By: Ahsan Yameen
ISLAMABAD: In a landmark event held on August 10th in Islamabad, the pioneering Innovation Challenge Futuremakers (ICF) program celebrated the Demo Day of its inaugural cohort. Aimed at fast-tracking the growth of startups led by individuals with disabilities, the occasion provided a platform for eight exceptional startups to unveil their groundbreaking ideas and innovative solutions. This event spotlighted the significant potential of persons with disabilities within the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Pakistan.
ICF is a visionary collaboration between DeafTawk, a trailblazing startup focused on enhancing the lives of the deaf, and Sightsavers, a globally recognized organization dedicated to preventing avoidable blindness and ensuring equal opportunities for people with disabilities. This transformative partnership, funded by the Standard Chartered Foundation, underscores the impact of cross-sector collaboration in fostering inclusivity, innovation, and positive social change.
The Demo Day marked a pivotal moment for the carefully selected first cohort. Representing all four provinces of Pakistan, these young entrepreneurs with disabilities showcased their innovative solutions across diverse sectors such as automotive, art, food and hospitality, fashion, and education. The event drew distinguished attendees from the startup ecosystem, government, corporate sector, and development agencies, highlighting the importance of creating an inclusive environment that nurtures the talents of all individuals.
Ali Shabbar, CEO of DeafTawk, expressed, “Through DeafTawk, we have witnessed the challenges that entrepreneurs with disabilities face when initiating and growing their businesses. Our collaboration with Sightsavers has provided a robust platform for young disabled entrepreneurs to elevate their ideas and solutions.”
Munazza Gillani, Country Director of Sightsavers Pakistan, commended DeafTawk for leading this initiative and extended gratitude to partners for their support. She said, “Our partnership aims to create a movement where disabled entrepreneurs not only thrive but also inspire countless others. We’re grateful for the generous funding from the Standard Chartered Foundation.”
Tasneem Mirza, Head of Community Impact and Engagement at Standard Chartered Bank, emphasized the bank’s commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities. She stated, “At Standard Chartered, we’re dedicated to nurturing these young founders on their journey towards successful startups, envisioning a future where they become employers and generate job opportunities across Pakistan.”
Asim Shahryar Husain, CEO of Ignite – National Technology Fund, highlighted the importance of inclusive initiatives like ICF for Pakistan’s startup ecosystem. He stated, “These social entrepreneurs have the potential to create not only social and economic impacts but also catalyze lasting change.”
The ICF Demo Day underscores the strength of collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity, showcasing the exceptional potential of individuals with disabilities to drive transformative change in various industries and the service sector.