Posts tagged ‘ICT’

Young innovators are what Pakistan is about

Most people around the world see Pakistan very differently from the way that you and I (Pakistanis) do, and from the way it actually is – maybe because they have never been here; maybe because they believe the myopic coverage on mainstream media; maybe because they have never met the hundreds of thousands of amazing people from Pakistan who are striving to make the world a better place. I strongly believe that we should talk about these people, ensure that others know who they are and what they are doing. Some of them are working on mass philanthropic efforts; yet others are working towards improving the economy on a broader scale … and then there are the young ones who are breaking all stereotypes and working on the cutting edge of technology.

FawwadOne such person, who I am fortunate enough to know, is Fawad Ejaz Bhatti, the CEO of Trequant. Fawad is a passionate young man working to improve the lives of people who suffer from tremors.

I first met Fawad last year when he was studying at NUST in Islamabad. He submitted his Final Year Project for the Tertiary Student Award Category at the P@SHA ICT Awards and won. The judges were very impressed not only with what he was trying to do but also with his attitude and his temperament.

The winners from Pakistan at APICTA 2014He went with us to the Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Jakarta in 2014 and presented Trequant to an international panel of judges and was declared a Runner Up in that category, with Osama Maruf – also from NUST – taking the top award in that category for his product Smart Seth. We could not have been more thrilled. The pride we felt at  the recognition that these young men had attained for themselves and for Pakistan, made everything we have ever done to support them, and others like them, totally worth it.

 Many young people work on Final Year Projects at university as just assignments; they take part in business plan competitions and award programs but once they graduate, they lose all interest in the projects that they  had once spent so much time on.

Not so with Fawad and his team of innovators. I continued to be in touch with Fawad on social media and followed what he was doing in the final year of his undergrad education. Last year he became part of The Nest i/o External incubatee program and I connected him with Shehryar Hydri, CMO of Convo who is a fabulous mentor.

TrequantEarlier this year Trequant joined the Plan 9 Incubator in Lahore. I met him and his team again last week when I visited Plan 9 to catch up with some of the teams there. The Trequant team showed me the watch they had made for tremor patients and told me what it could do. Tremors are a neurological disorder in which hands, head or legs shake involuntarily. Until now patients with tremors have found it difficult to get assessed. The Trequant Tremor Quantifying device enables patients to not only self-assess; it also allows the doctor and family members to monitor the patient’s progress. A dedicated application is able to analyze and track the tremor patterns.

Trequant goodiesSounds amazing, doesn’t it? It fills my heart with so much pride to see these youngsters come up with a product like this. Fawad gave me a package while I was there – the package contained, amongst other things, a personalized letter that I didn’t read there because I thought I might become emotional.

The letter is something they have been sending to some mentors and supporters who have motivated and helped them in their journey … and that is indeed sweet and considerate of them. There is a customized portion though and mine said “Dear Jehan, Hope you are well. Thank you Jehan. Thank you for always believing in me from the very first day. Your motivational talks and words of strength are the reason we have reached this far. We admire your work not just for us but for the tech scene of Pakistan. We at Trequant are on a mission to help 300 million tremor patients around the world using wearable technology. Since you have personally believed in us from the start, we are writing to you to give you the updates.” They then go on to provide the updates and end with this message: ” What we need from you is your vote of confidence and Hunaid, Jehan and Fawwadsupport all along our journey. We want to touch the lives of as many tremor patients as possible. Your support can help us achieve that.”

Fawad, there is no doubt that you and your team are on a mission, on a journey that will benefit a lot of patients around the world. It will be a privilege for me to do whatever I can to support you on your journey. You can always count on me to be there whenever you need me. Well done … and God bless you.

October 23, 2015 at 1:56 pm 2 comments

It is that time of year again

1237091_10153283046220327_631662539_nWhen we first started the P@SHA ICT Awards 12 years ago the goal was simple. There were a few of us who were fed up of hearing people say that there was no innovation happening in Pakistan, that there was no talent, no creativity – in fact some even claimed that we didn’t really have an IT industry.

Debating with them was of little use. We knew that we would never be able to talk our way out of that perception. So what could we do? Why not just show them, we asked ourselves – and indeed in the past 12 years we have!

From the very first year – 2003 – we were surprised at the number and the quality of entries for the P@SHA Awards from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. At first we received nominations from only known P@SHA member companidr-shoab-khan-of-care-makes-his-markes but as people found out that our mission was to recognize innovation in IT no matter whether the company was a member or not, the numbers increased as did the diversity in the kind of companies that applied.

