In 2017, a software company in Pakistan reached out to us for support in a project that they were building for the government. The government wanted to provide an end-to-end e-commerce solution to the artisans of Pakistan so they could easily export their product on D2C basis. This means access to e-commerce software/platform, payment gateway, training on how to sell etc. The budget was over a billion Rs. I don’t know the exact budget but I do know it was more than 1 billion Rs. Here’s how I saw the project evolve.
The government required of the software house to build the e-commerce platform in-house in Pakistan. I saw it, it wasn’t bad. But I’m sure it wasn’t and can’t be as good as Shopify – a $100B company, with over 5000 employees. Majority of the billion Rs budget went into the development of this software, which could have been offered to artisans for $29/month with an existing solution or for free with the likes of WooCommerce. For the payment gateway, the government wanted the software house to setup a company in US and setup a payment gateway e.g Stripe that could be shared between all the artisans. And the last stage was to train artisans to enable them with e-commerce skills.
The correct distribution of funds, in my opinion, could be to have the least amount of money spent on the software/platform, slightly more for access to payment gateway, and the most to enable artisans to sell.
In reality, almost all the funds were spent on creating a Shopify clone, that may never see the light of the day with no budget left for payment gateway and training.
This was either yet another attempt of action faking by the government, or a complete lack of strategy despite having good intentions. Whatever it was, it was a disaster, and we quickly saw ourselves disassociate from the meetings.