The Kashf Foundation, founded in 1996 as Pakistan’s first specialized and women focused microfinance institution, commemorates two decades of pioneering social entrepreneurship and positively impacting the lives of over 1.7 million low-income women in Pakistan. Over the past two decades, Kashf has successfully championed the case for women’s financial inclusion, and has shown that women are bankable, credit-worthy, effective business managers and sound decision-makers. At the same time, Kashf has continued to innovate on its suite of financial and non-financial services to ensure impact on the lives of women and their families.
Kashf has cumulatively disbursed over 2.8 million loans amounting to over PKR 44 billion to low-income households, which have helped them set-up/expand micro-businesses to increase their incomes, savings, and standard of living. These households have also been able to create safety nets through life and health insurance, and have been able to improve their financial management and business development skills through Kashf’s capacity building trainings. Kashf has also focused on addressing community level and societal obstacles to women’s economic empowerment through a vibrant social advocacy campaign centred around social theatre, gender justice trainings, and public service messages.
Speaking about Kashf Foundation’s 20 years, Roshaneh Zafar, Founder and Managing Director of Kashf Foundation, said “It is in an incredible achievement for all of us at Kashf to be celebrating two decades of socially driven entrepreneurship. The real heroes in these 20 years have been our clients who have persevered against all odds; take for example the story of Asmat Zahra who used to produce school-bags for a middle-man; work was erratic and the wages were low. She decided to access Kashf capital to start a business and today she produces around 400 school-bags per week and supplies them to multiple cities, earning handsome profits through which she is financially and economically independent. Kashf has been able to set a precedent for financial independence among women, a sense of empowerment and as means to better their income and lifestyle.”
In celebration of their 20 years, the Kashf Foundation have collaborated with Pakistan’s most iconic and indeed philanthropic fashion designer Hassan Sheheryar Yasin [HSY], who himself has been pioneering programs designed to empower marginalized women in Pakistan. To celebrate Kashf’s 20 years, HSY will be creating a one of its kind 20 piece collection where each piece represents the twenty years journey of Kashf and used the handiwork of twenty Kashf clients. The HSY Kahsf collection is an ode to the craftswomen of Pakistan.
For more information on Kashf Foundation’s services, products and ways to make a donation please visit:
About Kashf Foundation
Kashf Foundation was established in 1996 as the first specialized and women focused microfinance institution in the country. Learning from the Grameen Bank’s experience in Bangladesh, Kashf focused on alleviating the economic and social constraints that women face in low income communities by designing a holistic approach for the economic empowerment of women. Kashf has cumulatively disbursed over 2.8 million loans, provided life insurance to over 5.6 million low-income individuals, trained over 1.2 million women in financial literacy and financial education, trained over 123,000 (20% women) participants through gender trainings, and graduated over 16,000 women micro-entrepreneurs through the Business Development and Incubation Program.
As of December, 2015, Kashf Foundation had an outreach of 249,000 active clients, 498,000 active life insurance policy holders and 1.1 million individuals insured through the micro-health insurance program. Kashf Foundation is also Pakistan’s first MFI to be certified in Client Protection Practices by the Smart Campaign and has received the STAR MFI ranking (Socially Transparent and Responsible) by Mix.
Kashf Foundation’s main strengths, through which it has been able to achieve sustainability and become the first institution in Pakistan to demonstrate a sustainable microfinance model, lie in its customer centric focus and holistic transformational approach, its ability to balance financial services provision with capacity building interventions, its mandate to provide effective solutions through building alliances with strategic partners, its strategic vision to build local and indigenous women focused business networks and its ability to mainstream the economic empowerment of women through a women centric approach to financial services delivery. In terms of geographic outreach, Kashf Foundation has presence across all provinces of Pakistan, with a vision towards developing region specific strategies to address gender level differences across the various provinces.
Kashf’s experience with doing women-led microfinance has demonstrated that when given the right training and the agency over decision-making women are better managers of money, i.e. they invest more (compared to men) into the key development priorities of their households including nutrition, well-being, household assets, and children’s education. Moreover, enhanced economic agency of women is linked to catalyzing intergenerational benefits; the impact assessment undertaken in 2015 by Kashf Foundation showed that 78% of clients reported the ability to enhance their nutritional intake as a result of Kashf’s program and the data also showed that participation in Kashf’s Financial Education Trainings increased the likelihood of improved food consumption by 2.6 times. Moreover, households where women were involved in the means of production were 40% more likely to improve food consumption – food security has a long-term positive development impact on the entire household. The study also showed that clients reported increased spending on their children’s education due to businesses they have set-up with Kashf’s support. Clients cited ability to send more children to school, send children to better schools, and send children for additional coaching to tuition academies as a result of higher incomes from businesses.