And what a ride it has been so far! Each year we continue to be absolutely amazed
at the quality of products. Some of the same innovators continue to develop new products but each year there are new companies that emerge. Companies from Peshawar and Hyderabad have also started participating and in some cases, 1233464_10151608297625759_1747260324_nwinning! That is a wonderful sign. Pakistan is a large country with talent galore. All we have to do is give people a chance – and there will be no limit to the kind and quality of products that we will continue to see each year.

Celebrating innovation in the Pakistan IT industry is one of my favorite things to do. There is so much to celebrate, so many young people (and some older ones too) who prove again and again that we are a country brimming with talent and creativity; where people with wonderful ideas start companies and transform their ideas into dreams and faisal-khan-gets-gender-diversity-awardproducts that conquer markets, create impact and win awards and accolades.

Has your product ever been recognized? Maybe that’s because you haven’t submitted it to the Awards judging committee. Each year dozens of judges adjudicate and pick the best out of the best.

If you happen to be in Lahore or its vicinity on Monday evening, don’t forget to register to attend the P@SHA ICT Awards.  There is no registration fee but registration is essential I hope to see you there!Invite - PASHA ICT Awards 2015



October 9, 2015 at 9:29 am Leave a comment

Want to attend a fully paid 2 week Startup Immersion Program in the US?

blackbox program logoThe first time I heard about Blackbox Connect was when Mary Grove from Google for Entrepreneurs wrote to me in April 2013  telling me how excited she was to announce that GfE was going to be powering Blackbox Connect‘s Summer 2013 class,. What she said next was even more exciting. She asked if P@SHA would like to invite a startup from our community to participate. As you can imagine, there was only one answer I could give to that question – a resounding YES!

Blackbox Connect is a 2-week immersion program for founders who are based outside the US. Founders will come to Silicon Valley and live at the Blackbox Mansion where they have the opportunity to live and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs from all around the world and partake in an intense agenda of meetings and workshops with entrepreneurs, investors, experts and executives.

Google for Entrepreneurs  covers the cost of the Blackbox Connect program (including airfare, tuition, room & board)  for one founding team from each country.

Criteria for eligible startups are as follows:

— Must be based outside the US

— Only founders (not employees) may attend; up to 2 of the founders can attend

— Founder attending must be proficient in English

— Start up must have launched a technology based MVP (minimum viable product) and gathered feedback from early adopter customers. If product is B2B, then feedback from prospective customers is acceptable.

This was how P@SHA became the official partner for the Blackbox Connect Google for Entrepreneurs funded program in Pakistan.

The first participants selected to go from Pakistan were Groopic and Tunacode (yes I know I said that only one team from each country would be sponsored but the Blackbox team was so impressed with the quality of applications that we sent that they selected two). The second time around the same thing happened – Appography and SMSAll were selected by Fadi Bishara – the founder of Blackbox Connect.

-Ideally, but NOT required: startup should have raised some investment capital, have a team between 2-20, and have a product or service that can be launched globally.

Last week P@SHA put out a call for applications for the next program which will be in the fall. Have you applied? Many of your peers have. If this is the first time you are hearing about this program, and you are interested in applying and expanding your business globally, please go to theApplication Link:

Benefits of participation in Blackbox Connect two week program:

  • Blackbox Connect speakers mentor, inspire and impart their knowledge and experience with the participants in a genuine Silicon Valley Way
  • You live and work within a comfortable environment that is conducive to learning and sharing
  • There are Network events to gain access to Silicon Valley’s best resources of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors
  • Membership of the Blackbox global community
  • By Demo Day, Blackbox Connect Entrepreneurs deliver a refined and compelling presentation, conveying clarity of their vision and direction, understanding what it takes to get  funded by experienced US and global investors and realizing goals for the long term success of their startup

To catch a glimpse of what Entrepreneurs took away from the Blackbox Connect program, have a look at this video

For the last two programs we received about 60 applications. Our local panel of judges went through them and selected the top 10 – 12. This shorter list was sent to the Blackbox Connect team who then interviewed all the shortlisted candidates and finally selected the participants. So who will be the lucky ones for this program? It could be you!!!

June 12, 2014 at 4:16 pm 3 comments

Calling all Tech Innovators!

