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Cross Border Partnership: PickMe ventures into Nepal; IFC endorses move to support startup ecosystem

From left to right: Biswas Dhakal - Chairman & President F1Soft Group, Jiffry Zulfer – CEO PickMe and Yohann De Zoysa - CEO of Filps Software Design LLC (an F1Soft Group company)

PickMe has crossed digital borders and will take the ride hailing market by storm with the launch of their latest technology partnership, JumJum (Let’s Go) in Nepal, a country where 78% of 3.22 million vehicles registered are motorcycles. Named as the Motorcycle city, Kathmandu Valley claims to have over a million motorcycles on their busy roads.

PickMe’s CEO Zulfer Jiffry says it made perfect sense to launch their services for Nepal’s motorcycle segment. JumJum will initially launch in the Kathmandu valley, which is said to be home to 40% of the 2.5 million registered motorbikes in Nepal.

The App which is called JumJum to give a more local feel for Nepali users, is a tech collaboration between PickMe and the largest fintech service provider ‘F1Soft’ in Nepal. “This strategic partnership is the culmination of a long search in South Asia to take our services to another country in the region. We have done it in a manner that adds value to the Nepali economy, by engaging with an acclaimed Nepalese tech company.” says the CEO.

In 2018, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) made a $2.5 million equity investment in PickMe – the first start-up IFC backed in Sri Lanka – to help the company expand across the island and increase access to affordable, safe, and efficient transportation. “Over the years, PickMe excelled in diversifying their products and services by expanding beyond ride-hailing to being a logistics company and also a pioneer in delivering necessities, especially during crises. It also became a platform which helped create jobs and new economic opportunities for many, including for women. At IFC, we are delighted to see PickMe going across borders and venturing into newer markets, supporting the growth of Nepal’s startup ecosystem,” said Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa, Country Manager for IFC in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Speaking on behalf of JumJum, Biswas Dhakal, President and Chairperson of F1Soft Group said, "In heralding the arrival of JumJum in Nepal, we witness the convergence of two technological powerhouses: PickMe from Sri Lanka and F1Soft from Nepal. This partnership represents a fusion of unparalleled expertise and innovation, poised to redefine the landscape of ride-hailing solutions in Nepal.

By leveraging the collective strengths and domain expertise of both entities, JumJum stands as a testament to the transformative potential that arises when visionary leaders unite. As we embark on this journey together, we are committed to delivering a seamless and unparalleled experience for our users, setting new benchmarks for excellence in the realm of digital mobility."

Chairman of PickMe, Ajit Gunewardene, articulating the company's immense potential, remarks, "Almost a decade ago, when PickMe was launched, we recognized its capacity to evolve into a prominent entity within Sri Lanka. We also foresaw its potential to transcend borders. The vision was to provide a service that would be of international standards. Over the years, PickMe has diligently forged partnerships across the region, and as we venture into the Kathmandu valley, our aspirations have been realised. While there will undoubtedly be a learning curve, it serves as a vital stepping stone towards propelling PickMe to greater heights with expansion into new markets. I am unwaveringly confident that our adept team possesses the requisite knowledge and expertise to ensure the success of PickMe's expansion into Nepal."

On a more macro level, Zulfer Jiffry says this is a great lesson for Sri Lanka in understanding the potential to expand digital businesses in the region, through a careful selection of optimum go to market strategies. “It is a shining example for local startups to know that whatever solutions we develop locally can be grown exponentially in other markets and become a vibrant foreign exchange earner for the country.”

He adds that as PickMe gears to disrupt the Nepalese digital transportation stratosphere, they will continue to provide more locally nuanced solutions. “With the recent initiatives taken to leverage Generative AI solutions in the product and engineering domain, we are much faster in understanding the terrain and can deliver services fine tuned to local habits and consumer patterns.”

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