VIATEC posted an articleHumaira Ahmed of Locelle on True Calling see more
Humaira Ahmed is the founder & CEO of Locelle, a Victoria-based enterprise networking platform to connect and engage women in the workplaces for support and mentorship.
Humaira was born and raised in Pakistan. In Pakistan, arranged marriages are very common and at ages 15 and 17 she was engaged to be married to men she didn’t know. A passion for math and computer science led Humaira to pursue higher education, which allowed her to escape those arranged marriages. Humaira and her family moved to Canada when she was 20 where she continued her education. She fell in love, got married and started a family. Humaira continued to feel passionate about business and tech, but felt isolated, craving a connection with like minded women who were ambitious and career minded. This desire led to the founding of her technology company, a social platform, Locelle.
“It's really important to be able to have the option to be a working mom, do something incredible that you're passionate about and do it really well. I think being in the tech industry has really allowed women like myself, and me, to actually be where I need to be.”
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Humaira Ahmed posted an articleThis Tech CEO Launched a Mentorship Program to Help Women Recover from the Career-Crushing Impact of the PandemicThis startup used its tech to help women recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. see more
When Humaira Ahmed, the Founder & CEO of Locelle Digital, a networking and mentorship platform for women, began hearing from her app members about the struggles they were facing as a result of the pandemic, she got curious about the impact it was having on women in particular. When she encountered the startling findings of McKinsey Global Institute’s regressive effects of COVID-19 on gender equality, as the leader of a social impact startup, she knew she had to move fast. She sent out a survey to explore the type of support her members needed during this time. The survey results revealed that 85% of women using the Locelle app wanted mentorship and 30% wanted to be mentors. Ahmed and her team quickly developed a mentorship program unlike any other.
"With a focus on action rather than conversation, we wanted to develop something concrete to help women recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. We started with matching technology to curate connections for mentees that aligned with their career goals. Then we measured the impact in quarterly reports to provide a tangible way for our mentees to see how mentorship has influenced their professional development and growth,” says Ahmed.
Locelle’s new mentorship program, Mentor Moments, is a fully-managed, 1:1 mentorship program designed to empower women in the workplace with tailored guidance aligned with their individual career goals and vision. What makes this different from most mentorship programs is the emphasis the Locelle team puts on professional development and career advancement. The team is dedicated to making space for mentees and mentors to get the most out of this relationship by taking the heavy-lifting off their hands in these 4 ways:
Locelle does mentorship a little differently. With the Mentor Moments program, mentees have access to a team of world-class leaders who they can rely on based on their individual career goals and needs. Locelle’s community of mentors include industry leaders like:
Manpreet Dhillon, CEO & Founder of Veza Global, who recently launched a free online resource for Canada’s technology industry that provides access to best-in-class Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) resources and tools.
Stephanie Redivo, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Program Lead, Translink, who is an active member and speaker in the global women in tech community. She regularly inspires employees to be their best selves and do their best work through inclusive behaviour.
Hurriya Burney, Vice President at RBC, Commercial Banking, who is dedicated to helping new immigrants, minorities, and ambitious women build confidence in the Canadian workplace.
Nataizya Mukwavi, Founding Executive Director of Black Women Connect Vancouver, who has created a collective of women who leverage their strengths, embrace their diverse experiences, build meaningful relationships, and celebrate Black excellence in B.C.
“My mentor really helped bring more clarity to the direction I want to go. Her approach was just what I needed to carve out an initial path to my purpose. I’m so glad I took a chance on being a part of this program and look forward to more sessions,” says one mentee, a Sales & Marketing Manager at a tech company.
You’re invited to The Power of Mentorship Panel & Info Session on Thursday, October 1 at 12pm PDT. This FREE virtual event is ideal for professional women who want to find a mentor, and who are interested in exploring ways the Mentor Moments program can help them advance in their careers. Attendees will hear from a panel of mentees and mentors who will share their mentorship stories, along with tips on how to get the most out of this program. Reserve your spot for this event before Oct. 1.
About Locelle Digital, Inc.
Locelle (pronounced Lok-elle) is a global platform created to connect, empower and advance women. Through mentorship and career development opportunities, Locelle delivers professional growth to individual professionals and teams. Locelle’s private networking and fully-managed mentorship program is powered by matching technology. Becoming a member gives women in the workplace the chance to instantly start growing their communities, take steps toward advancing their careers, and begin making meaningful connections with like-minded women and industry leaders – all on one platform! The Mentor Moments program manages all the heavy-lifting of scheduling, feedback, matching and impact reporting, that way professional women can pour all their focus into their career development goals. Locelle is excited to announce that it was recently selected to be part of the 4.0 Cohort of the Women in Cloud (WIC) Microsoft Cloud Accelerator.
For more information, contact Humaira Ahmed, Founder & CEO
T: 250.514.8182 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website URL: Locelle Digital Inc.
ArticleHumaira's journey from Pakistan to founder of Locelle in Victoria. see more
One of the hardest parts about growing up is breaking free from what people expect from you and learning to embrace who you really are. For Humaira Ahmed, founder of Locelle, growing up in a heavily male-dominated culture in Pakistan, was an especially challenging process.
“I was always told what I could do and what I couldn’t do,” says Humaira. “I was such a rebel though and I just couldn’t conform.”
