A group of female Pakistani entrepreneurs are visiting the University of Oregon this month to connect with American investors, mentors and executives, and to learn how to start and scale their own businesses in Pakistan.
The exchange program is sponsored by RAIN Catalysts, a Eugene-based nonprofit that won a two-year cooperative agreement from the U.S. State Department to advance gender equity at university incubation centers in Pakistan.
The UO’s Women’s Innovation Network is partnering with RAIN Catalysts on the program and will host 13 Pakistani women from Bahria University, Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, and COMSATS University, as well as one faculty member from Bahria University and a staff member from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
WIN will host events in partnership with RAIN Catalysts. WIN, funded and administered by the UO’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, is designed to help faculty members, graduate students and community members bring their research to market and to help entrepreneurs navigate gender-based barriers to launching and sustaining their businesses,.
The Pakistani women will meet with UO faculty members, attend workshops and networking events, and tour accelerator programs hosted by RAIN’s partners from around the state. The program runs from Aug. 23-31.
The exchange program was created to establish links between American and Pakistani universities for faculty training and development, and to create connections between Pakistani and American female entrepreneurs.
Last year, Pakistani startups raised more than $300 million in investments, more than the previous five years combined. But just 1 percent of entrepreneurs in Pakistan are women. The exchange program aims to address that gender imbalance and foster an inclusive environment for Pakistani women-owned businesses.
—By Tim Christie, Office of the Provost
—Top photo: RAIN Catalysts staff members Aqsa Khan, program Manager, and Caroline Cummings, CEO, host an expo and educational panel for Pakistani women entrepreneurs at the National Incubation Center in Islamabad.