WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Masood Khan, has told visiting Pakistani women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunities to expand their businesses through US development promotion entities as well as International Financial Institutes (IFIs). The entrepreneurs, numbering seven, are visiting the United States as part of “Accelerator Programme for Women Entrepreneurs”, sponsored by the US State Department, from May 10 to June 30. The Ambassador, who hosted them on Wednesday, said that such exchanges are vital in terms of providing networking opportunities and outreach to new markets. “I am particularly impressed by the role our women-led enterprises are playing.” As women empowerment is a priority for Pakistan, he said, their exposure to the US tech market would broaden their horizons and provide them with a fresh stimulus for expanding their businesses. The Ambassador said that such visits not only help projecting Pakistan’s soft image globally, but also contribute to an already thriving startup ecosystem in Pakistan. Masood Khan informed them that many opportunities were opening up for Pakistan’s private sector. “Microfinance for women empowerment and female-led enterprises project is available. Pakistani women entrepreneurs should avail themselves of these opportunities,” he said. The visiting women entrepreneurs are leading diverse startups. “My food takeaway venture aims at empowering the deaf youth by creating enterprise and employment opportunities for them in one of the largest industries (Hospitality) in Pakistan,” Ms Ayesha Raza explained while introducing her startup. Further, they shared their experiences and said that they had the opportunity to attend major conferences, visited local US-based incubators and offices of major companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and PayPal. They said they were provided with multiple networking opportunities throughout the eight-week period and pitched their ideas to selected US-based investors present on the east and the west coasts. During their visit, they also called on US Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, Dilawar Syed, a Pakistani-American businessman and entrepreneur. The seven-member team travelled to San Francisco (Silicon Valley), Austin, Seattle, Washington DC, New York and Boston. The programme was aimed at providing training, networking opportunities and access to global investors and venture capitalists.