LUMS – Supporting Women Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

Gender rights and equal opportunities for women have always been a debatable concept. This is especially true for third world countries like Pakistan. For a very long time, women have been deprived even the acknowledgement that they may possess skills that can help them excel in the professional world. Despite making up more than 60% of Pakistan’s population, their craft has often been overlooked and considered non-lucrative for Pakistan’s economy.

However, the narrative is in a flux and has been for quite a while. Under this mutability comes the hopeful inventiveness of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) National Incubation Centre (NIC) Lahore in cahoots with Karandaaz Pakistan. NIC won a competitive bid under the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2017-18. This led to a productive partnership between NIC Lahore and Baluchistan University of Technology and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) to scout women led business venture like none other.

The National Incubation Center (NIC) Lahore was inaugurated by Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Ms. Anusha Rahman Khan at a ceremony held at Lahore University of Management Sciences on December 23, 2017. NIC Lahore will house the first ever Makers Lab in Pakistan, a modern facility equipped with the latest technologies and smart equipment to bring ideas to life. The 23,000 square feet space not only houses the incubator and accelerator but also provides business acceleration services to incubated companies, a Smart Lab, a Design Thinking Lab and various libraries along with an in-house auditorium.

 

 

 

 

Driven by set guidelines and definitive objectives, the collaborative forces of NIC and BUITEMS sought high growth women led businesses and micro businesses. Their agenda; to further incubate them through the provision of a custom designed world-class curriculum and state of the art facilities paired with professional mentorship and the hopes of becoming a part of the grand business narrative.

After the tireless exploration, women led businesses were further connected to necessary financial sources, information and a network of well-versed facilitators. Furthermore, the micro entrepreneurs were enabled through a rigorous training curriculum at BUITEMS incubation center.

Since these steps were initially taken; 24 micro entrepreneurs were inducted in Quetta and 10 high growth businesses were incubated at NIC Lahore.

After the gruelling process of each business analysing itself to meet set bench marks, taking in the guidance and expanding their vision; the women entrepreneurs graduated on March 9th 2018. This ceremony entailed further empowering of their businesses allowing them to continue growing even after they left the direct guidance of the mentors at NIC.

To be viable graduates, NIC Lahore in collaboration with Karandaaz Pakistan hosted an Investors Summit allowing the women entrepreneurs to put learning into practice in front of a panel of esteemed judges from the managerial body, Karandaaz, Pakistan. The 26 businesses pitched their revamped, redefined and more mature pitches towards the judges. They demonstrated not only their growth under the guidance of NIC but also their approach towards a more sustainable business future.

In efforts to monitor impact, effectiveness and sustainability, the NIC management team used statistics based indicators to ensure NIC’s Key Performance Indicator’s (KPIs) are monitored throughout the structured incubation program.

The NIC regulation proved worthwhile when two high growth businesses; Aero Craft Engine founded by Sarah Qureshi and Zari Faisal Designs founded by Zarlasht Faisal, along with 14 micro entrepreneurs from Quetta received grants and equity investments.

Breaking Barriers: Sarah Qureshi sets out to take over the Aerospace Universe

With a PhD degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cranfield University, UK, Sarah Qureshi set out with a team of four including herself, to introduce a sophisticated new feature into the aerospace universe.

Qureshi is a powerhouse on her own with a Private Pilot License (PPL) and 70 hours of Flying Experience and familiarity in acrobatic flying. Driven by the passion to soar through the sky and to eliminate global warming, Qureshi and her team put together state of the art technology. With the added feature of reduced carbon footprint, her team designed a revolutionary contrail-free aero-engine.

This aero-engine is a unique pressure based condensation system devised specifically for airborne applications. It is a novel addition to the family of gas-turbine components. Not only does the technology reduce the aviation industry’s contribution to global warming by effectively eliminating contrails, but it also signifies a positive contribution of the aviation industry itself. It enables them towards meeting the global challenge of water scarcity by creating localized rain in the process.

Sarah Qureshi’s technology holds the potential to shift the negative impact of aviation to a positive contribution towards the environment.

This sophisticated and unique research project even won the Clean Technology Competition for the 2016 Clean Equity Conference, Monaco and was shortlisted for a few other environmental technology innovation competitions.

The concept is inimitable and the design is patent-protected. Its reliability, minimalism, and ease of implementation within the ecosystem are what set it apart. The design and the technology involved in its development are synergistic with the current technology employed by aero-engine manufacturers. Another unique specification is that it is a supplementary device and can therefore be cohesive to existing aircraft engines.

After being housed at NIC Lahore for four months, Qureshi and her team managed to receive decent investments from Karandaaz allowing them to pilot their project. With a financial plan in place and investors pegging their success, Aero Craft Engine is all set to take the aerospace industry by storm and NIC couldn’t be more proud.

The National Incubation Center Lahore believes in and strives to instill experiential learning through all the entrepreneurs it incubates. With the sole intention to breed sustainable, high-growth and high-impact ventures in Pakistan, NIC stands proud under the success of the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge with the promise that more female-led businesses will continue to flourish under their experienced wings.

So if you have an idea that you believe deserves to be heard and given an opportunity, then LUMS National Incubation Center is the place to be. Put ideas into action and send us your brief at salwa.akhtar@lums.edu.pk so we may scout, home and breed your dream into reality.

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