The world’s largest women and tech competition, She Loves Tech, was brought back to Pakistan for the third year this summer by CIRCLE, founded by Sadaffe Abid, a leading social enterprise working on women’s economic empowerment, just wrapped up its final round in Karachi on 3rd August 2019. This year, She Loves Tech is happening in 20 locations across 4 continents including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Hong Kong and more.
6 women from the CIRCLE team, including the founder Sadaffe Abid, a social entrepreneur and graduate of Harvard Kennedy School, set off from Karachi on 1st July via the Karakoram Express to kick off the She Loves Tech Pakistan competition’s regional rounds in Lahore, Islamabad, Abbottabad, Peshawar, and Karachi. The CIRCLE team used public transport primarily on this trip to inspire girls and women to believe in themselves, take public spaces and to scout for promising Pakistani female entrepreneurs. She Loves Tech Pakistan is a leading platform enabling women to use their creativity and power of technology to find solutions to problems that Pakistan faces. Each local round consisted of inspiring speeches and panel talks, which covered topics such as the future of work, power of tech and pitches from shortlisted startups. All leading incubators and ecosystem players have been involved as partners for She Loves Tech Pakistan.
On 3rd August, She Loves Tech Pakistan 2019 Finals was held in Karachi at the Arts Council of Pakistan where 12 finalists from all over the country pitched. The event had Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, former State Bank Governor, as the Chief Guest. Leanne Robers, one of the co-founders of She Loves Tech, came in especially to Karachi. A wide array of strong judges, such as NIC Lahore Director Faisal Sherjan, HBL Chief Innovation and Financial Inclusion Officer Abrar Ahmed Mir, Sarmayacar Founder Rabeel Warraich, Head of Ease of Doing Business & Climate Investment, Gov of KP and Acumen CEO and Country Head Dr Ayesha Khan carefully deliberated and choose the startup that would represent Pakistan on a global scale in Beijing.
DOT-Mind Unlocked, led by founder Yishel Khan, was selected as the winner. DOT uses a data driven approach to mental health through a headset that reads brain wave activity to diagnose and treat mental disorders such as ADHD. The runners-up were the Pakistan Space Science Education Centre led by Zartaj Waseem and The Mad Hatters led by Aneeqa Ali.
One of the most inspiring parts was having Somia Khan, a teacher from Orangi Town, sharing her journey of her enthusiasm for coding which she had learnt from scratch in one of CIRCLE’s initiatives Tech Karo and how, in her words, “I wake up thinking of coding and I sleep thinking of coding.”
The national winner will travel to China in September for the She Loves Tech Global Round and compete with innovators from over 20 countries for a chance to win $15,000, participate in a boot camp, meet with mentors and investors and tour leading tech companies.