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NIC Karachi and The Asia Foundation Celebrate 4 Years of Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

NIC Karachi and The Asia Foundation marked a significant milestone in their collaborative journey by hosting the BuiltByHer Alumni Dinner on October 6, 2023.

This event celebrated the remarkable achievements and profound impact of the BuiltByHer initiative over the past four years.

BuiltByHer is not just a hackathon; it’s a transformative platform where female programmers, coders, entrepreneurs, students from diverse fields, artists, and tech experts shine as they present innovative solutions to real-world challenges.

This collaborative effort, spanning four years and involving NIC Karachi, The Asia Foundation, US Consulate Karachi, and UBL, is dedicated to relentless teamwork in empowering women within the realms of technology and entrepreneurship.

Faizan Laghari, the Project Director of NIC Karachi, set an inspiring tone for the evening with a welcome note. He remarked: “The success of BuiltByHer underscores the need for more programs that empower women and nurture their entrepreneurial spirit. This initiative is not just about technology; it’s about changing lives and uplifting entire communities.”

NIC Karachi, an Ignite-funded and LMKT-operated Incubation Center and Startup Accelerator, has played a pivotal role in this initiative. With over 299 startups incubated, 100k+ jobs created, and a remarkable PKR 8.1 billion raised in investments, NIC Karachi stands at the forefront of Pakistan’s entrepreneurial landscape.

The accomplishments of the winners of the four editions of BuiltByHer are a testament to the program’s success. These talented individuals are now incubated at different National Incubation Centers (NICs) across Pakistan, contributing to the growth and development of the country’s startup ecosystem.

The event also featured the insights and personal journeys of some remarkable BuiltByHer alumni winners:

Aqsa Tariq, co-founder of GrowElle and the first winner of BuiltByHer 1.0, shared her story: “BuiltByHer was the spark that ignited my idea. Winning the first edition provided the seed money, and now I’m working on GrowElle full-time, living my dream.”

Mehreen Raza, founder of She-guard and a startup dedicated to biodegradable female hygiene products, spoke about her transformation: “After winning BuiltByHer 3.0, I received seed money from The Asia Foundation, turning my idea into a reality. This program has made a significant difference.”

Nayab Raza, founder of Bhaan, and the impressive team from Food for Soil, winners of the 3rd BuiltByHer, were also part of the discussion, emphasizing the opportunities that this initiative opened up for them.

Sheeza Zahid, co-founder of HER Sahulat and the winner of the BuiltByHer fourth edition, brought her unique perspective to the forefront, highlighting the program’s role in fostering women’s empowerment and social impact.

In an engaging panel discussion themed “Breaking Barriers: Women in Business and the Path to Economic Empowerment,” skillfully moderated by Ahmad Junaid, Manager of Marketing and Partnerships, we had the privilege of hearing from distinguished panelists.

Faiza Yousuf, Co-founder of Code Girls and Co-founder & CPO of Catterpilhers, highlighted the profound impact of women’s empowerment in business. She eloquently stated: “Empowering women in business isn’t solely a moral imperative; it’s a strategic economic move. When we eliminate obstacles and provide opportunities, we unleash a wave of creativity and potential that enriches society at large.”

Shamim Rajani, Founder of Code Girls and COO of Genetech Solutions, underlined the transformative role women play in the business landscape. She emphasized: “Women are dynamic agents of change in the business world. Their distinctive viewpoints, tenacity, and innovative problem-solving inject a fresh perspective into challenges. Supporting women means investing in a brighter future for all.”

Faryal Aslam, the Assistant Director of the Financial Inclusion Division at the State Bank of Pakistan BSC-Karachi, emphasized the profound significance of financial inclusion. She articulated: “Financial inclusion transcends the mere act of opening bank accounts; it’s about unlocking doors of opportunity for women. By providing them access to financial resources, we equip them with the means to establish thriving businesses and attain economic empowerment.”

This enlightening discussion underscored the vital role of women in business and the compelling need to facilitate their journey toward economic empowerment.

The evening concluded with a heartfelt closing note by Haris Qayyum Khan, the acting Country Director of The Asia Foundation. He expressed his delight in the collaboration with NIC Karachi, saying: “Four years of BuiltByHer have created numerous success stories, and we are thrilled with the impact this collaboration has had on women entrepreneurs in Pakistan.”

The BuiltByHer Alumni Dinner served as a reminder of the incredible achievements and the profound impact that women entrepreneurs are making in Pakistan’s tech and business landscape. It celebrated the spirit of innovation and the power of collaboration in creating opportunities for women in technology and entrepreneurship.

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