ISLAMABADA, Pakistan: GuarantCo, a part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (‘PIDG’), has pledged to grant USD 80,000 as financial support to DeafTawk.
A local startup incubated at the National Incubation Center (NIC) under the Jazz xlr8 incubation and accelerator programme, DeafTawk aims to provide online sign language services to empower people with hearing impairments. Luke Foley, TAF Manager at PIDG and Angela Silva, Grants & Compliance Manager at GuarantCo, officially announced the grant at a ceremony in the presence of the Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, representatives from Jazz, Pakistan’s leading digital communications company, and TeamUp.
“By creating connectivity opportunities for Pakistanis with learning difficulties, we are expanding our knowledge economy through mainstreaming our differently-abled citizens so they can contribute to national development. We are committed to leaving no one behind in terms of education and opportunities,” said Dr Shireen Mazari.
“GuarantCo is delighted to be collaborating with Jazz, DeafTawk and the PIDG Technical Assistance Fund to co-finance the setup of an online sign language service to empower people with hearing impairments in Pakistan,” said GuarantCo CEO, Las Perera. “This builds on the work we have already undertaken since 2013 with Jazz to finance, via a sukuk credit enhanced by GuarantCo, a mobile phone network in rural areas of Pakistan enabling a highly successful mobile phone-based literacy programme which has supported the education of 2,500 rural women. We are very excited to now be supporting this initiative, which we hope will make significant steps towards inclusion of people with hearing disabilities in Pakistan.”
PIDG CEO, Philippe Valahu, said, “PIDG is excited to be part of this innovative project which will empower people with hearing impairments and allow them to communicate effectively. Inclusion is an important part of our work, and we are excited to follow the progress of this project.”
DeafTawk was part of the 3rd Cohort at the NIC and as part of the premium acceleration program, Jazz xlr8, the startup has received both dedicated mentorship from the leadership at Jazz and, been provided an opportunity to exhibit and network at international forums.
“It is a proud moment for us to see one of our Jazz xlr8 program participants in DeafTawk receive international recognition and support,” said Aamir Ibrahim, CEO of Jazz. “Through its acceleration program, Jazz is laying the foundation for a sustainable technology ecosystem by providing resources and expertise to help local startups fulfil their potential and grow communities.”
Speaking at the event, Zouhair Khaliq, founder of Teamup, remarked, “The problems that we face today are opportunities for the entrepreneurs to solve. It is heartening to see how our startups are committed to solving humanity’s greatest challenges.” He added “DeafTawk, has done remarkably well, and I feel proud to say, despite the challenges, the co-founders have gained international recognition with the impact they are creating and with all the support they have actually made use of technology to give hope to the marginalized community, recognize their talents and empower them to contribute to the change they believe in.”
DeafTawk is a one of its kind local startup having created an online solution for the connectivity of the deaf community with qualified sign language interpreters, while also working on building capacity of sign language interpreters for quality sign language services.
Through this solution, the Deaf community can access the services of a qualified language interpreter on video call. This allows them to easily communicate with the wider community without having to use sign language.
Through this grant, DeafTawk plans to uplift the scale and coverage of the application, while also building the capacity of interpreters, so they are able to provide services to both national and international audiences.