“By delivering microfinance services to women from low-income communities, Kashf has catalyzed a transformation where men and women are equal partners in development, where the dignity of poor men and women can be restored, and where those without choices can exercise their ability to determine a better future for themselves and their families.”
Sub-Issue: Financial Services In Pakistan, the face of poverty is female, with one-third of homes at or below the poverty line.
The Skoll Awardee: Through a chance meeting with Muhammad Yunus, Roshaneh Zafar was inspired to quit her job and establish the Kashf Foundation in 1999. Believing that the Grameen model could help empower women both economically and socially, Roshaneh ignored warnings that a microfinance program focusing on women would not work in Pakistan. Starting with her own family’s funds and a volunteer workforce of five women, Roshaneh drove her colleagues to distant villages to start microfinance centers. Kashf was the first specialized microfinance program in Pakistan to specifically target women from low income communities, and evolved to become the first wealth management company for women from low income households. Women improve the economic status of their families by building entrepreneurship and financial management skills, gaining access to business loans, and obtaining micro-insurance services to reduce exposure to financial risk. Beginning with 15 clients in 1996, Kashf was serving 319,000 active clients through 152 branches at the time of the Award, with an outstanding portfolio of $47 million and a recovery rate of 99 percent. More than a third of its clients moved out of poverty within three years.
Impact since joining the portfolio in 2007:
- More than $265 million disbursed.
- Clients spend 13 percent more on education and 22 percent more on health care.
- Program offerings expanded to include training, financial literacy, and employment as well as loans.
- Insurance programs covering more than 600,000 lives (the client and her spouse).
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