Pakistan’s IT industry is on a roll these days. Recent graduates from the universities are finding their dreams in either building their own products/ideas or realizing them in an easier way in terms of a fine career job in different IT companies.
The ones who chose the hard way to follow their dream ends up in lots of questions unanswered and with no hope of potential investors in future but now those days are long gone. Now you have these incubators or some say accelerators to help you achieve what you have been planning since you struck with an awesome business idea. The startup you have been planning can get an Angel investor to help you realize your dream.
Also Read: Plan9 – What’s Inside?
In an excellent effort to reduce the gap between talented Entrepreneurs, Enterprises and Investors, Kalsoom Lakhani and her team inspired by immense talent in the Pakistan region started a platform named as Invest2Innovate or i2i. Using this platform they help grow innovative businesses & connect them to funding.
It launched in September 2011 mainly focuses on three sectors which includes Agriculture, Energy, ICT4D (information and communication technologies for development). The startups preferred by the i2i accelerator program have to have large impact in the society and they must be able financially viable and sustainable in the longer run.
i2i helps you Grow, Connect and Empower yourself through their extensive four month program which includes legal structuring, branding/marketing, operational support, financial modeling, and measuring social impact.
After the successful completion of four month program the entrepreneurs get a chance to pitch in front of the i2i Angel investors to impress and convince that they have the potential to make their idea/product big in the market. i2i Angel investors is a community willing to fund and support the seed-stage potential enterprises.
Here is an inspiring promo video of the i2i accelerator program featuring one of the famous personalities and a successful entrepreneur Zafar Khan CEO of the organic Zacky Farms.
i2i has an inspiring team of excellent individuals which includes the Kalsoom Lakhani an amazing innovator, mentor and a writer for top notch press media like washington post, huffington post and various other supreme qualities. Then there is Stanford graduate Uzair Khan, the strategy and training lead and Anusheh Naveed Ashraf, the community manager at invest2innovate making a great team to run the company.
First Batch of i2i
The first batch 2012-2013 of i2i program accelerated 5 startups which included the following the teams and ideas:
- BLISS (founder, Saba Gul). It supports marginalized women and girls living in low-income communities in Pakistan. BLISS works schoolgirls who are at risk of dropping out or have never been schooled, as well as low-income women, giving them practical, income-boosting skills to produce quality fashion accessories that can be distributed to high-end domestic and international markets.
- EcoEnergy Finance (operations director, Jeremy Higgs). It delivers affordable clean energy solutions to empower the rural poor in Pakistan. EEF works with rural villages and local partners to distribute solar lanterns and lighting systems to these communities.
- Renewable Energy Solutions (founder, Sajjad Haider). RES provides renewable energy solutions to rural farmers in Punjab, Pakistan. RES primarily builds biogas plants to support small dairy farmers, helping to power their agricultural, dairy and livestock needs, and later moving to provide other forms of biomass for power generation.
- Milk’Op (founder, Asim Hussnain). It organizes, finances, and supports small dairy farmers in Pakistan. Milk’Op aims to both provide income generation opportunities for these small farmers and create a fully integrated modern dairy value chain in the country.
- Organic Pine Nut Enterprise (founder, Zahoor Khan). OPEN is a for-profit enterprise that invests and innovates Pakistan’s underdeveloped pine nut value chain to increase the income & capacity of small farmers.
Second Batch of i2i
The latest 2013-2014 batch of i2i accelerator program shortlisted 7 startups which included the following ideas:
- Reading Room Project (Entrepreneur: Mashall Chaudri): An education technology venture that uses the Internet and blended learning to teach Pakistani low-income students how to self-learn.
- Asli Goli (Entrepreneur: Saim Siddiqui): A for-profit enterprise that leverages mobile technology to detect counterfeit pharmaceuticals and medicines.
- Ideacentricity/OddJobber (Entrepreneur: Adnan Khawaja): An innovative venture that uses mobile/online technology to increase income of low-skilled workers (particularly rickshaw drivers) and match them with jobs.
- Entaly (Entrepreneur: Mustafa Saeed): An enterprise that provides game based learning solutions for higher education.
- Setu (Entrepreneur: Benje Williams): A soft-skills training institute to empower underprivileged Pakistani students and prepare them for the job market.
- Nutri Nysa (Entrepreneur: Junaid Malik): A venture that produces high-end energy bars by working with local farmers in Skardu in the northern areas of Pakistan.
- CureFusion (Entrepreneur: Daniyal Shah): A web based electronic medical record platform that allows medical practices to manage their patient data and practices’ day to day activities in a more efficient manner.
i2i partners with PASHA and various entrepreneurial wings of top Pakistani universities like IBA, KITE and LUMS taking this accelerator program to a whole new level.
Recently i2i got featured on the Fast Company with great admiration. With the first batch already making big in the market and second batch on its way, i2i plans to expand to Tunisia and Bangladesh in the year 2014. We really admire their excellent initiative and tremendous work done till date. We wish them best of luck for the future endeavours.
For more details about the i2i accelerator follow the link: http://invest2innovate.com