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More women need to shape Pakistan’s digital future

Uzma Quresh's picture
Annie Gul from Codematics tells the audience of what is required to have more women digital entrepreneurs in KP
Annie Gul from Codematics tells the audience of what is required to have more women digital entrepreneurs in KP

“I have always enjoyed studying computer and human physiology since childhood, that’s why I jumped at the opportunity of developing a scientific application with KPITB’s support. This app has even helped my younger brother understand different body organs and their functions in a fun way. The KPITB’s ‘early age programming’ program has supported many girls from public schools, who would otherwise have never received this chance of realizing their dream of developing apps.”

Such compelling words came from Hafsa, a 13-year-old female student of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) public school as she addressed about one thousand young men and women at this year’s Digital Youth Summit (DYS) in Peshawar.

Girls like Hafsa are becoming the face of DYS, an annual event that brings the spotlight on young talent and their digital innovations.

I heard similar passionate accounts during my two-day interaction with KP youth as they shared candidly how they had transformed challenges into opportunities through hard work and perseverance.

DYS has brought together the next generation of digital entrepreneurs since 2014 to educate and inspire youth in a conflict-affected region where 50 percent of people are age 30 or under.

Such forums also provide a space for youth to voice their aspirations and claim for greater and more meaningful socio-economic inclusion.   

And while Hafsa’s impassionate story of progress resonated with everyone in the room, it stood as a stark reminder that Pakistan still has a long way to go to achieve an equal digital future for both men and women.

Indeed, statistics about women’s employment in KP and FATA are alarming as only 14% of women in KP and 8.6% of women in FATA work for pay.

Fittingly, DYS discussed different gender issues and offered solutions to boost female digital entrepreneurship.

Bringing together the next generation of digital innovators in Pakistan: Meet Asra Nadeem

Priya Chopra's picture
The Digital Youth Summit (DYS) is a technology focused conference that takes place annually in Peshawar, Pakistan.  As an introduction to some of our experts, we bring to you the third Speaker Spotlight featuring the young Vice President at DraperU, Asra Nadeem. The upcoming DYS is on April 27-28, 2018. Register now here
 
Asra Nadeem


Asra Nadeem (AN) heads up the entrepreneurial programs and partnerships at Draper University, a pre-accelerator for global startups tackling the world’s most intractable problems. She is also a Venture Partner at DraperU Ventures, an early stage venture fund. Apart from designing and delivering programs, she works directly with governments, universities and international incubators to establish local entrepreneurial hubs, investment opportunities and corporate innovation initiatives.

Before working at Draper University, Asra worked on product and market development for startups in the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia. She was the first female product manager in Pakistan for Rozee.pk, where she not only worked with the CEO to secure venture funding from DFJ but grew the product and company to 150+ employees.  She is a space technology enthusiast who reads avidly about space and the future of humanity.

Tell me a little about what you are working on now?  How did you get started?

Bringing together the next generation of digital innovators in Pakistan: Meet Aurelie Salvaire

Priya Chopra's picture

The Digital Youth Summit (DYS) is a technology focused conference that takes place annually in Peshawar, Pakistan. In the lead up to the summit, we bring to you the first of our Speaker Spotlights featuring Aurélie Salvaire. The upcoming DYS is on April 27-28, 2018. Register now here.  

Aurelie Salvaire

Aurélie Salvaire (AS) is a French author and social entrepreneur passionate about gender and narratives. She has been working for the past 10 years in the social innovation field, collaborating with Oxfam, Ashoka, Unreasonable Institute and Impact Hub.  She is also a very active speaker and trainer, promoting greater diversity and shedding light on lingering stereotypes through her platform Shiftbalance.  She recently shot a 28 minutes documentary on masculinity in Pakistan called Maard Ban (Be a man).

Tell me a little about what you are working on now?  How did you get started?

AS: Majority of my activities is now on Shift balance – Our NGO was initially registered in Spain, but our activities are worldwide. We do lot of trainings and workshops mostly on leadership and empowerment for young girls around the world. 

We have been working mostly in Pakistan the last year with different schools, universities, and companies, teaching young girls about storytelling - how to tell their stories, how to be more confident in the public and how to believe in themselves.

I recently shot a documentary on masculinity called “Maard Ban” as a part of the “Be a Man” series.  Our book, “Balance the world”, published and designed in Pakistan, is an anthology of solutions to balance the world. The idea of transforming everybody into a balance maker is what drives me -  to be sure that everybody at their own level can contribute to gender equity.

What do you think is the future for youth in the tech industry?

AS: We know that 80% of the jobs will require technological skills.  We know that technology is shaping our future, so it’s extremely important that young people get involved in tech so that the technology in future is shaped for their needs.  For me, one of the great assets is that technology breaks hierarchies. 60% of the population is under 30 years old in Pakistan.  This makes them very accessible to technology and open to what is going around in the world, and they will shake the structures of power.

