HBL and Visa announce Winners of First Edition of She’s Next Program in Pakistan | InfoZonePK
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Visa (NYSE: V), a world leader in digital payments, together with HBL, Pakistan’s leading Bank today, announced five winners of Pakistan’s inaugural edition of the She’s Next program,  Visa’s global platform dedicated to supporting women in their efforts to fund, run and grow their small businesses.

Winners included Ziana Sakhia, CEO & Cofounder of Bechlo, Sadaf Rehman, Cofounder of CodeSchool, Rida Zainab, Cofounder of Porter Pakistan, and Ayesha Awan, Cofounder of SocialBlu. The program also included a People’s Favorite award, where members of the public voted online for their favorite finalist, Hira Javaid, CEO of Foster Learning.

Winners were chosen from a pool of almost 2,500 applicants from a range of sectors including textiles, education, food and beverage, professional services, beauty and wellness within Pakistan. The five winning woman-owned small businesses received a US$10,000 grant each, along with a tailored training program by Katalyst Labs, and access to the She’s Next Club where they will have access to multiple resources including a workshop library and a community of entrepreneurs for mentorship.

A jury evaluated entries based on the progression of the applicant’s entrepreneurial journey, the robustness of their business metrics, their digital presence; and demonstrated ability to confidently solve problems. The members of the jury included: Carl Manlan, Visa’s Vice President for Social Impact in Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA), Maya Inayat Ismail, Chief of Staff to the Chairman and Chairperson, Sustainability Forum – HBL, Aatif Awan, Founder and Managing Partner of Indus Valley Capital and Sheema Sultan, CEO of Core Gym.

Leila Serhan, Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for North Africa, Levant and Pakistan (NALP), Visa, said: “We are thrilled to announce the winners of our inaugural edition of She’s Next in Pakistan and recognize the ambition and confidence of these women entrepreneurs. We had a tough job selecting our finalists from almost 2,500 exemplary Pakistani women, and our judges had an even harder job picking our winners tonight. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and our hope is that we continue working with our partners to  empower this inspiring community of women entrepreneurs.”

Aamir Kureshi, Head Consumer, Agriculture & SME Banking – HBL, said: “HBL is proud to be the exclusive partner of Visa for the She’s Next global program in Pakistan. The program aims to support and empower women entrepreneurs on their path to financial success. This initiative further supports HBL’s commitment to uplift women entrepreneurs in the country. While we have five winners from the 10 shortlisted, the Bank acknowledges and celebrates the exceptional spirit of all 2,500 applicants, each a winner in their own right. HBL is committed to shaping the financial industry of the country.  In this regard, SME’s and in particular women businesses will remain a key focus area for us.”

Since 2020, Visa has invested around US$ 3.8 million in over 380 grants and coaching for women SMB owners through the She’s Next grant program globally including in US, Canada, India, Ireland, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Morocco.