Peshawar 2.0

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Peshawar 2.0

Peshawar, PakistanPeshawar , Pakistan
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Peshawar 2.0 is our dream city. A city of technology, design and art.
We are a social enterprise that aims to rebuild and rebrand the city of Peshawar by empowering the youth to innovate and build startup companies.
We work with all stakeholders in a holistic way to build a local startup ecosyste

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if every city in the world becomes a hub of innovation and an engine for economic growth? What if we avoid missing this opportunity across the world? What if every kid has an equal chance to be successful and contribute to society?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Peshawar is one of the oldest cities in Asia, located at the crossroads of trade, commerce and culture for centuries. Over the past few decades, it has suffered from geo-political instability which not only gathered alot of prejudice but with 60% of its people being young, it remained a disadvantaged place for them, deprived of any opportunity or hope. This, we believe, directly fed into brain drain, unemployment, crime and war.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We aim to rebuild and rebrand this City by engineering a healthy startup ecosystem that engages the youth in a productive and meaningful way. This is not only valuable for them, but also helps us harness their innovative, creative and entrepreneurial potential for the national and global economy. Peshawar 2.0 started off to create awareness (advocacy) and after an overwhelming response, gradually diversified into training for 21st century skills (capacity building). Again, after considerable response and a growing number of ideas and startups in the community, we have launched our very own startup factory (for incubation and acceleration) specifically tailored for Pakistani startups.


Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Lets pick one of our earliest events, the first ever Startup Weekend in Peshawar (an intense 52-hour no-talk-all-action workshop on how to build a business). We had over a dozen startups that were built in 3 days. One of the startups has now scaled and online work trainings to studnets across the country in collaboration with the World Bank and provincial governments. Another founder pivoted and is doing a unique pizza+delivery business in Peshawar. Yet another guy who had only 2 cofounders, has a gaming studio which is 22 people strong! If we take one of our flagship events, e.g. DYS2015, we had 100 speakers from SF to Nepal, 3500+ participant from all over, 5million+ impressions online, and 20million rupees raised by startups in 3days!

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We remain connected to all 13 university campuses and several schools in Peshawar at the student, faculty and leadership levels in order to create awareness and promote a startup culture. We have an extensive ambassadors network in the pool of university students living and studying in Peshawar which totals more than 50,000 enriched and concentrated here from a population of 50,000,000 in the region (we therefore hope each one of these will be a changemaker in their home towns). We have organised more than a 100 events including hackathons, socials, meetups, talks workshops and conferences. Startups in Peshawar cross the 100 mark and we hope to inspire and help create hundreds more in the years to come.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We are city-focused initiative and therefore density is what we are after. We want to be able to attract, retain and concentrate as much talent as we can in Peshawar. We want to grow the number of startups hatching every year and those raising investments. We hope that by 'leading by example' and by demonstrating through our work, we can inspire change at the policy level. We are engineering an ecosystem through an citizen-led, lean, organic and bottom-up approach, almost from scratch. In the next 5-10 years, we want to replicate this model in atleast 5 other cities in 'growth markets'.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Since most of our is project or event based, we have been successful in raising enough funds to carry out high quality work. Our sources of funds are the private sector, government and the development sector.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Peshawar 2.0 uses a citizen-led, lean, organic and bottom-up approach to build a local startup ecosystem which we hope will be deep-rooted and sustainable in the years to come.

Founding Story

The idea for Peshawar 2.0 has been in my mind since college days. But the idea of focusing on building a startup ecosystem struck me when I was in Oxford pursuing my doctorate in biology, working on my startup back then and also studying Strategy and Innovation at the business school. I realized and was convinced this could be game-changer for the youth. I was at a junction towards the end of my doctorate, whether to go back to Pakistan for field trials of our product (a bio-pesticide that kills mosquitoes) and return to London to fundraise for my startup, or move back and hatch Peshawar 2.0. With a strong desire for change and impact, I chose the later.


I took a term off and got on a flight to Peshawar. There was no tech community back in 2012. I found it really difficult to find the right cofounders. I resorted to Facebook - the search was noisy there. I thought Twitter is still new back then and early adopters there could be a good bet. I searched #Peshawar along with other hashtags and found Uzair (who as in the UK). He connected me to BIlal and Salman (who were in Pakistan). Our thoughts and ideas resonated instantly and Peshawar 2.0 was born. Muhammad Uzair (Communications Lead) brings in great experience in digital marketing and new media. He has a BS in Mass Communicaiton, from Northumbria University. Bilal Ahmad (Education Lead) is a great teacher and has a knack for great design especially typography. He has a Masters in Marketing from IMS in Peshawar. Salman Ahmad (Community Lead) is our talent and people guy who leads our network of students and faculty members across universities (that we leverage to create awareness and inspire the youth to consider startups). He has a Masters in Human Resource Development, from IMS in Peshawar.
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