Awards home page 2013It is that time of year again. P@SHA is on the lookout for innovators in the tech space. We want to recognize and celebrate innovation in the ICT space. This is our 10th year and we are really excited because we know that there are many more techies – young and old – out there who have yet to be recognized. But in order for us to do that, you need to come forward. You can only win if you take part. Go to the P@SHA ICT Awards 2013 website and submit details regarding your product or service so that our panel of judges can shortlist the best of the best in each category.

The categories are divided into two distinct parts: Products and Services. There are 17 Product Categories and 12 Service Categories.

Product Categories include:

Best in Communications Applications
Best in E-Government Applications
Best in E-Learning Applications
Best in E-Health Applications
Best in E-Inclusion & E-Community Applications
Best in E-Logistics & Supply Chain Management Applications
Best in Financial Applications
Best in Green & Sustainable IT Applications
Best in Industrial Applications
Best in New Media & Entertainment
Best in Research & Development Applications
Best in Secondary Student Project
Best Startup Company
Best Tertiary Student Project
Best in Tools & Infrastructure Applications
Best in Tourism & Hospitality Applications

Note: Winners in the Product Categories will be required to represent Pakistan in the Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Hong Kong in November 2013.

Service Categories include:

Best in Animation
Best in BPO
Best in Brand Development
Best in CSR
Best in Export Growth
CIO of the Year (Private Sector)
CIO of the Year (Public Sector)
Best in Gender Diversity
Best in HR Excellence
Best in Mobile Applications
Best in Managed Services
Best in Project Management
Best in Service Innovation
Best in Social Media (IT Company)
Best in Social Media (Non-IT Company)

 This year the P@SHA ICT Awards will be held in Islamabad for the first time. Email invitations will be sent out after Ramzan.

If you are a technology innovator, or you know of any ICT innovators across the country, make sure that all of you take part in the P@SHA ICT Awards by submitting your product or service to the P@SHA ICT Awards 2013. Deadline for entries is August 8 2013. Please don’t wait till the last moment. Apply NOW!

July 22, 2013 at 11:02 pm 8 comments

Breaking News: A P@SHA LaunchPad perk for a winner or two from Karachi

If the offer of cash awards and expert mentoring at the P@SHA LaunchPad events wowed you, there is JUST ONE MORE perk for a winner or two from Karachi that I need to tell you about.

If the judges think that one or two or all three winning ideas from Karachi are ideas that are likely to become our next tech stars, P@SHA will connect them with Dot-Zero, the new community, co-working space coming up in Karachi next month. Dot-Zero is one of the grantees of the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund and they have agreed to incubate some of the P@SHA winners (who require working space).

Dot-Zero is the brainchild of three tech entrepreneurs – Farzal Dojki, Imran Moinuddin and Atif Azim who were later joined by one of our very successful entrepreneurs Yusuf Jan, of Mixit Inc. fame, as a Board Member and an Angel Investor.

Farzal, a graduate of UT Austin, worked for 3 startups in Pakistan before founding Next Generation Innovations in Karachi. He is also a co-founder of Venture Dive, another local startup.

Atif’s claim to fame amongst other things is that he was the founder of Perfigo, a technology startup in Silicon Valley, which was acquired by Cisco Systems. He went to Imperial College London &  Stanford before founding Perfigo.

Imran is also a graduate of Stanford and the founder & CEO of Nex Degree. His organization catalyzes the growth for four socially conscious startups.

So what is Dot-Zero? Briefly, it is a not-for-profit community working space that hopes to be the fertile ground from which innovative tech starts will emerge. It is a space where networking, collaboration and an exchange of ideas will flourish. For more details regarding the project, check out this complete slide deck.

It is an amazing project that still requires some funding so if you have some extra money lying around that you want to contribute, do contact the Dot-Zero team.

In the meantime, we are trying to see if we can find some perks for aspiring entrepreneurs from Lahore and Islamabad as well.

Karachi Plug and Play from Farzal Dojki

June 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm 2 comments

Additional information on the P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 process

P@SHA LaunchPad logoAs most of you are aware, registrations for the P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 close tomorrow at 5 pm. If you haven’t registered your idea or startup product/service yet, go do it NOW! You can apply to participate in the P@SHA LaunchPad events at We have already received a lot of entries from across the country. The Oversight Committee will go through them on June 19 and we will notify the shortlisted candidates on the evening of June 19.

