Pakistan-based EdTech startup Maqsad announced a $2.1 million round of pre-Seed funding on Monday.

The round was led by Pakistan-focused early-stage VC fund Indus Valley Capital. Silicon Valley-based global tech VC firm Alter Global, Pakistan-focused venture capital firm Fatima Gobi Ventures, and several individual founders from Pakistan and the Middle East also participated, Madsaq said in a statement.

Founded by Taha Ahmed and Rooshan Aziz, Maqsad is building a one-stop shop for after-school academic support for 100 million Pakistani students.

The mobile-only platform will deliver high-quality localized academic content that is in a mix of English and Urdu.

This will be supplemented by quizzes and other gamified features that will come together to provide a personalized learning experience.

“It’s about more than just getting students to pass their exams. We want to start a revolution in the way Pakistani students learn, moving beyond rote memorization to a place of real comprehension” Taha said, formerly a strategy consultant for LEK in London. The word ‘maqsad’ means purpose in Urdu. “We believe everyone has a purpose. Maqsad’s mission is to enable Pakistani students to realize this purpose; whether you are a student from an urban center, such as Lahore, or from a remote village in Sindh: Maqsad believes in equal opportunity for all,” explained Rooshan.

Having grown up in Karachi, childhood friends Taha and Rooshan are well aware of the challenges within the Pakistani education system – at 44:1, the nation’s student-teacher ratio is among the highest in the world.

Furthermore, the best teachers tend to focus on niche segments, widening the educational gap. Regrettably, research has also shown that Pakistani children are less likely to go to school for each kilometer of distance between school and their homes—with girls being four times more affected, Maqsad noted.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a global education crisis, which was more pronounced in developing countries. This gave rise to EdTech startups globally, with ventures in countries like India and Indonesia scaling rapidly to make education more accessible for the wider population.

Maqsad aims to level the playing field by offering Pakistani students the tools they need to succeed in their exams and beyond.

A core pillar of Maqsad’s strategy is to foster a high-growth environment that brings together Pakistan’s top talent to develop a world-class product. “We have been blown away by the talent we’ve seen so far and are very excited about the future of the ecosystem,” said Taha.

“We’ve been looking to invest in a startup transforming education in Pakistan since Indus Valley’s inception. Maqsad founders’ deep understanding of the problem, unique approach to solving it, and passion for impact persuaded us quickly that this was the team to partner with. We are thrilled about helping Maqsad become the platform for Pakistan’s youth to realize its potential,” Indus Valley Capital Founder and Managing Partner Aatif Awan said.

Maqsad will be launching its mobile app in the fourth quarter of 2021 and currently has a waitlist for early access.

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