In this latest series of articles, we are publishing interviews of women who are working as a professional or a student in the technology sector. The objective is to highlight their work and contribution to the industry as well as to the community.
In these interviews, you will find women working in technology to solve real-world problems, to break stereotypes and to create the next big impact on the tech industry. This series of interviews shows that even with the lowest rate of women participation in the labor market in Pakistan, there are still lots of smart women who are creating and using technology to work wonders.
Today, we are featuring Gia Farooqi. Read on to know more about her work and get inspired.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your education, and your work.
Gia is the CEO & Co-founder of the 2017 Hult Prize-winning start-up, Roshni Rides. Roshni Rides is a carpooling platform that connects commuters and drivers to scheduled routes on a monthly subscription-based out of Karachi, Pakistan. It is the ideal solution for individuals, children, and enterprises looking for a safe, affordable, and reliable daily commute. Roshni Rides specifically targets women and children who are affected by the mobility problem the most. Gia grew up in New Jersey, USA, and moved to Karachi, Pakistan, in 2018 to launch her start-up.
She is a Rutgers Business School graduate, where she studied Supply Chain Management, Political Science, and Women’s and Gender Studies. She and her team have won the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in New Jersey and Clement A. Price Human Dignity Award. In 2019, Gia and her co-founders we selected as honorees for the Forbes 30 under 30 list Asia in the Enterprise Technology category.
Roshni Rides has been featured on NPR, The Huffington Post, CNN, and has been published in university case studies. Gia is a global speaker where she has spoken about entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, and women’s issues in emerging markets on platforms like Tedx. She is also a caffeine addict.
What are your plans/aspirations? What impact will it have on the community/society/your team/your project?
We want to raise a pre-series A round of funding for Roshni Rides to develop our product and scale across Pakistan further. When people think “pick and drop” or “carpool,” we want them to feel of Roshni Rides. I hope that with Roshni Rides, we can close the mobility gap women face in Pakistan (Women are 4x less mobile than me, according to LSE).
But, no matter what happens with Roshni Rides (start-up life is super volatile), I want to make sure I create an impact in Pakistan in some way, whether that be through this current start-up or learning from my successes and failures and beginning again.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are proud of?
I think the most obvious is that my co-founders and I were able to win the $1 mm in funding at the age of 22. I’d never worked a full-time job before and had to finish my last semester, give my final exams, move to a new country I’d never lived in before, and use $1 mm to build something sustainable. I’m proud of surviving everything that came our way after, and despite several setbacks that we were able to create something that customers are using and love across Karachi, employ over 200 people, and highlight the importance of women-focused products.
What has been your best education/career decision, and why?
When I started school, I wanted to be a doctor. But, as I stayed up late studying for biology exams, I realized that I didn’t love what I did. I was studying to get the grade- and that didn’t seem good enough to me. So I started taking business classes and realized that with business, there is a freedom in opportunity and what you get to do. You can chase what you love and monetize it. The day I decided to pursue the freedom to do what I adored and what I wanted to continue learning, I was set for life.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
This is tough because I think I’ve learned so many hard lessons in the past two years that are so important. So I’ll list my top 3:
- Not all advice is good advice.
- Don’t try to boil the ocean. Going for low hanging fruit is excellent; it’s the execution that’s key.
- TRUST YOURSELF! Your instincts are almost always right. My biggest mistakes have stemmed from doubting myself.
Which woman inspires you and why?
My mother inspires me. Her commitment to do everything with love and give 100%. No matter what is what keeps me going on tough days. Professionally, I think that what Ankita Bose (CEO and Co-founder of Zilingo) has been able to build in less than five years is impressive. As a South Asian, young, female CEO, she’s a role model for me. I see what she has been able to build in Asia’s emerging markets and know that it’s possible with the right attitude and grit.
Do you think Pakistan has changed as a society, in terms of accepting career-oriented women? What needs to change to help more women come forward?
It’s nice to see forums like WomenInTech on a grassroots level organizing channels for women to speak openly and connect. I think there have also been several formal programs that I’ve seen pop up over the last year. But, I strongly feel that institutions need to do more than throw money and award grants to female founders- there needs to be an ecosystem of support where these institutions can open doors for women. Money is no use if you don’t know what to do with it or how to spend it appropriately for your business. Our career-oriented women need sober coaching and access to networks. As someone who never grew up here and as a woman, one of my biggest challenges was to get into individual rooms to help Roshni Rides grow. Had I had the proper network support, we would have been able to achieve some of our goals faster. It’s easy to say you support women- but what resources are you leveraging actually to make it happen?
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
Support other women! Another woman’s success is your success. I love seeing all the great work women are doing on different channels. Buy each other’s products, give each other feedback, look out for one another.
You can follow Gia Farooqi using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.