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Remarks by U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Andrew Schofer at “USPWC-Paklaunch Women’s Economic Accelerator” Event
September 6, 2023


U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Andrew Schofer at the “USPWC-Paklaunch Women’s Economic Accelerator” Startup Competition Winners Event

Venue: NSTP, NUST, Islamabad

Good afternoon, distinguished guests, colleagues, and friends.  As-Salaam-o-Alaikum!  To the vibrant start-up community of women entrepreneurs we celebrate today — you are Pakistan’s future.  We are incredibly proud of you.

It is my honor to join you for the grand finale of the “USPWC-Paklaunch Women’s Economic Accelerator” pilot startup competition.  One of the United States’ top priorities is promoting inclusive economic growth.  The U.S. Mission to Pakistan is proud to sponsor the USPWC-Paklaunch program, which aims to increase the participation of diverse leaders – notably, women — in Pakistan’s entrepreneurial sector.

Pakistan has immense potential.  You have a young, educated population.  Your geography connects you with some of the most dynamic and rapidly growing markets in the world.  While Pakistan has historically relied on industries like textiles and agriculture to drive its economy, it needs innovation and technology to become more globally competitive.

Entrepreneurship will drive Pakistan’s economic growth.  You are central to creating jobs, and to advancing education for all – regardless of gender, class, religion, or ethnicity.  With the right support and resources, Pakistani entrepreneurs will bring new ideas and products to market, disrupt old systems, and create new opportunities.

As our finalists know, entrepreneurship is never easy.  It takes hard work, dedication, and smart risk-taking.  It means stepping out of your comfort zone, facing the possibility of failure, and pushing through obstacles that may seem insurmountable.  But those who persevere can reap tremendous rewards.

We are excited to see Pakistan embracing its entrepreneurs.  And this support needs to be paired with policies that provide access to capital, mentorship, training, and networking opportunities—specifically, policies aimed at removing bureaucratic hurdles that stifle innovation and make it harder for start-ups to get off the ground.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know the 15 accelerator finalists and hearing your ideas for bringing innovation to Pakistan.  For example:

  • The Digital Academy for Pilots is not only a first for Pakistan, but in the world!  With personalized schedules, languages, budgets, and instructors, this has the potential to revolutionize your aviation education.

  • Agventure is aiming to bring the highest quality seeds and advice to the agriculture sector, a critical component of Pakistan’s economy.

  • And the Climate Crunch Platform that harnesses the collective strength of individuals and businesses to concentrate actions and collaborations to address climate change impacts.

Today’s finalists have brought incredible innovation, courage, and creativity to this competition, with pitches that respond to real-life issues facing Pakistanis.  Getting to this point has taken a lot of hard work and determination.  It’s been an extremely competitive process.  We hope that you are as proud of yourselves as we are of each and every one of you.

In just a few moments, we will announce the top three founders who will be showcased through the U.S. State Department and Paklaunch platforms and receive one-on-one mentoring from Paklaunch and AWS, preparing them for potential investors and clients.  All 15 finalists will also receive $5,000 credit for Amazon Web Services.

And for all the teams, we hope that the investment you have made in this program, the guidance and mentorship you received, and the skills you’ve developed will continue to challenge and inspire you to develop new ideas and business plans going forward.

I want to acknowledge the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council and its partner, Paklaunch, for their great work organizing the Women’s Economic Accelerator and the finale pitch competition. And thank [s to] our host, the National Science and Technology Park.

Congratulations again to the winners, and all of the finalists on your impressive achievement.  We wish you the very best success, now and in the future.