4 promising female tech entrepreneurs from Pakistan

Published: October 15, 2015
Tech in Asia
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PHOTO: TECH IN ASIA

PHOTO: TECH IN ASIA

There’s a lot of debate about the disproportionate representation of women in tech and what needs to be done for a more diverse workplace. You know there’s a problem when only 5 per cent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women and it’s an issue constantly highlighted by the Western press.

While Pakistan is by no means a vanguard for women’s rights across the world, it has to be said that the country has a long tradition of women leading from the front. Pakistan was the first Muslim nation to have a democratically-elected female head of state (eat your heart out, America!).

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Its constitution guarantees a fixed number of seats for women in parliament, and many important ambassadorial positions are currently staffed by women. Women are active in corporate circles, advocacy and rights groups, and increasingly, tech start-ups.

In no particular order, here are four women who are building innovative companies in Pakistan.

1. Madeeha Hassan

Madeeha is co-founder of Savaree, a ride-sharing and taxi app start-up that was borne out of a civic hackathon. At the time Madeeha was employed as a graphic designer, but quit her job to work full-time on the idea.

Savaree has had its ups and downs, but it’s solving a glaring problem – traffic in Pakistan is notoriously bad, and public transport lags behind. Savaree has been through various stages of incubation and acceleration. As mainstream Pakistani consumers warm up to the idea of transacting online, it seems poised to take off.

2. Sidra Qasim

Sidra is co-founder of Markhor, the first Pakistani start-up to be accepted into Y Combinator. Markhor, which makes luxury handcrafted shoes, burst on to the scene when it flew past its Kickstarter funding target by US$92,000, attracting backers from 32 different countries.

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The start-up’s value proposition lies in its ethical commitment to empower the craftsmen it employs – wages are much higher than existing market rates and they’re treated as part of the team. Still a long way to go for the company, but all signs paint a positive picture.

3. Arusha Imtiaz

Arusha is the co-founder of MySmacEd, a communication platform which enables real-time sharing between parents, teachers, students, and administrators. The edtech start-up raised seed funding earlier this year, valuing the company at US$2 million.

Arusha says they work on a freemium model – and have already expanded into the Middle Eastern market, where they have a few schools running a pilot program.

4. Sahr Said

Sahr is the founder and CEO of BeautyHooked, a marketplace for beauty services and professionals. The potential in this space is huge – the market is highly fragmented and ripe for disruption. Women in Pakistan are no different from others across the world – they like to take care of themselves.

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Sahr, a former banker and Cornell business school graduate, plans to eventually move away from the marketplace model and also introduce a white-label ecommerce platform, selling beauty and fashion products.

This article originally appeared on Tech In Asia here.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Oct 15, 2015 - 4:50PM

    These are the examples which are to be followed to set a model society in the world.
    The women should have equal rights and oppertunities specialy in IT to make Pakistan a real progressed nation.Recommend

  • Aviator
    Oct 15, 2015 - 4:58PM

    Great achievements, well done to all!Recommend

  • troll
    Oct 15, 2015 - 6:28PM

    Pakistan was the first Muslim nation
    to have a democratically-elected
    female head of state (eat your heart
    out, America!).

    She was no ordinary working women, she was related to some elite personalities in Pakistan. A ordinary woman or a man can never dream of being anything in Pakistan.

    While in US, not electing a woman as a leader hasn’t hindered its development and welfare. While in Pakistan, the woman who was elected as leader would have never been elected as leader had she not been related to elitist Muslim leaders. It doesn’t matter whether you are a woman or man in Pakistan, as long as you have business worth billions, you are free to run country.

    Pakistan was created for elitists, by elitists and will always remain for elitists.

    A few generals and billionaire politicians loot and plunder the country the way they want, and a common man has to pay for it all.Recommend

  • Tech guru
    Oct 15, 2015 - 7:32PM

    As promising as the government of Pakistan – keep promoting startups that are not profitable.Recommend

  • Oct 15, 2015 - 10:25PM

    But how many of these women were educated, or still live in Pakistan? As the author mentioned, pakistan is no place for women to succeed. Recommend

  • Syed Mashhood
    Oct 16, 2015 - 12:01AM

    Great achievement by the Pakistani women.The nation needs more women like them in order to progress in all the sectors to be in equality with the male dominated world…Recommend

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