Recently a theme of an event caught my eye while I was browsing through my Facebook news-feed along with the link for free registration. It does not hurt to get out of your comfort zone for few hours right? So I went through the details, registered myself and shared on various platforms to circulate the word.
I took half-day leave from office on 21st Dec 2015, took a rickshaw and there I was at the auditorium of Arfa Software Technology Park. Maria Umer being the host greeted the participants and kept them engaged through a little introductory exchange till the event started nearly on-time.
This event was collaborated by WomenX and PlanX intended to bring an introductory session followed by Q&A regarding Women Entrepreneurship Program by WomenX which was proceeded by another panel discussion on “Gender Stereotyping- What did it take to get here” and Informative session by Najaf Yawar, Head of Management Science Department at GCU.
The quality of questions throughout the event depicted the genuine interest of the participants which majority consisted of women along with few gentlemen supportive of the women inclusion. The Women Panel took it to another enthralling level by sharing their unique challenges and the solutions they approached to counter those and achieve the transformation we are observing. Here I would love to share brief profiles to give you the picture of the worthiness of the panel:
Saulat Salahuddin is the lead entrepreneur, Co-Founder, and CEO of Pronto Promo (Pvt.) Ltd, a promotional products company that is widely considered to be the leader in this particular in Pakistan.
Shah Rukh is founder and owner of SMARTEK, an interior design business that designs, renovates constructs, and implements space planning with complete turnkey solutions for corporate clients in Pakistan.
Sara Tariq Gillani is currently heading TechHub Connect, Pakistan’s first coworking space designated for freelancers and a platform that connects academia with the IT industry. Previously she was responsible for designing and implementing Plan9 Tech Incubator’s core incubation program. It’s a tailor-made six months program which has till now produced 85 technology startups.
Maria Umar is the Founder and President of The Digital League (formerly Women’s Digital League). Women’s Digital League remains as a separate project of The Digital League focusing on training rural Pakistani Women in micro online tasks. TDL focuses on all kinds of computer-based services such as affordable content writing, virtual assistance, Facebook/Blackberry/iPhone apps, CRM systems, CMS systems, website development, and videography to clients all over the world.
Some details of the organizations involved and particularly of the women entrepreneurship program after the 2-hour sessions will complete the crux of my post.
Plan9- Pakistan’s largest Tech Incubator that was launched in August 2012 has been making waves ever since in providing the prospect for budding entrepreneurs to change their business dreams into a reality using technology as the key component. Following them connected me to so many wonderful success stories of the young blood in Tech sector of Pakistan and their innovative ideas have given a paradigm shift in the Entrepreneurship.
Ms. Maria Umar’s success story intrigued me one day and how she became a household name in the tech industry is an amazing journey to be familiar with. Following her not only connected me to this particular event but also to various tech-related platforms and professionals.
Seeing a female in a field which is generally dominated by men gives you a unique inspiration, e.g if she can do it, why can’t I do that too? rather I must do that too (Determination). Along with their struggles to overcome challenges, there lies untied responsibility on these few fine women to start engaging other women of their societies to create a sustainable change. This course of her led to WomenX- a pilot program providing business education and support services to women entrepreneurs running small and medium-sized enterprises in Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar. Enclude Pakistan (Implementing Partner) was selected by the World Bank to implement the project along with the service provider partners: Aman Center for Entrepreneurial Development (Aman CED) at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Minding HER Business (MHB), Management Studies Department (MSD) at Government College University (GCU) and Institute of Management Sciences (IMSciences).
WomenX supports women entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level, by building business acumen and leadership skills, enabling them to expand their networks and to identify growth opportunities. Over the course of two years, WomenX through batches – each consisting of 4-month training program – aims to support 400 women in Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar.
During the project time period, WomenX will also implement a nation-wide public discourse campaign (Women’s INC.) that aims at showcasing successful Pakistani women entrepreneurs, and to provide business owners an opportunity by providing them a platform to access resources and new networks within the business community.
SO many queries from the audience brought this event to networking over the tea at the end and the panel very humbly catered each and every one of them.
At the end of the day I realized how many free platforms are out there offering so much potential for support to build each other up but alas we hesitate to get out of our comfort zones and invest few of our hours to take part in our personal and professional development. I hope to see more young people and particularly young girls to avail these opportunities to rise. Please do share your experiences also so others can get benefited too.
See you guys Soon
Love and Peace ✌❤