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January 18, 2020

‘Govt holds key to unlocking billion dollar a year ecommerce potential’

Business

January 18, 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan is now well-positioned to earn up to $1 billion annually through ecommerce on Amazon, world’s largest online marketplace, but the government doesn't seem to be willing to match the endeavours as well the ambitiousness of the industry.

It was stated by Sunny Ali, CEO of Extreme Commerce, in an exclusive interview with The News during his visit to Pakistan. “My ultimate goal is to train 10,000 ecommerce students and empower them to actively trade on Amazon for North America and European buyers,” Ali said.

Ali, who started his career from Karachi’s slum Sultanabad from a computer training center, now leads Extreme Commerce that provides training to youth for building ecommerce businesses on Amazon.

With an experience spanning over years and years, Ali has established businesses in Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia, and now has returned only to bring Pakistan on the map of ecommerce world.

“I have been working with investors and students here in Pakistan since 2017. I train them how to create Amazon and Paypal accounts from Pakistan,” Ali said.

He said Pakistan ecommerce market was worth $1 billion only, while US’s was around $550 billion and wealth creation chances were higher over there. “Pakistan market is still immature and will require at least five more years to establish,” he said.

Ali said one of his top student had created $4 million assets on Amazon and was earning around Rs15 million/month. “Average sellers were earning up to $3,000 to $5,000/month over an evaluation of Rs35 million, while it took them around one year to establish their trading. There are fifty-fifty chances of success and failure,” he said.

Saying that attracting investment was still a big issue, Ali informed that currently the overseas/local Pakistani investors were working with the actively trading students at a 70/30 investment ratio respectively, while profits were shared equally.

“Legally, Amazon and Paypal accounts cannot be opened from Pakistan. We open accounts from other countries by opening up companies over there,” Ali said explaining the modus operandi of this company.

Due to Financial Action Task Force (FATF) compliance issues, Paypal, the global online payment service provider, would not come to Pakistan, he said, adding however Amazon could still return to the country.

Amazon had blocked Pakistan in 2007 following Pakistani traders’ failure in meeting up their standards. In south Asia, only Pakistan remains blocked out by Amazon, while India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal are its members. World over, 103 countries are allowed trading over Amazon.

Ali said anybody in Pakistan with less than Rs50,000/month income could take his training for free, while people with incomes higher than that would have to enroll for paid training. “We focus women and income groups,” Ali said and added, “Women can earn up to $500/month from their homes”.

Giving further details, he said around 4,000 sellers from Pakistan were active on Amazon, while Extreme Commerce was aiming to take this tally to 10,000.

“To become a seller on Amazon an investment of around $20,000 to $30,000 will be required if you own a brand and if you are selling other(s) brand(s) then $2,000 to $4,000 will suffice.

Ali said active students could also find freelance work that did not require personal investment, adding, that some of his active students were earning around $1,500 to $2,000/month while others around $500/month without any investment.

Extreme Commerce head said since Pakistan did not have any quality manufacturers, they purchased Chinese goods from Ali Baba and sold them at Amazon.

“Ali Baba is B2B (business-to-business) platform while Amazon is B2C (business-to-customer) platform,” he said.

Pakistani manufacturers lacked quality manufacturing of products along with ethical and moral values, Ali said adding that new ecommerce platform could be established from Pakistan, but it would require at least $100 million investment. “It is not possible with less than that,” he said.

He said Pakistan had made it difficult to import raw material, export or even get funds transferred in local accounts, thus they had to operate from overseas companies.

“Export of such products from Pakistan is impossible, as government requires money before products are sold. Thus we need exports from China. Amazon money is kept out of Pakistan, which is a loss for the government on a larger scale,” he said.

“The government must allow us to bring the trade money into country easily… and if government makes ecommerce-friendly policies, we can negotiate with Amazon to reopen trading from Pakistan,” Ali said.

He suggested Pakistani youth to explore Amazon and his training platform and set realistic goals.