The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) inaugurated the Women Innovation Network (WIN) yesterday at Government College University (GCU), Lahore. The one of a kind incubation centre exclusively for women aims to support women to set up their businesses, enhance their entrepreneurship skills and overcome the challenges they are facing in the market.
At the launching ceremony, US Consul General in Lahore Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau was present as a chief guest of the event. Among other notable figures present was Punjab Minister for Labour and Human Resource Nauman Kabir, Minister for Human Rights Faisal Mushtaq and Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr. Hassan Amir Shah.
Although Pakistan offers incubation centres for aspiring entrepreneurs, there was a gap in terms of a space exclusively designed to cater to the women in Pakistan. The concept of women focussed incubation centre might be new but we have seen coworking space, WeCreate, in Islamabad which provides a safe space for working women or women-led ventures. WeCreatePakistan is an entrepreneurial community centre exclusively for women looking to start or expand an existing business. The program is based over 15 weeks and is backed by the US Department of State.
Women Entrepreneurship in Pakistan comes with its own set of challenges including social and cultural barriers, lack of required finance, limited or negligible daycare options for mothers and workplace harassment. Which is why, in order to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship in women, several initiatives are being taken in Pakistan to make women financially independent. WIN is one of these, taking the learnings from this incubation center, more centers will be developed for women across Punjab.
The WIN Incubator at the prestigious GCU will work on a flexible equity free model. Women can either enroll in the in-house incubation program or a remote incubation program as per their flexibility. The program will also have mentors, advisors, investors and industry experts to guide the women in the right direction.
The applications for the incubation program are open now.