Bringing together the next generation of digital innovators in Pakistan: Meet Zaki Mahomed

Priya Chopra's picture

The Digital Youth Summit (DYS) is a technology focused conference that takes place annually in Peshawar, Pakistan. In the lead up to the summit, we bring to you the first of our Speaker Spotlights featuring Zaki Mahomed. The upcoming DYS is on April 27-28, 2018. Register now here.  



Zaki Mahomed (ZM) is founder & CEO at Pursuit, a new startup based in San Francisco. Pursuit helps people build the lives of their dreams through easy access to skilled immigration programs. Having lived in Karachi, Singapore, Toronto and San Francisco before turning 30 has given him a global perspective on the art and science of building great companies.

Tell me a little about what you are working on now?  How did you get started?

ZM: I recently founded and am the CEO of Pursuit. We help highly skilled immigrants access global job opportunities with companies that will sponsor their work visas. We want to live in a world where borders are not barriers to opportunities and employers can seamlessly hire perfect candidates from anywhere in the world.

I started Pursuit because I’ve lived and worked in 5 cities over my career. One of the most satisfying experiences of my career has been hiring immigrants who took a risk on my ideas and companies and moved their entire lives to join us. While fraught with risk, I’ve rarely regretted giving an opportunity to an immigrant and always gotten a committed and loyal worker in return. We want to make it easy for other businesses to be able to provide such opportunities to the type of talent they desperately need!

Specifically, through Pursuit, qualified skilled workers can apply for their immigrant visas and upon approval, get matched with vetted employers looking for their skills. Currently we work with Software Engineers and Developers and we primarily operate in Canada, which is our first market.

What do you think is the future for youth in the tech industry?

How one province in Pakistan is looking to digital jobs for its youth

Anna O'Donnell's picture
Hamza Khan, a Trainee Website Developer
Hamza Khan is a trainee website developer that has benefitted from KP'sYouth Employment Program

Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, or KP, has not always been recognized as a digital economy. Sharing a border with Afghanistan, the province experienced a period of instability and militancy over several decades that saw outmigration and the decline of private industries. Since then, the province has shown rapid economic growth, advancements in security, improvements in basic health and education, and a renewed sense of optimism.

Today, around half of the province’s population of 30.5 million is under the age of 30, necessitating rapid growth and job creation. In 2014, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa partnered with the World Bank to develop a strategy for job creation centered on leveraging the digital economy to address youth unemployment.
 

Digital KP
Digital KP”, that outlines a program on digital development that promotes youth inclusion and job creation.

Fast forward to 2018, and the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has launched a comprehensive digital strategy, called “Digital KP”, that outlines a program on digital development, with a core objective to promote youth inclusion in the digital economy. Within this broader digital strategy is a strong focus on promoting job creation for youth.

Addressing youth employment through the digital economy has three key building blocks:

Pakistan bridges the gender divide by embracing a digital economy

Priya Chopra's picture
Registration at the Digital Youth Summit. DYS is an age and gender-inclusive diversified digital platform.
Photo Credit: Digital Youth Summit


Standing in line to sign up for the Digital Youth Summit in Peshawar this May, I struck up a conversation with a young woman from Peshawar. I was pleasantly surprised by her level of interest and eagerness in participating at the tech conference.  She was keen to develop an app that would allow her to sell home-based food products at a national level.  She had already gathered a group of friends who would work with her on different aspects of task planning and implementation.  Her enthusiasm was palpable and infectious.  Born and raised in South Asia, I understand the constraints local women face in largely male dominated societies.  I was therefore heartened by the large turn-out of women queuing to enroll for the workshops.  

Six innovations from the Digital Youth Summit that inspired me

Joe Qian's picture
What do speakers say about the Digital Youth Summit?
What foreign speakers say about DYS17!

Foreign delegates to Digital Youth Summit 2017 reflect on their experiences, and the bright minds of youth in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Many thanks to all the foreign delegates for visiting Peshawar from May 5-7, 2017! #DYS17 #KPITB #KPGoesTech #KPWentTech Imran Khan (official)Shahram Khan Tarakai Official Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board - KPITB World Bank South Asia Jazz USAID Pakistan UNDP Pakistan Gloria Jean's Coffees Pakistan Anna O'Donnell Sam Bretzfield Iliana Montauk Justin Wong Alexander Ferguson Max Krueger Nicola Magri

Posted by Digital Youth Summit on Thursday, May 18, 2017

Entrepreneurs and technologists from Pakistan and around the world converged last week at the Digital Youth Summit (DYS) in Peshawar to share their knowledge, inspire local talent, and bring digital investments.

Over four days, 4,000 attendees, some as young as age 10, interacted with industry leaders, engaged in technology demonstrations, and benefitted from hands-on training. Everyone learnt a lot about digital entrepreneurship and was inspired by many cutting-edge innovations.

Here are six of them that struck a high note with me:
Most sessions at #DYS17 were livestreamed by Jazz xlr8 and OurKPK. Photo Credit: Joe Qian/World Bank
  1. Sessions on Facebook Live. Did you miss the summit, want to learn more about digital entrepreneurship, or simply want to relive highlights of DYS? Jazz xlr8 and OurKPK livestreamed many sessions at DYS. Inspired to start or grow your own business after watching the sessions? There are also resources to support you at the National Incubation Center and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Youth Employment Program!
     