There are three categories this year:

  • Innovative Idea for an ICT product/service
  • Startup with an Innovative ICT product/service
  • Innovative Idea which uses ICT for Social impact

There will be a winner in each category in each of the three cities (i.e. a total of 9 winners). If you have applied from any city other than Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad, you need to email and inform us which of the 3 cities you will be able to present in.

This is the process that will then be followed:

1. June 19 evening – Shortlisted Candidates will be informed. They will have to confirm that they will present their idea/startup on the following dates:

KARACHI – June 22 – Karachi Marriott – 3 pm to 6 pm

LAHORE – June 25 – LUMS – 5 pm to 8 pm

ISLAMABAD – June 27 – from 5 pm to 8 pm (Venue To Be Announced)

2. On the Presentation day in each city, shortlisted candidates will be asked to present a 5 minute pitch regarding their idea/product or service. This will be followed by a 5 minute Q&A session. The Panel of judges comprising experienced IT entrepreneurs from the local community in each city will determine the winning idea in each category. To assist you in preparing your pitch, we are attaching a template here P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 Template. You do not have to use this – it is meant to give you a sample of what is expected from you.

3. Judging Criteria – Each idea or product/service will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Does it solve a Business, Individual or Community problem?
  • Is it innovative?
  • Is there a viable market for it in Pakistan or elsewhere?
  • Does such a product already exist? How is this one different? What is the competitive advantage?
  • What is your business model? How will the idea be sustainable?
  • Is the team able to deliver on the idea?
  • Communication Skills – your ability to present the idea well

4. Mentoring – The winning ideas will be assigned mentors to help them develop the idea/product/service.

5. Cash Award – Each winner in the three categories in each city will receive Rs. 200,000 to help them develop the idea/product/service.

6. Register to attend the event – Whether you are shortlisted to present or not; whether you have submitted an idea or not, you are welcome to attend the events in each city. Though there is no registration fee, you will however have to register to attend the events at: Please only register if you are planning to attend the events so that we can make arrangements accordingly.

Watch this space as another exciting announcement will be made TONIGHT!

June 17, 2013 at 5:23 pm 2 comments

P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 – Apply NOW!

P@SHA Launchpad Logo scaledGood news! The P@SHA LaunchPad event is back in full force with events scheduled in Karachi on June 22   in Lahore on June 25 and in Islamabad on June 27, 2013.

The vision behind P@SHA LaunchPad is simple – find the best technology ideas and start-ups, bring them in front of the Pakistan IT industry’s most experienced and influential professionals and entrepreneurs and highlight them through online showcases and social media.

The purpose is to create a platform where young people with great ideas, and where early-stage companies with innovative products, can have the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of people who ask relevant questions, make suggestions to help develop the idea or product, assist with market identification, mentoring and possibly investment.

You should be interested in participating in the P@SHA LaunchPad events if you are:

  • A new startup with a product or service that you have been working on and wish to launch
  • A young person/team who have an idea for a product or service that you want to pitch
  • Anyone who has a product or service idea that uses technology for Social/Community impact

Startup entrepreneurs and young people with Ideas will be put in the hot seat where some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business executives will grill them in front of an audience of their peers.

There is bound to be:

  • One startup product/service ready for launch and
  • One innovative idea
  • A social impact product/service

that will no doubt stand out – these will be the P@SHA LaunchPad Stars and all three will be given a cash award of Rs. 200,000 each and highlighted on as many platforms as possible.

The panel of experts and mentors that we have identified in each city will no doubt bring a lot of value to the event and spark lively discussion that will add to the strengthening of the entrepreneurial eco-system.

Deadline for entries is June 18, 2013. 

Fill in this form and we will let you know by the June 19, 2013 if you have been shortlisted to participate. If you are shortlisted, you have to make a 5 minute presentation at the events on June 22, June 25 and June 27.

June 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm 6 comments

P@SHA LaunchPad 2011 at ITCN Asia in Karachi

Are you

  • A new startup?
  • Do you have a new product that you want to launch?
  • Do you have an idea for a product or service that you want to pitch?

The vision behind P@SHA LaunchPad is simple – find the best technology ideas and start-ups and bring them in front of the Pakistan IT industry’s most experienced and influential professionals and entrepreneurs, get feedback and win a cash prize.

The purpose of P@SHA LaunchPad is to create a platform where young people with great ideas, and early-stage companies with innovative products, can have the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of people who ask relevant questions, make suggestions to help develop the idea or product, assist with market identification, mentoring and possibly investment.

