Hope Pharmacy is co-founded by Ghulam Fahad & Yusra Fahad — who are partners in real life and in business! Hope is an online pharmacy providing authentic local/international medicines & healthcare products in rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan. They have operational outlets in Hyderabad & Karachi.
We got the chance to converse with Fahad & Yusra, Co-founders Hope Pharmacy to understand the motivation behind starting their entrepreneurial journey. They say that need drives innovation and in Hope Pharmacy’s case this was indeed true. Fahad and Yusra both hail from a small town in Sindh where access to medicines or general health facilities was scarce and accessing a pharmacy would mean travelling a minimum of two hours. Yusra mentioned that she had seen personal loss due to lack of access to medications and health facilities. Her mother was also the only gynecologist in their small town of Jamshoro therefore, she was exposed to the sub par health system prevalent in interior Sindh. In 2020 as the pandemic hit and the Covid-19 outbreak started to spread all across the country with a mandate of staying at home pharmacies became a necessity. Realising the space in the market Fahad and Yusra decided to start their journey as entrepreneurs. In order to work towards the execution of their business idea Fahad and Yusra needed to have some difficult conversations to decide the scope of their business, with the main question being whether they wanted to limit themselves to being an online pharmacy or they wanted to eventually have outlets within different cities of Pakistan. After much deliberation they eventually decided to start off as an online pharmacy with plans of expansion of outlets at a later date — the primary reason for this being that medicines should be accessible to every kind of user. Hope Pharmacy kicked off its operations in Hyderabad as that meant that the surrounding small villages and cities were also able to access the pharmacy.
Conceiving an idea is just the beginning — it is bringing that idea to life which presents the most challenges. However, when you’re starting a business in the middle of a pandemic the challenges increase by tenfold. Yusra recalled that the pandemic meant in person interactions were limited so a task as small as connecting with a design person meant numerous zoom calls. There was constant back & forth and communication was a tedious task. Another factor was that Hope pharmacy had placed itself in the market as a source for international medicines but importing products also proved to be difficult with the constant lockdowns in Pakistan. These factors coupled with the mass hysteria around Covid-19 brought a wave of apprehension and self doubt. Fahad highlighted how some days it felt like things were just not going to happen. However, what made these passing moments of demotivation manageable was having a co-founder. He felt having a co-founder meant there was always someone to talk to or rely on who was just as invested in the process as he was. It also meant that if he needed to take a day off or step away for a moment he had the flexibility to do so.
Slowly but surely Hope Pharmacy began its operations in 2020 as an online pharmacy with the option of delivery all across the country. Now they have an operational in person outlet in Hyderabad and slowly plan to expand into other cities across Pakistan. Their expansion plan includes fulfillment centres in tier-B cities and towns which will service at least 10-15 nearby towns and cities. Geographically they can cover the whole of semi-urban and rural Sindh and Punjab by a network of 50 fulfillment centers.
Every person has a different challenge along their entrepreneurial process but what’s important is to ride the wave of setbacks and continue forward! We are excited to see all of Hope Pharmacy’s future endeavours.