average of 200 jobs per company, and is succeeding in industries from web technology to transportation, food to textiles, and construction to consulting, according to an AllWorld press release. With an average age of 42, nearly all of them plan to establish another entrepreneurial venture within the next two years.
Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Pakistan’s Minister for Finance, is quoted as saying that “the strong performance of Pakistani companies in Arabia500 illustrates that in spite of the challenges there continues to be strong business and investment opportunity in Pakistan. Pakistani companies in Arabia500 are surfacing new horizons for growth and quickening the pace of economic development and regional integration.”
The fastest growing company from Pakistan, E2E Supply Chain Management, grew at nearly 2000 percent between 2008 and 2010, with 2010 revenues above $50 million and 297 employees. Of the Arabia500 winners from 15 countries, E2E was the third fastest growing. Taking the second spot for Pakistan was Exceed Private Limited with a growth rate of 1,320 percent and 90 employees, and in sixth position overall on the Arabia500.
Pakistan also had the highest number of women entrepreneurs on the Arabia500, and Luscious Cosmetics of Pakistan topped the list of the fastest growing Arabia500 women entrepreneurs with growth of 392 percent and 82 employees.
Complimenting the Pakistan100 winners at the Awards Ceremony held in Lahore, AllWorld co-founders Deirdre Coyle and Anne Habiby urged the Pakistan100 to go further “When no one expected much, the Pakistan100 broke records for growth, transparency and competitiveness. They are the personification of what every country dreams of having. Now raise the bar higher and build Pakistan as a leading entrepreneurial nation.”
A recent World Bank report titled "More and Better Jobs in South Asia" said that 63% of Pakistan's workforce is self-employed, including 13% high-end self-employed. Salaried and daily wage earners make up only 37% of the workforce.
Even if one chooses to consider just the 13% who are high-end self-employed as entrepreneurs by choice, it puts Pakistanis among the most entrepreneurial people in the world.
The winners of Pakistan100 entrepreneurs are truly inspirational. They epitomize the Pakistani nation's extraordinary resilience and reaffirm that Pakistan's best days are ahead.