Experts will be brought in to mentor and judge startups on product development, business models, identifying markets, design, SEO/SEM and usability. Startups and Idea pitches will be put in the hot seat where some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business executives will grill them in front of the audience.

There is bound to be one idea and one product that stands out – these will be the P@SHA LaunchPad Stars and will be given a small cash award and highlighted on as many platforms as possible.

We plan to have a Demo Pit where young innovators can showcase their idea and talk to experts, potential investors and professionals in much more detail. The idea is to generate excitement and energy around ICT innovation and motivate more young people into starting their own companies and making them successful.

Last year the panel of experts brought a lot of value to the event and sparked lively discussion and debate. We are hoping that with each additional event, the group will energize further.

Dates to watch:
P@SHA LaunchPad: Sept 20, 2011 at 2.15 pm at ITCN Asia, Expor Center Karachi
Last date for Nominations: September 15, 2011

Nominate your startup, product or service idea at NOW and win a cash prize of Rs. 100,000 and be attached to a mentor who will help you shell out your idea and guide you on how to take it forward.

Submissions will be assessed and shortlisted candidates will be asked to present to a panel of judges at the event on September 20. See you there!

September 8, 2011 at 10:13 pm 3 comments

I don’t forward Violence & neither should you

When I first read this statement, I didn’t understand what it really meant. What does “not forwarding violence” mean? Why would I condone violence, let alone spread it? But as I read this message on the Take Back the Tech website, it began to sink in

How many times have you received a forwarded message that contains photographs or a video of someone being violated or humiliated? What do you do with it?

Many of us do not stop and think about the potential long-term impact of our action when we record, share and pass on information using ICT.  In each act of viewing and forwarding, we continue and replicate the violence.  With this pledge, we encourage you to stop and think. You have the power to stop the spread. Take a stand. Don’t forward.

  • I am firmly against violence against women.
  • I will NOT forward any form of message, video or photograph of someone being violated or humiliated.
  • I will NOT forward any form of message, video or photograph that violates another person’s right to privacy.
  • I WILL NOT forward violence.

Isn’t it strange how many of us naively spread the message and visuals of violence without realizing it? In fact we probably think we are advocating against violence by sharing these visuals. With the currently available communication tools which are so easy to use and with the emergence of Social Media, it is as easy as pressing a key. We click without thinking, we forward without realizing the harm we are causing, we share everything from photos to videos to comments to real names and locations without an inkling of what we are doing, without considering that by doing so we are in fact perpetrating the act of violence to a much broader degree, thus harming the very people we want to help.

So from now on let us think before we forward anything. Let us assess what kind of impact our action will have. Let us ‘not forward violence.’


March 2, 2011 at 12:06 am 2 comments

Ten IT companies amongst Pakistan Fast Growth 25

The names of the winners of the Pakistan Fast Growth 25, a ranking of fast growth entrepreneurial companies, was announced today.  The Pakistan Fast Growth 25 is a program of the AllWorld Network in partnership with Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter and was launched in collaboration with JS Bank Limited.  Joining the Pakistan 25 were Nominating Partners P@SHA, FPCCI, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, TiE, and Knowledge Partner Mishal (Pvt.) Ltd. The Pakistan Fast Growth 25 companies have grown an average of 81% a year for the past three years.  They paint Pakistan in a new light, suggesting that Pakistan is a strong country for entrepreneurship, said the Press Release.

What is even more interesting to note is that as a group, the Pakistan 25 broke AllWorld records for high growth of 8 countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.  The companies who made the Pakistan 25 posted a 81% annual growth rate between 2007 and 2009 with an average size of 400 employees per company, and since inception they have created 12,000 jobs.  On average the entrepreneurs are 41 years old, with a number having founded other successful companies.  Leading the Pakistan 25 growth rankings are companies in High-Tech and Telecommunications, and Agriculture and Textiles.  Many of these rising Pakistan 25 companies are not just serving local markets, but are competing globally.

Malik Ahmad Jalal, AllWorld’s Director of the Pakistan 25 said in a statement that “Pakistani entrepreneurs have flourished in spite of some of the most restricting economic and security environments in the world. These dynamic men and women are a great resource and the best bet for Pakistan’s future.  US Ambassador Cameron Munter will host the Awards Celebration for the winners at his residence on 24 January 2011 which will also be graced by  Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and other VIPs.

