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HBL and Visa Announce Winners of She’s Next Program in Pakistan

In a groundbreaking collaboration, Visa, a global leader in digital payments, joined forces with HBL, Pakistan’s leading bank, to unveil the winners of Pakistan’s inaugural She’s Next program. This initiative is part of Visa’s global platform dedicated to supporting women in their endeavors to fund, run, and grow their small businesses.

The five outstanding winners, Ziana Sakhia of Bechlo, Sadaf Rehman of CodeSchool, Rida Zainab of Porter Pakistan, Ayesha Awan of SocialBlu, and the People’s Favorite, Hira Javaid of Foster Learning, were selected from a pool of nearly 2,500 applicants spanning diverse sectors such as textiles, education, food and beverage, professional services, and beauty and wellness within Pakistan.

Each winning woman-owned small business was awarded a US$10,000 grant, along with access to a tailored training program by Katalyst Labs and entry into the She’s Next Club. This exclusive club provides entrepreneurs with valuable resources, including a workshop library and a supportive community for mentorship.

A distinguished jury, comprising Carl Manlan (Visa’s VP for Social Impact), 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), evaluated entries based on entrepreneurial journey progression, business metrics robustness, digital presence, and demonstrated problem-solving abilities.

Leila Serhan, Visa’s Senior VP and Group Country Manager for North Africa, Levant, and Pakistan, expressed excitement about recognizing the ambition and confidence of these women entrepreneurs. She emphasized that this is just the beginning, with hopes to continue empowering this inspiring community.

Aamir Kureshi, Head Consumer, Agriculture & SME Banking at HBL, expressed pride in HBL’s exclusive partnership with Visa for the She’s Next global program in Pakistan. This initiative aligns with HBL’s commitment to uplift women entrepreneurs in the country, reflecting a key focus on SMEs and women-led businesses.

Since 2020, Visa has globally invested around US$3.8 million in over 380 grants and coaching for women SMB owners through the She’s Next grant program. The impact of this collaboration echoes beyond borders, reaching countries such as the US, Canada, India, Ireland, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Morocco, contributing to the global movement of empowering women in business.

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