Purpose of my writing about this topic is to highlight and pay tribute to successful women entrepreneurs of Pakistan. As we all celebrated Women's day yesterday, I thought why shouldn't I write about Women's role in development of our society. Though, women are amazingly talented today and are working in many fields of life along side with men and each of it is exceptionally progressive and I wholeheartedly respect and salute all these wonderfully strong ladies for all their work, devotion, and their contribution to our society. Choosing any particular vocation to write about was quite difficult and after thinking about it a lot I decide to talk about entrepreneurship in Pakistan and women's role in it.
Following is the list of some of the most extraordinary, successful and inspiring women entrepreneurs who, despite all odds, proved their tenacity and continue to contribute to thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan. They sure are inspiration for every ambitious entrepreneur and initiate a fine and innovative business community in Pakistan.
Farieha Aziz is journalist by profession and Co-Founder and Director of Bolo Bhi (Speak up). Bolo Bhi is a non-profit organization engaging in advocacy, policy and research in the areas of gender rights, government transparency, internet access, digital security and privacy. She has also worked at the Newsline as the Assistant Editor from 2007 to 2012 for which she also received the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008. She has also served as amicus curiae in a case filed in the Lahore High Court that challenged the Youtube ban.
Fiza Farhan, the 28-year old entrepreneur is the co-founder of the Buksh Foundation. Since 2009, Buksh Foundation has been operating in Pakistan. Buksh foundation is a microfinance institution that takes clean energy projects to the underprivileged and rural areas of Pakistan. The institution has brought solar powered lights to around 6750 household all across Pakistan. It has also trained 135 women as energy entrepreneurs. The distinguished business magazine Forbes has included her name in its list of 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs for the year 2015.
Plan9 is one of the largest technology incubator in Pakistan contributing to promote the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Plan9’s offshoot accelerator program PlanX that was established to support the mid-stage startups is another landmark in thriving the entrepreneurial culture. When Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) launched the Plan9, Hafsa Shorish was one of its first hire and thus one of its founding members. She has been playing a major role in grooming job creators instead of job seekers initially at Plan9 in capacity of Marketing and PR Manager and afterwards by leading the PlanX as Program Manager. With her exceptional communication skills, she has visited all over Punjab speaking about the mission of her accelerator and incubator while also creating awareness about the importance of entrepreneurship. She believes, “It takes the right mindset and the right team to lead a startup to matchless success.”
Nighat Dad is a lawyer by profession and internet activist. She runs a non-profit organization called 'Digital Rights Foundation' founded in 2012 through which she guides women to educate them about privacy and online security. Her purpose is to raise awareness about global rights and online privacy to protect women from online harassment for which she has also received global recognition . She has won many awards for her work including 2016 Human Rights Tulip award, Atlantic Council Digital Freedom Award. She has also launched Pakistan’s first cyber harassment helpline on 1st December, 2016.
Sabeen Mahmud (LATE)
Sana And Safinaz
The Sana Safinaz label was established in 1989 by Sana Hashwani and Safinaz Muneer. These two have taken over the bridal couture scene in Pakistan and other parts of the world. They have expanded their business far and wide and have stretched their reach till the middle east. You won’t believe that it all started right out of a townhouse house!
Sheba Najmi is the founder of Code for Pakistan which is a non-profit startup to improve quality of life across Pakistan with a vision to increase civic engagement by encouraging the opening of government data, and supporting innovation in the public domain. Sheba began her career as a TV Anchor in Pakistan to her eventful journey to the Silicon Valley, the dynamic Sheba Najmi has worked for Code for America as a 2012 fellow and Yahoo as the Lead Designer. A good number of Startups have come out of the Code for Pakistan under her leadership. A series of events under its ambit called Civic Hackathons have also been arranged in the capital cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The Hackathon is a gathering of a cross-functional group of people who come together to brainstorm about city-related problems and try to find tech-based solutions for them.