LAHORE: Around 12 women-led startups graduated, from the “women only” business incubation center managed by the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, PCSW here on December 31, 2018. At least three of the graduating startups were technology oriented.
In a graduation ceremony organized at the Government College University Lahore, GCU, and attended by the government officials, civil society, private sector and academia, women entrepreneurs showcased their work during and were awarded certificates.
The PCSW launched a business incubator for women led startups and female entrepreneurs under the initiative ‘Women Innovation Network (WIN)’ in July 2018. Housed in Government College University Lahore, the incubator offers a range of services to women entrepreneurs including physical and technological amenities such as co-working space and high-speed internet as well as business support services such as networking opportunities, access to finance and a day care center.
After a competitive selection process, 15 business ideas were selected from different industries including tourism, EdTech, CleanTech, agriculture, food and design.
At least five of the selected women startups are tech oriented in nature. Three of the graduating startups include the The Robotics Club-a startup that helps children learn to make a robot and coding, Hersteller-that aims to offer technology education for women in Pakistan and Biji-an online platform that aims to connect home chefs with the market base looking for home cooked food.
Speaking on the occasion, PCSW Chairperson Fauzia Viqar lauded the entrepreneurs for coming up with novel business ideas. She noted that Pakistan had the lowest rate of female entrepreneurship in the world, with only 1% of female entrepreneurs compared to 21%of male entrepreneurs. She noted the center was created to support women businesses and help them connect with each other. Later talking to Digital Rights Monitor, Ms. Viqar also expressed hope that they intended to set up more incubation centers across Punjab.
Meanwhile, GCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Hassan Shah said in his opening remarks that GCU encouraged the public private partnership for strengthening the entrepreneurship and job creation ecosystem especially for women. “GCU is very proud to partner with Punjab Commission on the Status of Women for their Women Incubator,” he stated.
Chief Guest, Depilex Smile Foundation CEO Musarat Misbah lauded the Win initiative and said, “I believe that initiatives such as PCSW’s premier womens centric incubator will go a long way in addressing these challenges through a solutions oriented approach.”
Guest of Honor Netsol Technologies CEO Salim Ghauri and Secretary Human Rights and Minorities Tariq Mehmood also spoke on the occasion.
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.