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Acumen and Plan 9: Investing in Tomorrow’s Social Entrepreneurs

In May, Acumen Pakistan partnered with Plan 9 to identify upcoming social entrepreneurs that are using technology to tackle society’s most pressing problems. Set up by the Government of Punjab, Plan 9 is a technology-focused incubator in Lahore that incubates 24 companies in 2 cycles each year. During each cycle, selected teams receive office space at Plan 9 as well as multiple training, mentor, and product review sessions. Judges_and_Teams_Plan_9[1]

In total, Plan 9 received over 500 applications for their incubation cycle, of which 29 companies were identified as social entrepreneurs. On May 2, Plan 9 hosted the Acumen-Plan 9 Social Entrepreneurship Launchpad, where the top 12 of the shortlisted 29 social enterprises presented their business plans to a panel of judges for a spot in Plan 9’s next incubation cycle this summer. Teams started off by giving a five-minute pitch followed by a ten-minute Q&A session where the judges and audience members asked questions. Following the pitches, the judges narrowed down the applicants further to four top teams which gave more detailed presentations with a roadmap, financials, current business position, and anticipated and achieved milestones.

Members from the Acumen community also spoke at the event. Former Acumen Global Fellow Benje Williams spoke about “Connecting the Dots in an Interconnected World” where he took us through his journey to starting Amal Academy.Benje_Plan_9[1]

Current Acumen Pakistan Fellow Imran Sarwar took the audience through his work being done at Rabtt, and Sophia Ahmed spoke about the various initiatives Acumen Pakistan has undertaken and shed light on +Acumen courses, our leadership programs, and our investments in Pakistan.

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Two social enterprises were chosen for Plan 9’s next incubation cycle: Pak Caravan and #Moovy. Pak Caravan built an app called “Itsy Bitsy” that aims to encourage recycling and better trash collection in Pakistan. Their idea is to use the app to give users “points” for all the trash they deposit at a pre-assigned grocery store. These “points” can later be redeemed for grocery items at the store. #moovy is in the process of developing an application that will teach basic internet usage through tutorials. The aim is for the app to be built in to the phone when it is purchased. Through simple text that guides users towards tutorials, #moovy will create and upload a variety of videos that teach users how to surf the internet and how to use email. Both teams begin incubation in June.

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