CIRCLE hosted an orientation session in collaboration with NED Entrepreneurship Society for She Loves Tech Global Startup Competition, on Wednesday, 7th June at NED University campus, Karachi. Speakers included Shanza Khan, CEO and Co-Founder of BoloTech, the world’s first Urdu language speech therapy platform, Madeeha Omer, IBM strategy and marketing leader, Arifa Mahfooz, NED graduate and Managing Software Engineer at Techlogix Pvt Ltd., Sana Farooq, CEO of ELN and Pakistan’s first female entrepreneur to be selected for Blackbox Connect Silicon Valley, and Sameer Khan, CEO and Co-founder of Social Champ and Ouzel Systems.
On woman-focused entrepreneurship, Sadaffe Abid, co-founder and CEO of CIRCLE, said, “It is organisations who support women’s entrepreneurship and inclusion, such as CIRCLE, IBM, Techlogics and startups that build inclusive cultures that are paving the way for Pakistani women to thrive so our country can be more prosperous and equitable.”
The venue was filled with a high number of both male and female entrepreneurs and students looking to learn from the experienced speakers and to find out more about the She Loves Tech competition. A photo booth was set up with props sporting empowering hashtags such as #SistersInTech and #ISupportWomenInStem.
The five speakers spoke directly to the gathered women-focused startups attending the event and gave valuable advice and anecdotes from their own career experience. “When I was young, I used to pray every night that in the morning when I woke up, I would be Spider-man. You need to have faith in your dreams, no matter how absurd they are,” said Sameer Khan.
NED University of Engineering and Technology is one of Pakistan’s oldest higher learning institutes and collaborated with CIRCLE on bringing this event to their campus to target those interested in She Loves Tech. Director CINETIC, Dr. Syed Mehmood Hassan talked about NED’s ongoing support of women entrepreneurs. He said, “NED has always supported women empowerment- the NED Entrepreneurship Society started in 2014 and since then, all its 3 presidents have been female.”
CIRCLE, Pakistan partner for She Loves Tech, is a social enterprise focused on women’s economic inclusion and leadership development with the mission to develop and build the entrepreneurial and leadership capacity of women in Pakistan. CIRCLE does this through advocacy, research and capacity building initiatives including Women and Business chapters in 3 cities, campus chapters in 10 institutes, 40+ local and international partners, leadership development programs and innovative campaigns. To bridge the digital gender gap, CIRCLE Tech offers technology skills to young women from underserved communities with the aim to reach 10,000 women by 2020.
The She Loves Tech Global StartUp Competition is aimed at promising women entrepreneurs and women-impact startups around the world, offering them a unique opportunity to showcase their businesses to a global audience of investors and influencers from the tech community. She Loves Tech Pakistan 2017 is the Pakistan round of the competition, hosted by CIRCLE. Entries for the competition are now open and 23rd June is the deadline to enter.
One of the applicants to She Loves Tech Pakistan is BoloTech whose CEO, Shanza Khan spoke on Wednesday at the NED Campus. She advised participants to believe in themselves despite negativity, saying, “the same people who discouraged you will flock around you when you become successful.”
The winning team from Pakistan will go on to pitch at the global finals of the She Loves Tech 2017 Global Startup Competition (September 16, 2017) in China and participate in an immersive week-long boot camp (September 11-15, 2017) consisting of talks and panels, visits to leading tech companies, networking opportunities, and personalized pitch preparation workshops. Throughout this time, Teja Ventures, a venture capital fund with a gender lens, SOSV, #1 in VC seed funding for female-founded startups (TechCrunch), and other affiliate funds of the She Loves Tech global initiative will be actively looking to invest in women impact startups from the competition.
Each of the five speakers at the orientation session were forthcoming with motivation and advice for startups applying to competitions at this level. Arifa Mahfooz advised skill building. “You’ll feel like you have no personal life because you are working such long hours,” she said, “you need to learn time management for that.”
Madeeha Omer, an experienced marketer in the tech field emphasised the importance of customer satisfaction, especially as a startup company. She said, “In tech, it’s not important to be earning a high revenue. What’s imperative is being passionate and providing customer value.”
To get involved with She Loves Tech or for more information, visit: www.shelovestech.org