Local startup DeafTawk announced plans to expand its operations globally at a ceremony held to officiate the $250,000 grant it has been awarded under The GSMA Innovation Fund for Assistive Tech. The event was attended by Jazz’s Chief Digital & Strategy Officer Aamer Ejaz, GSMA Innovation Fund Manager Bilal Qureshi, National Incubation Center’s (NIC) Project Director Parvez Abbasi, CEO, Ignite Asim Shahryar Husain and representatives from Ministry of IT & Telecom, ACCA, ScaleX, and the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.
DeafTawk is an online sign language services provider enabling people with hearing impairments, and was a part of the third cohort at the NIC under the premium accelerator program, Jazz xlr8. Using the GSMA grant, DeafTawk plans to scale up the application and increase its coverage, building the capacity of its interpreters, in order to reach both national and international audiences. DeafTawk after successfully launching its operations in Pakistan and Singapore is expanding its reach to America, Europe and South Asia. The startup to date has 92,000+ beneficiaries, it has created 1,100 direct jobs, and has a 25% month on month revenue growth.
“Recognition by the GSMA is a testament to the work DeafTawk has been doing and builds on Jazz xlr8’s reputation as a leading accelerator program in the country. This is another win for the local startup ecosystem in what has been a tremendous year so far. These wins double our resolve to help young entrepreneurs take transformational ideas from start-up to scale-up,” stated Aamer Ejaz, Chief Digital and Strategy Officer at Jazz.
“With the support of our donors, like FCDO, The GSMA Innovation Fund aspire to support great ideas and startups like DeafTawk. By helping a community to tackle their inabilities, we think Deaftawk has a potential to contribute exponentially towards digital inclusiveness” said Bilal Qureshi – Manager, GSMA Innovation Fund.
DeafTawk CEO, Ali Shabbar expressed his gratitude stating, “When we pondered over the idea of DeafTawk, we instantly thought of empowerment through technology. And today, as the thought manifests itself into reality, we are glad to receive this grant and deeply honoured by our partners and well-wishers for recognizing our work. We aim to empower the ones who need a voice and bridge the gap with the GSMA.”
Asim Shahryar Husain – CEO, Ignite added, “Ignite through a strong network of NICs across the country has been uplifting the startup ecosystem of Pakistan for the last five years. Our NICs have incubated more than 800 startups which have raised funding of more than $56 million so far. 2021 has been a remarkable year for Pakistani startups with investment of more than $300 million so far and Ignite’s forecast by December is around $400 million.”
The GSMA Innovation Fund is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and supported by the GSMA and its members. This fund aims to address the varied needs of people with disabilities and tackle the barriers to digital inclusion. The Fund received 350 applications from start-ups and SMEs in 31 countries. After a rigorous evaluation process, four final grantees from Asia and Africa were selected by an independent panel of experts, including DeafTawk.
Jazz xlr8 is Pakistan’s leading acceleration program backed by Jazz. This program helps accelerate business to the next level through access to Jazz’s 70 million subscribers, data analytics, marketing support, digital skills workshops, and xlr8 partner benefits worth over a million dollars per startup.