Hira Rizvi; an engineer by profession, and the co-founder of SheKab who believes that if ideas get the right direction and entrepreneurial skills are put to efficient use, one can achieve it all.
Tell us about yourself? How did you come up with the idea of SheKab?
I am an engineer by profession and started working in Islamabad, Pakistan around 5 years ago. when I started with the job, I was one of the two female engineers in a software house which was employing 150 engineers.
All I could see around me was just gender disparity, which was extremely disturbing. Initially, the thought that pinched me was that not a lot of women were opting for careers in engineering. But in a short span of time, I came to realize that there were many other underlying problems behind the curtain of disparity at workplaces which were in need to be solved. One of which, and the most ignored was the issue of daily mobility.
Be it getting to work, or to school was a real challenge for women. When I looked closely, it was alarming than I had thought of.
I came to know that women were spending more than 40% of their monthly salaries just to travel to work, compared to men who spent 7% or less.
Apart from that more than 50% of women who happened to use public transport, had reported harassment at some point. Driving too was a skill reserved for the privileged only.
In order to make their lives easier, I took the initiative of SheKab in 2015, a purpose-driven startup which aims to empower women by providing them safe, affordable and efficient transport alternatives.
What was your motivation behind this venture?
What kept me stimulated to work on this was that I wanted women to muster up the courage to take their own decisions, be independent enough to make use of their full potential. And I believe that to achieve this, it is important for women to be able to move around conveniently. Regardless of all, I was passionate about solving the everyday mobility problems faced by women.
Any challenges that you faced that proved to be an obstacle?
The challenges that I faced during the SheKab journey kept on changing and turned out to be the biggest learning experiences for me.
The challenges dealt with breaking the stereotypes of our society by doing what I wanted. Nonetheless, I faced obstacles that limited the growth of entrepreneurs to work in Pakistan. So far, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve been trying to put up with is dealing with the regulatory bodies of Pakistan and bringing in foreign investment.
Is it hard being a woman with an idea to accomplish?
It is definitely difficult to achieve big ideas when you’re a woman, belonging to a conservative society. I feel a lot of women who are aspiring to have a career end up compromising a lot, especially for their dreams.
They often have to work twice as hard as men to prove themselves in the male dominating world. And the pressure to balance work and family life brings a whole new set of challenges that are a huge deterrence for women who want to achieve their goals.
How do you manage work-life balance?
I am still on the verge of learning the tips and tricks to attain the work-life balance and for me, it includes learning to when to stop and take out time to focus on various other things which are equally important.
Describe yourself in three words.
Three words that describe me would be persistent, innovative and empathetic.
Any advice for those who have ideas as great as yours?
I’ve noticed that the only thing that outstands an entrepreneur from others is their drive to take a calculated risk. If you have an idea, you need to first test it for viability. And once your hypothesis is proven, go out and build.