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StartUp Academy Graduate | How One Women Leads Pakistan’s Future Game Developers

Originally published 01.22.2016 by ShareAmerica

Do you remember the first time you played Super Mario Bros.? Sadia Bashir does. It’s what sparked her love of video games and eventually led her to open Pakistan’s first video game design institute.

As a young child, Bashir didn’t have a TV or any other entertainment. It wasn’t until she visited a family friend later in her youth that she got to see a computer — and play a video game — for the first time. “After that, it became my routine and my passion,” she says of gaming.

Sadia Bashir, founder of PixelArt Games Academy (Courtesy photo)

Sadia Bashir, founder of PixelArt Games Academy (Courtesy photo)

Computer programming was the closest to a gaming degree Bashir could get. “There is a huge gap in our education,” she explains. “Even though it’s the second-largest industry in the world, we don’t have any institute that would provide proper education and training for beginners … because of the lack of resources in Pakistan.”

 Frustrated by the lagging development of the Pakistani gaming industry, Bashir had a solution: open her own institute. And so she did in fall 2015. PixelArt Games Academy (PGA) aims to give young game makers in the country the chance to learn from experienced professionals.

In addition to offering hands-on workshops, PGA hosts a research and development center. It also connects its students with gaming companies looking to hire.

“It’s still a very new concept, and our industry is not that mature yet, but I am sure if we provide a proper foundation to our new generation [of game makers], we can increase our progress in no time,” Bashir says. She is confident that through the academy, students “will be able to get jobs or create their own games or studios.”

Advancing to the next level

Starting a business can be stressful, as Bashir discovered. She says she used to be worried about finances all the time. But as part of a training program at the WECREATE | PAKISTAN Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, she learned that you don’t need funding to start a business, just a good business model.

“I started my business with zero [financial] investment,” she explains. “I invested my own skills and help from friends and family.” In fact, Bashir advises, startups shouldn’t focus on funding “until they are mature enough to understand their business and effectively able to spend the funding money.”

Bashir also credits her mentors, whom she met at the WECREATE | PAKISTAN Center, for providing valuable guidance. “Whenever I felt like I was stuck in a situation … I shared my thoughts and ideas with them and took their advice. I also took their criticism as well, and it helped me to correct my mistakes and be prepared.”

As a result of that preparation, Bashir has been able to get PGA off the ground. She already has hired eight people as part of the managerial team and another six as trainers.

But that’s not her biggest achievement: “I am the first woman in my family to [earn a degree], and the idea of starting my own business wasn’t that acceptable for them. … But on the graduation day of WECREATE, I brought my parents, and they were very proud of me and very supportive for my venture.”

Read the full article here: ShareAmerica

Request for Applications: WECREATE Challenge in Papua New Guinea.

WECREATE | PAKISTAN's StartUp Academy Graduation Celebration of Flight I.

StartUp Cup in partnership with the U.S. State Department, will implement the WECREATE Challenge | PNG in Port Moresby and Goroka, Papua New Guinea in 2016-2017. The Challenge aims to develop women’s entrepreneurship through a nation-wide Acceleration program that utilizes a business model competition and mentor training program. Each step of the competitive process is tailored to the specific needs of women entrepreneurs increasing their opportunities to successfully build and scale sustainable women-owned businesses.

The WECREATE Challenge | PNG is designed with a powerful business model and rapid revenue generation mentoring approach at its heart. This approach supports entrepreneurs to accelerate designing and testing their business models with customers. The resulting interactions improve the likelihood of generating revenue and building a viable business in weeks, not months. WECREATE Challenge benefits the entire ecosystem by increasing the quality and quantity of local mentors resulting in increasing the quality entrepreneurs and startups as a direct result of the WECREATE Challenge business model competition.

The program will be implemented in two phases over the two years. The first phase will focus on training at least 50 local mentors and judges, who will then mentor and evaluate entrepreneurs on their progress advancing their business into the marketplace during the Extreme Build-A-Business workshops, mentorship program and business model competition. After the six to seven month competitive process the WECREATE Challenge concludes with a nation-wide Women Entrepreneurship Festival, where the most promising three startups receive awards and recognition from experts, peers and the community.

Download the full RFA here: RFA WECREATE Challenge- Papua New Guinea Deadline for submissions is December 18, 2015.

KawaMoka Wins Ghana Startup Cup 2015

 

StartUp_Cup

For Immediate Release: Ghana, November 10, 2015

StartUp Cup hit Ghana’s capital for the 3rd time this past weekend for its conclusion, as the three winners of this year’s competition were revealed following a morning of rapid pitches from 12 finalists.