Humaira grew up in a Muslim family in Karachi, Pakistan. Although her family was not overly religious, the culture affected her upbringing.
Humaira (left) with her siblings and father in Pakistan in 1987.
From a young age, Humaira loved the competitive nature of math and her favorite sport cricket. She excelled at both and was asked to join the national cricket team. When she shared the news with her mother she was told she wouldn’t be able to play cricket anymore because sports were not appropriate for girls.
“It wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t my mother’s fault, it was just the culture. “I didn’t see those restrictions upon my brothers so I knew it was a man’s world.”
It didn’t get any easier for Humaira in her teenage years either. A pre-arranged marriage was determined for her at the age of 15, to an older man who she had never met. Fortunately her parents called it off. “I remember being that 15 year old girl, crying every night and being like God please help me escape this and I will do amazing things with my life.” Two years later there was another proposal that her parents called off again out of fear she would be in a controlling relationship. This time she made a deal with her father that if she got into the best school they would wait to arrange her marriage till after she graduated.
Following her interests in math and problem solving, Humaira decided to pursue a degree in software engineering, a respectable profession for women in Pakistan. She was enjoying school when her parents decided to move the family to Toronto for better opportunities.
Eager to gain work experience like other young people in Canada, Humaira got a job at an IT Company. Once she was able to apply back to school, she transferred her credits into a computer science program at York University and continued working part-time. “I realized I was the only girl in a class of a 160. It was a shock. I was coming from around 40% women in my program to none. All my female friends in Pakistan are either doctors, engineers or lawyers. Even for a submissive society women are really qualified professionals there.”
She also noticed while working all the engineers were male. After months of switching classes and trying to fit in, she decided to go a different direction and switched into communications. “That was really hard because I’d never done anything in communications,” says Humaira. “It was brand new to me.” Humaira’s father didn’t understand her choice to pursue communications as a profession but she credits her communication skills to giving her an advantage. “It really helped me because coming to a new culture I was able to write better and present better,” says Humaira. “For somebody that was an immigrant it was such a valuable skill.”
After five years of living and working in Toronto, she met her husband who lived in Vancouver. She decided to move across the country to be with him.
Humaira with her husband and two daughters at Island View Beach in 2017.
They lived in Vancouver for a year and spent a lot of time visiting the island. Humaira always loved Victoria and suggested they move to be closer to his family. Her husband found a job in tech right away but Humaira didn’t have as much luck. She decided to start her own marketing business for tech companies. One of her first clients was VIATEC, where she worked on the Mustard Seed Food Bank Challenge and helped launch the VAP program.
Although Humaira was doing well in her business and enjoying being a new mom, she was struggling with feelings of isolation. “I was spending time online but I wasn’t making meaningful connections. I was constantly scrolling through social media and feeling depressed. I seemingly had it all but inside I was suffering.”
It was through these really difficult times Humaira was inspired to start Locelle - a platform for women to connect with like-minded women in their area.
“I wanted to easily be able to talk to women that were like me and have a tribe to support me in making good decisions.”
After going through VIATEC’s Accelerator program, Locelle launched its beta in October 2018. Although she had lots of passion, Humaira faced the challenges of most start-ups in securing financing to grow her initiative.
Locelle’s soft launch in Vancouver, October 2018.
“There’s been so many ups and downs. It’s ridiculous how much rejection I’ve faced but to me it’s all a part of the journey. It doesn’t phase me anymore.”
Locelle has been getting lots of attention including being a VIATEC Awards Start-Up of the Year Finalist and featured at Collision, a global tech conference in Toronto. With over 1100 members on its beta and launched in 3 major cities, Humaira has big plans to make Locelle a global community that can help women overcome the stereotypes they often get boxed into.
“We need to break stereotypes from a very young age and acknowledge people for who they are. We all bring our unique strengths and perspectives and we just need to be open to them and not box people up so early on.”
Humaira with her two daughters in Tofino in May 2019.
Humaira believes it starts with setting an example for future generations. She sees Locelle as a way for women to support each other in a safe place, creating opportunities for women to tackle challenges like isolation, self-doubt and gender inequality.
“When other women empower you, you truly feel the sense that I can do this. I’ve been able to overcome so much. I feel empowered in my own life and I want every woman in the world to feel that way.”
Tessa Bousfield posted an articleLocelle, nominated for Small Business BC Awards, "Best Community Impact," "Best Concept" and is open to public voteLocelle, nominated for Small Business BC Award, "Best Community Impact" and is open to public vote see more
Locelle, nominated for Small Business BC Awards, "Best Community Impact," "Best Concept" and is open to public vote
Locelle, a networking platform for professional women, was founded by Humaira Ahmed, after she had her second child. She was increasingly feeling socially isolated and depressed and needed an easier way to connect with like-minded women who lived closeby.
With current social networking space, people spend more time online than offline and are becoming increasingly lonely. With no easy way to find and meet up with like-minded women at the time, Humaira founded Locelle. With a background in Software Engineering and Marketing, she knew she could pull it off. The platform launched in October 2018 after 10 months of hard work, and has hundreds of professional women using the platform in Victoria and Vancouver. Women from big tech companies are especially using the platform as they feel isolated in male dominated space, and feel the need to meet other like-minded women locally. Women are making meaningful connections and the platform aims to tackle social isolation amongst local women.