Around 100 companies competed for a spot on the Pakistan 25.  Only the fastest growing private companies make the list, and each company is credentialed by AllWorld based on strenuous international standards.  Of the 30 companies that made the Pakistan 25, Lahore had the most number with 12 winners and Karachi came in a close second with 10 winners.

Interesting to note is that amongst the top 25, the top 10 were IT companies. So who says that the IT sector is not growing and not contributing to job creation. These companies have proven all nay-sayers wrong. Well done guys! We are extremely proud of you.

Jamal Khan, CEO of Arpatech that ranked third on this list says that his strategy was to develop a small number of anchor relationships and grow with those firms. I am an optimist, he said, about Pakistan’s potential and its people. Pakistan is a compelling market with a tremendous resource pool of talented engineers and entrepreneurs. Arpatech develops innovative solutions for complex problems, and they do this by aligning themselves closely with their clients.    Focusing on deep relationships with a select number of customers is often counter-intuitive to a fast-growth business model, but this was key to gaining and international clients post 9-11 and sustaining those relationships in spite of turbulence in Pakistan. Arpatech looks to grow by focusing on incubating ideas and taking those to market. They are also looking at setting up a second office in Malaysia or the Middle East.

At Number 5 is which is the world’s fastest growing online trading platform. It connects over 4.9 million importers, exporters and traders in more than 240 countries including USA, UK, China, Germany, France, India, Pakistan and the Middle East. Aiming to make “doing business easier”, was founded in 2005 and within a short span of just over 4 years it is now ranked among the top 5 online B2B marketplaces of the world. Junaid Mansoor, the CEO of TradeKey says that his vision for the next 5 years is to make TradeKey a name that would be trustworthy and well known to Worldwide SMEs and will become a core part of their business process. TradeKey will reach out to 20,000 different cities of the World by forming partnerships with local entrepreneurs, and provide a kick-start environment to nurture entrepreneurship.

At Number 6 is Sofizar, a B2C Internet Marketing company with development and operations based out of Lahore, PK. Sofizar is aggressively pursuing a very rapid growth path with its experienced management, excellent team and a great track record since its inception in April, 2004. While Sofizar has worked with premier clients like government agencies and large multinationals, for exporting its technologies, their focus has been marketing directly to consumers. After clocking high growth rates over the past 3 years, Sofizar has annual sales of over $20 Million in 2009 through its Live Events Vertical Search Engine as well as its Events Tickets Business. Sofizar continues to be profitable by maintaining healthy margins as well as by rapidly growing its top line revenues.

Zafar Khan, CEO of Sofizar, says that his vision is that Sofizar will be the global leader in Search Engine based E-commerce and Lead Generation and they intend to be Pakistan’s first internet marketing billion dollar capitalization company. If anyone can do it, this man can!

Pakistan 25 Ranked List

Pak25 Complete Winners List

AllWorld was co-founded by Deirdre Coyle, Anne Habiby and Porter.  Professor Porter was described by the Times of London as the world’s “most influential management guru” and is widely regarded at the foremost authority on company and country competitiveness.   “The Pakistan 25 companies, led by dynamic men and women, represent the leading edge of a new approach to Pakistan’s competitiveness” says Porter.

AllWorld is also launching the Pakistan 100, and companies are invited to apply at at the Asia 500 section.  AllWorld aims to advance ALL the growth entrepreneurs of the emerging world, and building the largest entrepreneurship information system in the world.   For more information on the Pakistan 25 visit

January 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm 16 comments

Meet Sohail Abid – a freelancer who is a real trailblazer!

Pakistani freelancers have made quite a mark on sites like Rent-a-Coder, oDesk and Elance. They have shown that despite the challenges that they face in terms of power outages and connectivity issues, they have been able to meet customer deadlines and more than live up to the expectations of customers from across the globe. Some estimate that the freelance business via these sites may be as high as US$40 – 80 million which is truly amazing. We are going to try and find a way to substantiate this figure by conducting some specific research this year.

In the meantime, it is still a wonderful day when you come across someone like Sohail Abid who shows you that freelancers are going beyond just delivering outsourced work.

Sohail is a cultural analyst who also happens to be a software engineer by some weird act of God. He had quite a good career in the Pakistani software industry but says he quit after 3 years when during an interview for a new position, he asked for better salary than they were offering, and the potential employer said to him “If you are that good, why don’t you work for yourself?” So he did just that. He refused their offer, and started working on his own. He had been working as the team lead/project manager at that time. “And I have never looked back.” says Sohail. “9-5 is a big no-no for me now.”