After whittling down hundreds of entrants, via an online registration, twelve entrepreneurs where invited to compete. Emi-Beth Quatson of KawaMoka, a local coffee company, received the backing of the judges in the competiion and finished victorious. Placing second and third were eCampus App, an innovative e-learning platform and Coliba, a waste management startup.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Chief Economic Officer of the U.S. Embassy, Jimmy Mauldin, admonished the youth to take up challenges and provide sustainable and identifiable solutions to the problems around us through their businesses, adding that: “You are the future of Ghana” He further reiterated the U.S Government’s support for StartUp Cup Ghana, through the Global Entrepreneurship Program, in spurring growth in entrepreneurship in Ghana, as well as other exchange programmes such as the Young African Leaders’ Initiative (YALI).

“Not all business plan competitions are meant for your business”, commented Technoserve Ghana Deputy Country Director, Samuel Baba Adongo who was also a keynote speaker at the awards ceremony. He continued by admonishing startups to focus on growth as a first step in developing their business while desisting from the habit of moving from one competition to the other.

The finals, which took place during the National Startup Festival at the British Council, saw twelve businesses pitch their ideas to an expert panel of entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts.On hosting duties was Kweku Temeng of TV3, while joining Nancy Glaser of Stanford SEED on the judging panel were Klenam Fiadzo (Yougora Ltd, Cofounder), and Kwaku David (KD Group Global).

Ethel Cofie (Women in Tech, Founder), Yaganoma Baatuolkuu (Wanjo Foods, CEO), Wayne Miranda (Growth Mosaic, CEO), Joyce Okyerewaa Danso (UN Youth Ambassador, Ghana), Mac-Jordan Degadjor (Africa New Media, Cofounder) also formed part of panelists for a Social Good Meetup on Entrepreneurship and the Global Goals which took place earlier at the same venue to discuss and address the funding and investment gap for startups in Ghana. Alumi of the StartUp Cup program, Lily Kudzro(Devio Arts, CEO) Francis Obirikorang(Swappaholics, Cofounder) and Nana Opoku Agyeman-Prempeh(Asoriba, Cofounder), also took chances to lead a breakout session on growing and expanding your business.

“We took a long time to come to a decision after witnessing the pitches,” confessed the Ghana StartUp Cup Ghana Director, Emmanuel Nyame. “There was a lot of delibrations as all twelve of these businesses are so strong. In the end it came down to deciding whether we wanted to give the backing to the best ideas or the businesses that we thought could really succeed.”

So what do all of the finalists walk away with?

Finalists with Agricultural background received a prize package by kind sponsorship of TechnoServe Ghana, while ultimate winner, KawaMoka would continue the journey to compete with other African countries for the next phase of the competition.

As well as this, all of finalists will get astute mentorship prize packages for all twelve finalists starting December this year sponsored by MEL Consulting.

The National StartUp Festival was put together by Stillwater Equity Partners and StartUp Cup Ghana. To find out more about this year’s competition, head across to the Ghana StartUp Cup website www.ghana.startupcup.com

WECREATE Center’s StartUp Academy Program Bolsters Female Entrepreneurship In Pakistan

WECREATE | PAKISTAN's StartUp Academy Graduation Celebration of Flight I.

WECREATE | PAKISTAN’s StartUp Academy Graduation Celebration of Flight I.

The Women’s Entrepreneurial Center of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) Center held its ‘Graduation Celebration of StartUp Academy Flight I’ in Islamabad September 21 to mark the completion of a 15-week program that takes aspiring female entrepreneurs from idea to business implementation.

The graduates pitched their new businesses to community leaders, potential investors, and the press during the event.

Graduates of the program lauded the efforts of the WECREATE | PAKISTAN Center and said this program helped them develop the necessary skills to start and grow their own businesses.  U.S. Embassy Economic Counselor Robert Garverick commented he was very impressed by the graduates’ business plans and by the efforts of the WECREATE | PAKISTAN Center to promote female entrepreneurship in Pakistan.  “I look forward to seeing these women’s businesses grow and prosper. I expect these StartUp Academy graduates soon will be mentoring the next generation of female entrepreneurs in Pakistan.” Read full article here.

 

Armenia StartUp Cup’s Impact on Armenia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Continues to Grow

Last week, Armenia StartUp Cup held their third annual Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend, organized by Armenia StartUp Cup and International Academy of Business (IAB) with support from AYB School, Congress Hotel and leadership from StartUp Cup Global.

This year’s ArmeniaScreen Shot 2015-09-24 at 4.44.42 PM StartUp Cup is a prime example of high impact, sustainable entrepreneurial development, with the entire program being produced exclusively by local Armenian organizations. In addition, all formal presentations and mentoring are being conducted by local entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial champions trained by StartUp Cup leadership.

