Saira Siddique – The woman who built a startup from a hospital bed

After surviving a car crash that left her hospital-bound and unable to walk for months, Saira Siddique embarked on a mission: making health care accessible to Pakistanis. The 45-year-old left her high-profile job in government health to pitch her app linking doctors and patients by video to investors.

Months later, with Covid-19 hurting businesses across Pakistan, Siddique’s firm, MedIQ, burst on to the scene as the country’s first “virtual hospital”.

“[The pandemic] really gave a boost to my company,” said Siddique.

With face-to-face doctors’ appointments restricted due to contagion risks, Siddique’s company, connecting patients across Pakistan with doctors and pharmacies, was suddenly in demand.

MedIQ served 16,000 patients in its first six months. Almost two years on, the number has increased by nearly 20 times.

Also Read: Pakistani startup ‘Bazaar’ Featured as a Case Study by Harvard Business School

Siddique is one of a growing number of women in Pakistan who are defying conservative gender norms by jumping into the health tech industry.

Saira Siddique, founder and CEO of health tech company medIQ, poses for a photo at her office in Islamabad, Pakistan on April 14. Photo credit: medIQ

“Running a startup business is like riding a bull,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the capital Islamabad. “You never know which way or how hard it is going to buck.”

Siddique’s company raised $1.8 million in an early stage of financing recently after receiving mentoring in the World Bank-backed WeRaise programme, which helps women-led ventures in Pakistan raise capital.

Also Read: Pakistan’s startups take centre stage

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