Meet Karina Grosheva- a social impact entrepreneur and the founder & CEO at TaQadum, who focuses on digital innovation in international development and sustainability.
Growing up in a small town in Russia, Karina excelled in Mathematics from a very young age. While she always dreamt of travelling and working on the world’s issues of inequality and poverty, she made sure to maintain her interest in science and math.
In the initial years of her career, she was more of the perfectionist kind who would not feel content unless the result was up to the mark. In the last 15 years, she earned the opportunity of working as a consultant for Management Consulting and then went on to work for the United Nations. During one of her appointments with the UN, she worked closely with social entrepreneurs and tactics on creating human-centred design innovation. Originally, they just wanted to try her on issues she cared about. However, it was actually when she began her research in Lebanon which graduated towards a startup in a data labelling and AI space and this is how her initiative TaQadam was born.
The word TaQadam originally means “progress” in Arabic. Karina’s idea behind it was to ensure that the talented and underemployed youth should have access to the dramatic pace of AI application through data science knowledge and data work. With TaQadam, she is able to serve a great cause working for AI innovation, as well as provide subsistence income to youth that live in the post-conflict settings. Talking about her consumer base, she says, “Our customers like our social cause, but it is often recognized post factum. It is much harder to create and operationalize in countries like Lebanon or Sub-Saharan Africa, and thus it is important that clients – ideally – are more friendly to working with inclusive AI companies that are driven by a social mission.” She believes that digital space has no borders and we need to think about finding the right strategy and break-even for inclusive business projects.
According to Mina Salib, Startup Advisor at NUS Business School, National University of Singapore, ever since he met Karina, TaQadam as a product has evolved into a more mature and impactful solution, but what has remained constant is the determination she has demonstrated over the years.
“It is common that it takes time for founders to identify the right market in an early stage for them and their technology, and it’s during that time, that a founder’s conviction and passion matters the most. Karina has impressed me with her resiliency and ability to work ‘lean’. Her ability to do so has inspired people to support/join her team and ultimately brought TaQadam to the solid position they are now in. They now have a clear roadmap and plan for growth. It is for that reason that I fully support and recommend Karina and her efficient team,” he says.
In her experience as an entrepreneur who is learning and growing every single day of their lives, she has even managed to lead projects in inclusive digital work, and geospatial AI innovation in the last 3 years. Having a startup life and independent consultant profession, she admits to often struggling with boundaries and interpersonal skills in communicating with potential partners and investors. In fact, it requires her to take a lot of risks and responsibilities. But this has only made her stronger- “My life has changed indeed. I learned much greater independence in sharing my thoughts about work. I managed to contribute to some knowledge pieces and inspire some of my friends to try entrepreneurship. Learning from my journey, I can confidently state that there are many paths to success and failure. You can go up against the world, put all of the energy, blood and treasure and still the universe might just shrug- and this shows that it’s important to understand that it’s just not about the right time or luck- it’s actually about you embracing what comes towards you and continuing to build your own empire,” she tells us.