    Travel Across Pakistan
     
  2. Travel Startups that made me want to travel across Pakistan. Let’s face it, I have a serious case of wanderlust and few things make me happier than going to new places, connecting with people, and gaining insights and perspectives I was unaware of before. For people outside of Pakistan may know of it as a country full of beauty and tourism potential. However, two of the winners of DYS’s Startup Cup in which budding companies presented their products and services to prospective investors changed my perspectives. Watch these two videos made by travel platform Find My Adventure and home-sharing company Qayyam and tell me if they also inspire you to travel across Pakistan!

Pakistan youth can be the future they want to see

Alexander Ferguson's picture



The first day of the Digital Youth Summit in Peshawar saw corridors and rooms crowded with entrepreneurs and digital gurus from across the world looking to map out Pakistan’s digital future.

These young and enthusiastic innovators are helping to redefine the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) as an emerging technology hub, and providing substantive skills and resources for Pakistan’s youth to take advantage of digital opportunities. At the summit – sponsored by the World Bank with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa IT Board and many other partners -- these students, entrepreneurs, enthusiastic young women and men are accessing trainings, announcements, and various forms of support to unlock new possibilities to realizing their potential.

The market for digital entrepreneurship is a multi-billion-dollar industry, growing at a rapid rate and is thirsty for young talent. These opportunities represent a shift in how we think of development—bringing the creativity and passion of tech-savvy young innovators to the forefront of social and economic change. The youth of Pakistani are well placed to be in the driver’s seat of this vibrant future.

Why I am excited about attending the Digital Youth Summit, and why you should attend too!

Nicola Magri's picture
Come to the Digital Youth Summit!

Why am I excited? Because it’s simply awesome! And it is a crucial get together for all those interested in tech, freelancing and entrepreneurship, featuring national and international experts (you read more about the speakers here).

Let me explain. This is the 3nd time that I am writing a blog post about the Digital Youth Summit (taking place this year on May 5-7, 2017 in Peshawar, Pakistan) and, once again, I face the big challenge of trying to make the reader feel at least some of the energy and incredible vibe that characterize this amazing event (you can find my 1st and 2nd posts here and here).

The Digital Youth Summit is a very unique get together. Over its two previous editions, it brought together national, international experts and hundreds of the most passionate and creative youth that Pakistan has to offer, demonstrating to the world that the city of Peshawar has now become the go-to spot for tech experts, freelancers and entrepreneurs from all over the country. The city’s tech ecosystem, once very limited, is now characterized by multiple initiatives and gathering spots for youth, including, for instance, The Nerd Camp, Peshawar 2.0 and Cluster, adding to the projects of Code for Pakistan and Empower Pakistan, both supported by the World Bank.
 
The 2017 edition, that will take place from May 5-7, is about to break new records.

Why is the Digital Youth Summit so important for Pakistan? Because Pakistan has almost 200 million people (the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone, whose capital is Peshawar, has 30 million- equivalent to the size of Greece, Belgium and Sweden, combined) and according to the Pakistani Bureau of Statistics (2013 data), almost 75% of the Pakistani population is below age 35; reaching 76.5% in the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Why an introvert like me looks forward to attending the digital youth summit?

Syed Irfan Ajmal's picture
dys
Register for the Digital Youth Summit Here, don't miss out!

Contrary to what many of my social media friends seem to think, I am a pretty private guy who rarely goes to attend events, and despite being pretty fine with speaking my heart out on the stage, I am a kind of a weird shy person otherwise. 
 
While I enjoy getting connected with talented and interesting people from all around the world via email and social media, it takes a lot for me to consider attending a real-life event. 
 
This is for several reasons but here are the biggest ones: 
 
1. In the case of online interactions, I can choose to respond to a message or a query when I want, and the other person can respond to it when it fits their schedule. In real-life one has to proactively make time for whatever event or social gathering one has to attend. 
 
2. Secondly, since I am an introvert, I need a massive downtime after I get back from an event.  
 
3. Many events taking place around me often aren't able to get me interested enough. 
 
However, I am anxiously looking forward to DYS 2017, and I can't wait to attend this event. Here are a few reasons why I am excited to come to DYS 2017:
 
1. This event is probably the best and most well-known event that has been happening in my city - Peshawar for a good few years. By attending DYS2017, I want to be there to be part of the effort to change the narrative from security barriers to finding solutions through innovation, knowledge-seeking, and technology adoption.
 
2. No matter how much I love to interact online, face-to-face meetings are fun and useful in several ways. As mentioned in a recent HBR article, face-to-face requests are 34 times more successful than an email, and so I look forward to building stronger relations. 
 
3 As Jim Rohn once famously said, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, and the management of DYS has spent a lot of time in creating it as a brand which attracts good, talented, ambitious people who have some interest and/or experience in all things digital. 

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