Last year, five hopeful social entrepreneurs came together for Plan 9, the PITB’s (Pakistan Institute of Technology Board) Tech Incubator, in Lahore, Pakistan, to present their start-up ideas to a host of potential investors.
The young entrepreneurs were part of a relatively new initiative called Invest2Innovate (“i2i” for short), a social enterprise intermediary that not only trains newly launched social entrepreneurship initiatives in Pakistan, but also connects them to i2i’s global investor network – i2i Angels.
Members of i2i’s first Accelerator Class in 2012included BLISS, a company that produces high-end fashion accessories, handmade by marginalized Pakistani women; Milk’Op, a social enterprise that supports and finances dairy farmers in the country; and EcoEnergy Finance (EEF), which provides clean energy solutions to rural communities in Pakistan; among others.
These dynamic entrepreneurs were part of i2i’s first Accelerator Program, where they were trained and given one-on-one feedback and support by mentors before their big pitch, meet and mingle with heavy-duty investors at Plan 9, straight after the commencement of the i2i workshops.
Founded by a young, dynamic Pakistani, Kalsoom Lakhani in 2011, I first heard about Lakhani when her well-known blog Chup! Changing Up Pakistan went viral a few years ago. The blog covered every topic under the sun related to Pakistan, and Lakhani’s impartial and fresh reportage would oft get quoted in local and foreign media alike. While the blog has been put on the backburner for a bit, i2i’s CEO Lakhani came across as a hands-on, happy and highly passionate young woman when I met her at the PITB’s massive, sprawling, and high-tech building in Lahore late last year.
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