We Are The Cockroaches

I’ve spent a significant part of my life running content sites that capitalized on catchy (click-bait) titles like the one above so I’ve old habits of using them time and again. The reason, however, why I chose this title for this blog is because there’s a myth that cockroaches can survive the nuclear apocalypse.

After reading about the studies that were conducted, I found out that while cockroaches can’t survive the apocalypse, just as no other biological creature can, they are 10 times more resilient against the radiations in comparison to humans. They also breed fast, so it’s a lot more likely for their generations to live despite the nukes.

I think thats us. The entrepreneurs of Pakistan. Or people of Pakistan in general. Allow me to explain please.

I’ve ranted enough times here on this blog about the lack of basic digital infra access. We don’t have PayPal for collecting small/medium international payments. We don’t have Stripe or other payment gateways, so we can’t collect payments from the credit & debit cards of the customers. We can’t sell on Amazon as a seller either. We’re not eligible for Facebook monetization programs such as Ad-Breaks / In-stream ads etc.

I can’t think of many businesses that can exist without the ability to accept payments. So, in summary, we’re in a pretty fucked up situation.

In comparison, PayPal is available in 200 countries. Stripe is available in 40 countries. Residents from over 100 countries can sell on Amazon US. Facebook monetization tools are available in over 50 countries. All the services described above are available in India & Bangladesh.

Despite that, one of the top ten largest sellers on Amazon US that is doing over $50 million dollars in monthly revenue is a Pakistan-origin company. There are thousands of sellers from Pakistan who sell on Amazon US by setting foreign companies.

The top 5 Facebook ad-breaks / in-stream publishers are Pakistan-origin companies doing millions of dollars in monthly revenue.

Pakistan also has the 4th highest number of freelancers in the world.

These people were banned from participating in this global trade. They were not given an equal playing field. They were born in poverty. There was a systemic racism in place.

While the west focused on “solving problems for others” that could make them billionaires, these people focused on solving their own problems. Problems originating from hunger. Problems originating from lack of education. Problems as basic as access to electricity. Even the middle class & upper middle class struggled with problems as little as the inability to afford air conditioning in scorching heat.

Because they were so tied up with solving problems so basic, I couldn’t and wouldn’t expect them to come up with the Googles and the Amazons of the world. I wouldn’t have even expected them to be top sellers on the marketplaces where they weren’t even welcome. But they are. Because they are resilient. If they have come this far, they will go farther too.

And so, I don’t have any doubts any longer, that Pakistani entrepreneurs will win, whether they get an equal playing field or not.

Systemic Racism & Entrepreneurs of Pakistan

In the past few weeks, I came across many videos that highlighted the systemic or institutional racism in the US. They highlighted how the opportunities are blocked for the people of color right from the start which result in the eventual 700% difference in the wealth between whites and people of color especially black.

systemic racism starts right from when you can’t go to the same schools as your white counterparts.

Here are some of the videos that I saw: 1 | 2 | 3

If you can see such contrast in citizens of the same country, how do you expect the same opportunities to be ever available to people of Pakistan? I received the following comment on a thread in one of the Facebook ads group, and it made me think about it (again).

If people of color struggle in the US, as a Pakistani entrepreneur, with limited access to quality education, lack of access to community, nearly no access to funding, not even access to the same softwares, or banking, how do you ever expect to achieve the same things that are achieved by the people of similar intellect in the US? The short is answer is that you can’t.

However, despite making the above statement, I’m extremely optimistic about the people of Pakistan and their future. The reason for that is that I’ve seen them rise up and stay resilient. Sure, they aren’t building any Amazon or Google, but they are doing much better than anyone could have expected given all the odds against them.

I want to write about this resilience in tomorrow’s blog.