Women have started to make a dent in the heavily male-dominated startup ecosystem

Throughout the world, the startup ecosystem is not female friendly.  In America, only 17% of startup founders are women. In India women run about 14% of business organizations. In Singapore, women make up only 5% of entrepreneurs in tech startups. Whereas, the numbers for Pakistan would be much lower.

A research conducted by Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) in 2012 showed that in our developing IT sector, women comprised of 14% workforce and out of these 14% only 13% are at senior management level.

However, things are changing and women have started to make a dent in the heavily male-dominated startup industry not only internationally but also in Pakistan. They may be small in numbers but they are already making inroads in tech environment by setting up some amazing startups.

Some of the prominent names in the female startups are

Sidra Qasim of Markhor (makers of handcrafted shoes),

Kalsoom Lakhani of Invest2Innovate (supporting seed-stage social enterprises and provides access to capital),

Maria Umar of Women’s Digital League (an online digital services portal focusing on women who are unable to work outside their homes),

Madeeha Hassan of Savaree (a ride-sharing and taxi app) and

Sahr Said of BeautyHooked (an online saloon appointment platform).

According to Saad Hamid (CEO School of Skills), “Our research tells us that there is a lack of support for women in the IT & ITES sector and lack of female leadership. We hope to change that by bringing digital skills to girls so they can learn and become active contributors to the digital economy,”

And one such upcoming opportunity for Pakistani women is “She Loves Tech”. It is a worldwide initiative promoting a global startup competition and international conference to promote technology for women and women in technology.

Lean In China (professional development platform) and Tech Rock (boutique event agency) kicked off the She Loves Tech initiative in the middle of this year. The preliminary rounds scheduled to be held between June 2017 to August 2017 at eight (8) multiple locations across the world with the finals held during an international conference in Beijing, China on September 16, 2017.

As of date, the preliminary rounds had been held in Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Germany, Indonesia and China. The rounds for Pakistan and Israel are scheduled to be held in the second half of August this year.

This international initiative has been introduced to Pakistan this year by CIRCLE. CIRCLE, Pakistan is a social enterprise created to develop and build the entrepreneurial and leadership capacity of women in Pakistan.

According to Co-founder of Circle, Sadaffe Abid, “all over the world more and more women are creating multimillion dollar businesses and it won’t be wrong to say that women are the next growth market.”

The Pakistan round will take place on August 19, from 3 to 6 pm at JS Auditorium (IBA City Campus).

The winning team from Pakistan will go to the global finals of the competition (September 16, 2017) in China. Prior to the finals, the team will also get a chance to attend a week-long boot camp which will include, panel discussions, networking opportunities, trips to leading tech companies, workshops on personalized pitch preparation etc.

During the competition, venture capital companies like Teja Ventures, SOSV, and other affiliate funds will be actively looking for investment in these upcoming startups.

According to a recent techjuice.pk article following women focused startups have been shortlisted for She Loves Tech’s Pakistan event.

qayaam  (accommodation),

shekab (shared taxi services),

docthers (healthcare),

kafayak (financial service),

theedvolution (education),

eln (training),

trashit (recycling),

sehatkahani (healthcare & telemedicine ),

merapaisa (fintech)

and auratraaj (social).

I wish all the best to these participants for the upcoming Pakistan round.

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