From the over 67 business model submissions, 50 teams were invited to the Armenia StartUp Cup Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend where the Top 25 startup teams were chosen to advance in the acceleration program by the Armenia StartUp Cup Challenge Judges.

 

WECREATE | CAMBODIA Women’s Entrepreneurship Center Launches!

WECREATE CAMBODIA Ribbon Cutting II

His Excellency Dr. Sok Siphan and U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, Cambodia Chargé d’ affaires Julie Chung cut the ribbon officially opening the WECREATE | CAMBODIA Women’s Entrepreneurship Center.

Our network of WECREATE Women’s Entrepreneurship Centers continues to expand with the launch of the WECREATE | CAMBODIA Center in Phnom Penh on September 18, 2015.

Women run most of the businesses in Cambodia, but they often lack the resources or know-how to sustain or expand them, a reality that prompted the launch on Friday of WECREATE | CAMBODIA, a project that aims to help businesswomen excel.

The organization will support female entrepreneurs by providing them with mentoring, coaching, networking and business strategies in order to establish or advance their business plans, said Chantha Nguon, WECREATE’s Event and Program Director. 

“We focus on women that have a dream, but it’s very difficult for her [to pursue], so we can give her an idea of how to start,” she said.

According to a March report by the Asian Development Bank, women account for about 65 percent of business owners in the country. A lack of business training, however, contributes to their businesses often falling behind those of men, the report says. Read the full article here.

Visually Thinking Your Way to a Better StartUp

ThinkDifferent2Your ability to draw images, even stick figures, representing your thoughts and visions has a powerful ability to accelerate their manifestation. Visual thinking helps you focus and think more clearly, boost your creative I.Q. and think bigger thoughts.

Some of the most famous thinkers in history, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and John F. Kennedy, have been visual thinkers.  Leonardo da Vinci, considered by many to be the greatest thinker of all time, started every meaningful brainstorm with a visual.

You can create what you want in your life. Visual thinking will help you get to where you want to go even faster.

Drawing Out Your Best

When visual thinking, work to not think too much about what you are drawing, go with the flow in a kind of stream of consciousness. Focus your thinking, energy and drawing on what you want to create, a problem to be solve, or new idea in development.

Some things to think about as you advance your visual thinking journey:

  • What medium will you use to visualize your thoughts?
    • Sketchbook
    • iPad
    • Copy paper
    • Table cloth
    • Butcher paper
  • Draw images by using single lines, connecting each to create images
  • Let your hand and fingers take the lead as you visualize
  • Consider where you are going to place images on the page
  • Work toward creating a visual journal of your startup ideations
  • Becoming a Visual Thinker only takes a little practice, persistence and commitment

Working With Your Brains Natural Ability to Organize Information

Focus on letting go of the childhood programming that has stifled your creative talents and instead embrace your ability to draw, no matter how you think it looks. Visual thinking will enable you to take hold of a key that has the potential to unlock and open the door to achieve a whole new level of performance and as an outcome design a better startup.

When you think it, visualize it, and believe it, anything becomes possible.

President Obama Announces Africa Women Entrepreneurship Centers During GES

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Presidential Entrepreneurship Summit at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center in Washington D.C., April 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by the State Department web site for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit as requested. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Obama and President Kenyatta opened the 6th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), co-hosted by the United States and the Government of Kenya, and announced new commitments to promote entrepreneurship as a driver for economic growth, social inclusion, and secure communities.  Following his historic 2009 Cairo speech, President Obama elevated innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. engagement agenda and hosted the first GES at the White House in 2010.  Over the past six years, the United States has been a leader in catalyzing entrepreneurship globally by developing innovative ecosystems; advocating for stronger business climates through rule of law and transparent business conduct; promoting entrepreneurship for women, youth, and marginalized communities; and mobilizing the private sector to expand impact. Read the full report here.

WECREATE | ZAMBIA Women’s Entrepreneurship Center Launches!

IMG_6296In partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and the Women’s Entrepreneurial Centers of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) project, these women’s entrepreneurship centers will advance gender equality and address entrepreneurship skill barriers faced by women and girls. This investment in the centers marks the first ever private-public partnership between the U.S. State Department, Caterpillar and StartUp Cup, an organization that provides global end-to-end solutions for accelerating entrepreneurial ventures, creating jobs and building local and regional entrepreneurship ecosystems. StartUp Cup will be the implementing partner managing the centers. Read the entire Press Release.

Brenda Rios Joins StartUp Cup Team as New Operations Director

Brenda_RiosWe are delighted that our long-time friend and collaborator, Brenda Rios, has joined the StartUp Cup team as our new Director of Operations and enthusiastically look forward to working with her in this new role.  Please join us in congratulating Brenda and for her ongoing commitment to expanding entrepreneurship and women empowerment.