Karachi, 29th December 2019
CaterpillHERs, innovation and entrepreneurship Bootcamp for women-led businesses graduated its first pilot cohort on December 28th, 2019 in Karachi. The pilot phase of this program was funded by the United States Department of State, supported by the United States-based nonprofit organization, Atlas Corps and facilitated by Hira Saeed.
The final 12-pager presentations were evaluated by Faiza Yousuf (Founder, WomenInTechPK), Sabika Abbas (Community and Outreach Manager, The Nest I/O), Nazish Rizwan (Startup Community Executive, NIC Karachi), and Shiri Mehri (Head of Family-Friendly Workplaces, The Pakistan Business Council). The certificates were distributed by Syed Azfar Hussain (Program Manager, NIC Karachi). Other local partners of the program included National Incubation Center Karachi, Momentum Tech Conference and WorkHall.
Founded by Hira Saeed, CaterpillHERs is a social enterprise that provides women-led businesses access to early-stage business curriculum and mentorship. The organization provides women entrepreneurs the necessary resources to refine their idea, find their product/market-fit and prepare them for incubation and early-stage funding within Pakistan and beyond.
The enterprise also aims to help incubators and accelerators worldwide by helping them improve their recruitment pipeline and achieve gender-parity in their cohorts and provide them with vetted and market-ready ideas led by their women founders.
The program followed a month-long curriculum provided by Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, an accelerator based in Silicon Valley. To be able to graduate, entrepreneurs had to finish the curriculum, check-in with their facilitator every Saturday, submit deliverables and prepare a 12-pager presentation as the final requirement.
“According to the World Bank in 2017, Pakistan has the world’s lowest rate of women entrepreneurs. Knowing that we are almost 49% of the entire country’s population, I cannot stand this number,” said Hira Saeed, Founder of CaterpillHERs. “Last year, this program was conceived in my mind when I was in the U.S., surrounded by incredible women entrepreneurs in silicon valley and listening to their journeys. Many brainstorming sessions with stakeholders and the incredible support I got from the Pakistani community made me design this enterprise to facilitate and enable women entrepreneurs who are at the very early stage in their entrepreneurship journey”, she added.
There are only seven countries in the world where men and women own businesses at an equal rate. In Pakistan, there is only 1% of female entrepreneurs as compared to 21% of male entrepreneurs. This is an established fact that the impact women-led businesses can have on job creation and economic growth of Pakistan is match-less and that’s exactly why programs like these are necessary.
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