January 12, 2016
Good afternoon everyone, and greetings to you, MNA Shaista Malik and Senator Robina Rauf. Thank you, Mavra, for the introduction.
It is a pleasure to be with you today to celebrate this occasion. It is hard to imagine that only a year ago, many of you were here to inaugurate the very first WECREATE Center. You are a remarkable group, in the last year having turned a dream into a reality – a Center that is a hub of creativity, innovation, collaboration, and accomplishment.
Mavra, thank you for your tireless work promoting the Center. Thanks go to our other partners, including TiE Islamabad, StartUp Cup, the Hashoo Foundation, the US-Pakistan Women’s Council, and of course, representatives of the Government of Pakistan. But most of all, I want to pay tribute to the women of WECREATE themselves. You have put the WECREATE Center on the map, made it a success, and set the bar high for future Centers worldwide.
I have only been in Pakistan for less than two months, but I have been struck by the talent, enthusiasm, and potential of this country’s youth, and particularly its young entrepreneurs. There is no question about why Pakistan was a great choice for the inaugural WECREATE Center: the exceptional capacity and creativity of the human capital that exists here.
Since this Center’s opening in Islamabad, additional WECREATE Centers have opened in Cambodia, Kenya, and Zambia, and will soon open in Vietnam and elsewhere. The women at these WECREATE Centers no doubt look to the example Pakistan has set and are undoubtedly inspired by it.
In December, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and I sat down with a group of Pakistani entrepreneurs, including WECREATE’s own Hira Batool Rizvi, the creator of She’Kab. Both of us were fascinated by her idea to offer a service providing women safe and secure transportation to work, as well as her ability to bring this important concept to fruition. Hira is just one example of the talent that is fostered here at the WECREATE Center.
It has been noted many times that a country cannot achieve its full economic potential without the participation of its entire workforce. Women, just like men, must have the tools and resources they need to contribute to the economy. No country can get ahead if it leaves half the population behind.
By providing a safe and supportive environment to mentor and train women, the WECREATE Center is helping Pakistan to develop its human capital and enhance economic growth.
Entrepreneurship is a priority for both Pakistan and America. It not only drives economic growth and creates jobs, it offers new ways of delivering services and solving problems. It is essential to a dynamic economy.
It is inspiring to see that the WECREATE Center has gone beyond its initial mission to create such an environment–it has become a place where entrepreneurs, women and men, come together to share ideas and solve problems. By providing a home for various entrepreneurship events, including invest2innovate’s Challenge Cup and the Founder Institute’s training sessions, WECREATE is becoming a key element to Pakistan’s entrepreneurial drive.
You are all a part of something remarkable here, and can be justifiably proud. What the Center has accomplished in just one year, by attaining financial independence and self-sufficiency, is extraordinary. This is only the beginning, and it will be wonderful to gather in a year’s time to see what the women of WECREATE accomplished. Thank you.