The world’s largest women and tech startup competition, She Loves Tech, is returning to Pakistan this year. Brought back by CIRCLE, a social enterprise focused on women’s economic empowerment and inclusion, She Loves Tech is the perfect opportunity for startups — especially those led by female entrepreneurs — to pitch their innovations and ideas in front of a large audience.
As a global competition held in over twenty countries, including China, France and Germany, She Loves Tech is a highly anticipated event for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their creations on an international stage, and achieve the valuable promotion and visibility to stand out in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Intended to empower female startups, the competition is also open to any startup with a wide female consumer base and products geared towards positively impacting women.
She Loves Tech 2019 is interested in early stage tech startups with viable products past their conceptual stage, or if they fulfill at least one of the following criteria: Have a product designed specifically for women; Have a product that addresses a problem which disproportionately affects women; Have a significant proportion of female consumers; Have at least one female entrepreneur on the founding team.
Last year, CIRCLE hosted three regional rounds in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad with 10 startups shortlisted out of more than a hundred for the final round at NIC Karachi. This year, the competition will be expanding to two new cities Quetta and Abbottabad. Their aim is to provide women with a platform and networking opportunities, in order to create a robust ecosystem in underserved areas which are often overlooked.
The three winners of the national competition will receive cash prizes, and the final winner will be flown to Beijing for the Global Finals to compete against more than 20 startups from around the world. This is an opportunity for the startup from Pakistan to attend high-level boot camps, visit leading technology companies such as Baidu or Xiaomi, interact with international investors and mentors, and receive an equity-free cash prize of $15,000 if they win the Global Finals.
The 2018 Pakistani winner was Saba Khalid of Aurat Raaj for her educational artificial intelligence chatbot Raaji which answers queries regarding taboo female subjects such as menstruation, reproduction, mental health, child abuse and consent amongst others. Khalid went on to the final round of the competition in Beijing, China.
The 2017 winner was Anusha Fatima of Trashit, a startup that aims to eradicate the problem of trash disposal by turning household waste into fertilizer. Past finalists have also included Tez Financial Services and Roshni Rides.
Sadaffe Abid, founder of CIRCLE and former CEO and COO of Kashf Foundation, who brought the competition to Pakistan in 2017 said, “We need to create more opportunities for women to come forward, set up businesses, experiment and take risks. For Pakistan’s prosperity, women have a key role to play. I would also like to see more women investing in Pakistani startups.”
The CIRCLE team will be going from Karachi to Lahore and then Islamabad, Abbottabad and Quetta in July to hold the She Loves Tech 2019 regional rounds. The final round will then be held on August 3, 2019 in Karachi.
The applications for the competition are currently open and the last date to apply is June 15, 2019.