So what has Sohail done that has prompted this post? Well, he has done many things (he wanted to be a physicist, studied software engineering, wrote an existentialist novel, and ended up in cultural research. About 9 months ago he also embarked on a Motorcycle tour of Pakistan). I may write about all that in detail some time but, at this moment, the Breaking News is that he has developed a WordPress plugin that gives users something Facebook isn’t offering: the ability to embed their public material on their blogs. It is called “Embed Facebook” and lets one embed various Facebook objects (albums, single photo, page, event, video, group, or note) in a blog post by simply pasting the URL.

Here’s a demo of the plugin:

This plugin is available from the official WordPress plugins repository: (and has been downloaded 7000+ times in less than two months, which is a success from a wordpress plugin perspective as they are only used by website owners, not end users like iPhone apps :).

So when we assessing the talent that exists in Pakistan, let’s not forget that other than the companies, there are many freelancers who are marching to their own tune and doing their own thing – all below the radar. Well done Sohail. We are proud to know you. Keep doing whatever your heart tells you to because it is your passion (in addition to your hard work and talent) that has resulted in some of the wonderful work you have been able to do thus far.

January 15, 2011 at 12:17 am 18 comments

Three cheers for the TBTT PK nightingales!

Well here it is finally – the Take Back the Tech! song for 2010 from Pakistan. The lyricist is Bina Shah and the nightingales are our own TBTT activist Nighat Dad and our brand new TBTT activist Maleeha Azeem. Maleeha has also composed the music and produced the song. Isn’t it absolutely awesome? Absolutely out of this world in my opinion. Three cheers for Bina, Maleeha and Nighat – hip hip hooray! hip hip hooray! hip hip hooray! 🙂

December 10, 2010 at 12:11 am 8 comments

Ayeshah Alam supports TakeBacktheTech!

Ayeshah Alam Khan is a film producer and director. She is also a television talk show host, an activist for various causes, a blogger, a tweeple, a parent, a wife …. And many other things.

I spoke to her about TBTT and she readily agreed to endorse the campaign. In this video she shares her views on harnessing technology and using it for your own benefit.

December 4, 2010 at 11:42 am 2 comments

TakeBacktheTech discourse at T2F

The Take Back the Tech! Interactive Session at T2F went off like a breeze. Some really engaging people showed up. We started the proceedings with an introduction to what TBTT was, why the need for this campaign arose and how Pakistan had become part of it, as well as some of the activities that had taken place last year and in 2010.

After the introduction two of the TBTT Small Grants Awardees spoke about their projects, asked for ideas and volunteers. Here are the two videos of these talks by Nuzhat Kidvai and Naveen Naqvi & Sana Saleem.

These talks were followed by a very compelling and powerful film that Beena Sarwar had made on Mukhtara Mai. It was the 9 minute version of the film. Hopefully we will be able to get her permission to put it up soon. The film started off what seemed much like a story circle – starting with comments on Mukhtara’s courage and accomplishments and her ability to reach out and help others, with other people sharing their experiences of abuse. It was really an intense session.

Sabeen Mahmud then moderated a session on Online Social Activism. On the panel were Beena Sarwar who has been a journalist and a part of the women’s movement, Atiya Dawood an activist and a poet, Farieha Aziz a young magazine journalist. Although the discussions started with the panel, everyone took part. The main question was whether online activism, online petititions, etc were actually effective and what was the reason that street protests were no longer the norm – why did people not turn up for them. The discussion was in English and Urdu with differing views – some saying that nothing could replace street protests, others of the view that with distances and security issues, and people being busy, online was where most of the mobilization and activity took place. I will put up the video in the next day or so.

All in all it was a great session. All attendees got TBTT t-shirts and bands on which they were asked to write their own TBTT activism slogans.

December 4, 2010 at 8:33 am 2 comments

Here come the TBTT nightingales!

Nighat Dad and Maleeha Azeem are hard at work trying to get one of two Take Back the Tech! songs out. If rumours are to be believed, there is just some fine-tuning left and the song will be launched. Poor Maleeha went down with the flu otherwise we would have had it by now.

Anxiously waiting to hear it girls! Kudos for putting in the time and effort.

December 1, 2010 at 9:37 pm 2 comments

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