At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the four founders of Pakistani start-up Markaz Technologies noticed something going on around them. Like people all around the world, their friends and families were buying more products online than ever before; but crucially, they were purchasing from micro-enterprises via social media channels such as Facebook and WhatsApp, rather than the large ecommerce platforms.
The idea for Markaz, an online reselling platform that has just completed a $2.4m seed funding round, came from that experience, says Shoaib Khan, one of the founders. “My a-ha moment was when my mother told me she had bought some sheets through the WhatsApp account of a woman she had known for more than 10 years,” he recalls. Shoppers such as Khan’s mother were embracing ecommerce, but trust remained a huge issue; they wanted to buy from people they knew – or at least not from large and faceless corporations.