ISLAMABAD: Over 30 participants competed for seed funding for their businesses at the first U.S. Mission Pakistan Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program on October 28. A panel of judges selected the top three proposals after reviewing their business plans and hearing their pitches. Each winner will receive $5,000, $4,000, and $3,000, respectively, to grow or launch their businesses in Pakistan.
Maryam Iqbal won first prize for her business “Global Nomad,” which promotes the crafts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Abira Younus won second price for her business “Baby Steps,” a daycare and early childhood education center. In third place, Madeeha Malik won for “Dhaaga Clothing,” which provides flexible clothing designs while offering screening services for eating disorders.
With mentoring and guidance from established Pakistani entrepreneurs, 61 female entrepreneurs graduated from the AWE program in early October. After completing the AWE training, participants competed for seed funding to implement what they learned during the course. Chargé d’affaires Angela P. Aggeler congratulated the graduates during the October 2 closing ceremony, stating: “Your success is Pakistan’s success, and we are proud to support you to become Pakistan’s dynamic entrepreneurs, business leaders, and economic influencers.”
AWE is centered around a three-month, rigorous online course called DreamBuilder, developed by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and U.S. natural resource company Freeport McMoran. AWE is designed to cultivate entrepreneurial know-how, help women entrepreneurs connect with funding opportunities, enhance opportunities for business expansion, and increase the likelihood of entrepreneurial success.