August 17th, 2018, Karachi, Pakistan: After voyaging around Pakistan on trains and buses scouting for female innovators, the CIRCLE team wraps up months of hard work at the #SheLovesTech Pakistan 2018 Finals.
Held on August 16th at the National Incubation Center in Karachi, the finals featured 10 female startups from around Pakistan all of whom employ technology to impact women positively. The winner, Saba Khalid of Raaji, will now go to Beijing, China to represent Pakistan and compete in the Global Finals as well as receive mentorship and investment opportunities. In addition, the runner-up, Orbit-Ed, and second runner-up, Tez Financial Services, will receive PKR 100,000 and 50,000 cash prizes, courtesy of Cargill.
Raaji provides a digital platform that educates, empowers and entertains women through various projects. It involves a chatbot that can answer questions about harassment/abuse, health and hygiene as well as education and employment.
In 2017, CIRCLE brought SheLovesTech, the world’s largest startup competition for women in tech, to Pakistan when CIRCLE Founder, Sadaffe Abid, met Virginia Tan in a Lean In Summit in Malaysia where she was a closing keynote. Sadaffe jumped at the opportunity without really having the funding as she loved the idea of spotlighting Pakistani women startups that were using technology. This year, after three successful local rounds in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, a panel of esteemed judges including Jehan Ara, PASHA President, Yusuf Hussain, CEO Ignite, Naheed Memon, Chairperson Sindh Investment Board and Faraz Khan, CEO SEED Ventures, selected their National Winner. Mr. Faraz shared his thoughts on the event saying, “SheLovesTech brought together quality female entrepreneurs whose startups are a great integration of technology and social impact. This combination in itself is really difficult to find but SheLovesTech has managed to bring out the best of these two.”
Ms. Naheed also shared her experience, stating, “I think SheLovesTech is giving a lot of budding entrepreneurs a great opportunity and platform. Some of the ideas are absolutely fascinating and tapping into new markets. I think that they are going to create a lot of new industries and new jobs. This deserves all the support and I’m very glad to be here.”
CIRCLE is a social enterprise that aims to advance women’s economic participation. It is founded by Sadaffe Abid, who previously led the Kashf Foundation as COO and later CEO. Sadaffe set up CIRCLE with the belief that empowerment and inclusion of Pakistani women was the key solution to the country’s economic and social problems. Relaying her insight, she said, “Pakistani women are enterprising, creative and resilient. We must create opportunities for women to come forward whether as entrepreneurs, innovators or in leadership roles.”
Meticulously decorated, the space at NIC pleasantly echoed with national tunes as the guests arrived to witness the startups pitch their ideas. UK Deputy High Commissioner, Elin Burns, gave the opening welcome keynote. Sharing her experience, she said, “In my short time here in Pakistan, I am glad to say that seeing successful women in leading roles doesn’t surprise me. I have met amazing women in a hugely diverse range of fields: from banking to law, from tech entrepreneurs to pilots. There is a wealth of talent in Pakistan, and She Loves Tech is just one example of that. I hope that this positive trend continues over coming years, contributing to Pakistan’s bright and prosperous future.”
SheLovesTech is a global startup competition that brings together entrepreneurs who employ technology to positively impact women. The competition is held in 14 countries across the world, including Pakistan.
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