When we first launched Invest2Innovate a little over a year ago, our model focused on working one-to-one with seed-stage enterprises in Pakistan, providing tailored support – from financial modeling to marketing – to help grow these businesses and connect them to capital. Through this support, we identified common issues many enterprises faced while implementing their models in Pakistan. Moreover, while this approach allowed i2i to work closely with our entrepreneurs, the enterprises weren’t also getting to know each other. Given that i2i’s broader mission is to “promote a better enabling environment for entrepreneurship,” fostering an entrepreneurial community is key.
This past weekend, we launched the i2i Accelerator, a program in which selected i2i enterprises will meet for four two-day workshops (Our first cycle will run from November 2012 to January 2013) on topics ranging from business model development, customer acquisition and marketing to investment strategy, human capital retention and governance structures. They will not only engage with the i2i team and incredible mentors, they will also engage with each other. The accelerator is being hosted at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB), a relationship we’re excited to deepen through the course of the program, and we are piloting the program with five awesome i2i enterprises: BLISS (founder, Saba Gul), EcoEnergy Finance (operations director, Jeremy Higgs), Renewable Energy Solutions (founder, Sajjad Haider), Milk’Op (founder, Asim Hussnain), and the Organic Pine Nut Enterprise (founder, Zahoor Khan).
The program will culminate at the end of January with a pitch event that will connect our entrepreneurs to potential funders and investors (ideal members of i2i Angels). i2i will also host a larger event for the public to showcase these entrepreneurs, their stories, and their models.
The i2i Accelerator has been a labor of love for our whole team, and we are so excited to share updates as the program progresses. If successful, we hope to run the Accelerator annually with new cohorts of entrepreneurs. Major props to our Pakistan team Salman Naveed Khan (our Pakistan Director) & Uzair Khan (our Innovation Manager) for all their hard work this past weekend, and many thanks to all our partners (especially LUMS, Harvard’s Pakistan Innovation Network, IBA, P@SHA Fund for Social Innovation, etc.), our amazing mentors & trainers, and our awesome enterprises. It’s going to a wild and crazy ride in the world of entrepreneurship development – stay tuned!
Kalsoom Lakhani is the Founder/CEO of Invest2Innovate, based in Washington, D.C. She loves traveling, pretending to be a foodie, Jeopardy, and inane discussions about morality in mainstream television shows. If you watch mainstream television shows, you know this amounts to very little discussion.