In what may provide a further boost to women entrepreneurship in Pakistan, DoctHERs, a women-led healthcare start-up, has secured a place in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum (MITEF)’s entrepreneurship development programme. The programme entails an intensive training regimen and meeting with potential investors.
DoctHERs is a healthcare marketplace that connects female doctors to millions of underserved patients in real-time with the help of internet-enabled technologies, video conferencing, on-ground nurses, community health workers and community midwives.
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Nearly 80% of medical school students are female but only 25% registered doctors are women, an indication that female doctors are not able to practice due to socio-cultural constraints, according to Dr Sara Khurram, the co-founder and project director of DoctHERs.
The healthcare start-up is an attempt to bridge this gap by bringing female medical graduates - who can’t practice because of getting married or having a child - back into the workforce, she wrote in a column for this newspaper.
It trains community health workers (trusted nurses) or community midwives to assist doctHERs in assessing patients at point-of-care using diagnostic tools, which create a new health care chain.
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The innovative solution to a major healthcare problem helped DoctHERs win first position in MITEF’s Business Acceleration Programme (BAP) in the category of women-led startups.
An annual contest, BAP helps Pakistan’s IT, telecom and new media companies accelerate their growth. Every year about 15 companies go through four months of training and mentoring to participate in BAP’s three tracks: existing businesses, women start-ups and researchers’ tracks.
The winners get a chance to attend a fully-funded entrepreneurship development programme (EDP) at MIT in Cambridge, US. The intensive training programme is followed by road shows as Pakistani entrepreneurs meet venture capitalists, angel investors and serial entrepreneurs in the US to develop their business on a global scale.
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DoctHERs is joined by OutDoor Advertising Assets (OAA), which won the contest in established companies track, and QueB Technologies, which won in the research track.
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OAA is a data logistic company working on easy access to static information.
The start-up hopes to be a static data engine that offers customers cheap, transparent, and readily available digitised information that will bring self-regulation and transformative changes to “our” economies and how they operate.
The winner of research start-up track, QueB, is developing physical retail (walk-in) customer management system. It is working to build an interconnected network of customer flow management system that processes consumers for the business they wish to deal with in an efficient and enjoyable manner, the company says.
According to Pakistan Software Export Board’s website, some of the companies that participated in this programme saw their revenues grow by five to 10 times and valuation increase by 15 times. For example, Sofizar’s revenue increased from less than $1 million to $30 million in two-and-a-half years.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2015.
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