KARACHI: VavaCars, an online platform for used car transactions, said on Thursday it’s permanently shutting down operations in Pakistan.

In a message pasted on its website, the Turkish automobile marketplace said the company is “no longer operational” in the country. Its closure follows on the heels of staff layoffs, service rollbacks and even outright closures by prominent ecommerce players in recent weeks.

Backed by the Dutch energy giant Vitol, VavaCars commenced local operations a couple of years ago. In October 2021, the start-up raised as much as $50 million in a Series B round, which was led by Duquesne Family Office LLC along with Vitol and had participation from other investors.

VavaCars also raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round that it held at the beginning of 2019.

At the time of its Series B round eight months ago, the start-up claimed it had already traded more than 10,000 cars and grown to a team of 300 employees across Turkey and Pakistan. The company said it was growing its gross merchandise value — a widely used ecommerce indicator that measures the value of products processed for sale by an app or website — by an average of 30 per cent month-on-month at the time.

The company spokesperson didn’t respond to Dawn’s queries about the reason for ending Pakistan operations and the extent of job losses caused by the decision. There was no word either on whether the company plans to continue its operations in Turkey.

Pakistan’s start-up ecosystem is in the midst of a tumultuous period. Global investors that generously injected cash into start-ups with fancy pitch decks have now started demanding early break-evens instead of mere top-line growth.

Prominent players like Airlift, Careem, Swvl and Truck It In have laid off employees and curtailed the scope of their operations in recent weeks in view of the global recession and unfavourable economic conditions on the local front.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2022

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