Wadi.com, a GCC based e-commerce platform co-founded by LUMS alumna, Kanwal Sarfraz (BSc Honours, Class of 2009) raised USD 67 Million in its first investment round in February this year. The investment was led by Al Tayyar Group from KSA and has been described as the largest Series A investment in the tech history of the region, validating not just the success the company has achieved in a short period of time but also the great work Pakistani entrepreneurs are doing across the world. Wadi.com was started in 2015 by the Middle East Internet Group (MEIG), a Joint Venture between German internet platform Rocket Internet and South African telecommunications provider MTN. Wadi.com is currently active in UAE and Saudi Arabia and has quickly grown to become one of the largest players in the region, offering a wide assortment of more than 150,000 products from more than 2,000 international brands.
Kanwal, who studied Economics at LUMS, has been involved in entrepreneurial activities since college and served as President of DRUMS (Debates and Recitation Society at LUMS) from 2008-09. She was also responsible for helping launch the Annual LUMS Olympiad and convened the event in 2008. Post-graduation, Kanwal went on to do her MPhil in Economics at the University of Cambridge, where she was awarded a Commonwealth and Noon Shared Scholarship. She describes her time at LUMS as one of ‘exploration and adventures. Speaking about her venture, she said, ‘Our very accomplished and passionate team is a key advantage and Pakistan continues to be an important source of talent for us. Our aspiration is to not just build a company people enjoy working for but one that can coach and cultivate future entrepreneurs.’
As one of the Co-founders and the Chief Operating Officer, Kanwal is responsible for all support functions (HR and talent acquisition, finance and business intelligence, legal and corporate), investor relations as well as broad cross-functional strategic projects (strategy and special projects). She owns the company’s business plan and plays a big role in helping functional teams make the right strategic choices to ensure that the plans are met.
Prior to Wadi, Kanwal worked at McKinsey and Company, Dubai where she served leading GCC and Pakistani enterprises on topics of strategy and operations. She has also worked with Unilever and Gallup Pakistan and as a Teaching Assistant at LUMS.