At last year's GIST Tech-I Pitch Competition, we had a chance to talk with Dr. Iffat Zafar of Sehat Kahani about her startup, being a GIST Entrepreneur, paying-it-forward by being a GIST Mentor to new generations, and the role GIST plays in startup ecosystems.
Part 1: About Sehat Kahani
So the name of the company is Sehat Kahani which essentially means story of health in Urdu and the reason we came up with this name is that we essentially want to rewrite how the story of healthcare is being written in Pakistan. Pakistan is a huge country with a large population of at least 200 million people but more than 51% of the population lives or falls around the poverty line with little or no access to quality health care. A large number of women graduated as doctors but because of social and cultural norms they don't come back to the workforce and even the ones who are working whether they're female doctors or male doctors they like to work in bigger cities you know Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad or other bigger cities. No one really wants to go into the rural areas the slum communities and that's where the main health care gap lies. So at Sehat Kahani what we do is that we go into these areas we identify our to room space so we don't build infrastructure but we have great existing present infrastructure we recruit a nurse there or a community health worker who is certified to do medical practice. Then she is connected to two online doctors and this is how a Sehat Kahani telemedicine clinic is formed.
Part 2: Being a GIST Entrepreneur
I first joined GIST in 2016. I think that for me that was my very first international exposure to pitch about my company somewhere and you know there are different kinds of people and at that time I kind of fell within those kind of people who weren't very camera confident who weren't very confident speaking on stage or I guess I was a bit scared and I think it just gave me the break to really unlock how I could speak about my startup and how I could really explain the work that we do in the best manner possible. With all the mentors and the trainers who came to that conference I think they really took out the speaker from within me and they really helped me to you know narrate my story in the best manner possible. I think GIST really helped me initiate my journey and for the entire I would say startup ecosystem within Pakistan. So GIST has been a big support. There are a lot of companies who have come to GIST from Pakistan. Some of them have funds some of them have been finalists but but I think the exposure that just gives and you know also the credibility for an intrapreneur like myself to be associated with just and you know something which is as prestigious as the US State Department. I think that really adds a lot of value to enter entreperneur's journey
Part 3: Being a GIST Mentor
I think it's an amazing experience and I feel globally the world has changed a lot and although I came to gesture in 2016 but you know it seems just like yesterday but when I look at it it is like long time back and when I was looking at the startups and the different intrapreneurs here they're they're you know going through the same journey that we went through they're nervous the exciter they're some of them are very sure of what they want to do some of them are still you know trying to figure out and I think seeing the new generation of intrapreneurs is exciting in itself the world is really shifting towards entrepreneurship the concept of doing a nine-to-five job is really changing and I think I really like the change and I think the Millennials are picking up this change in the best manner possible.
Part 4: GIST and Startup Ecosytems
GIST is one of the very few programs which operates in a large number of countries so they're not limited to open up countries just has a broad spectrum and they are not limited to one or two causes and I think this is where the world is moving a Greek ulcer health pollution these are the problems that the world in its entirety nice to solve and just is looking at them just connects entrepreneurs who are very early in their journey to not only mentors who help them be better orators better speakers who helps them pitch define their pitch but also gives them some amount of funding which gives an entrepreneur in the very beginning of the journey the conference that okay you know their idea has some potential and they can do good that engagement of being the part of such an amazing network is very essential so just has to stay there for the longer time.