Dear Friends of Kashf
When I set out to establish Kashf Foundation, twenty years ago, there were many naysayers and critics that questioned the need and efficacy of a women-focused microfinance institution. Today, twenty years down I am confident that the resilience and perseverance of Kashf’s clients have proved the naysayers wrong. Kashf’s clients have demonstrated the business case for investing in low-income women’s micro-businesses. Kashf’s raison d`etre has caught on and many other organizations focusing on addressing women’s economic needs have come up.
While the need for women-focused microfinance has become apparent, Kashf has been engaged in ensuring increased efficacy of micro-credit by providing a suite of complementary products and services. These have included micro-insurance, micro-savings, financial literacy trainings, financial education interventions, business development trainings, business expansion interventions, social advocacy through the mediums of drama and main stream media. On a recent field visit to Sargodha, I met Asmat Zahra who has a successful school-bag stitching business – before setting up her own business she used to work on menial wages in a school-bag stitching factory. Long working hours coupled with low wages were a constant source of discouragement for Asmat, which led her to think about establishing her own business. Asmat approached Kashf for a loan to purchase raw material and equipment for her new set-up. Today, after 7 years of running a vibrant school-bag business Asmat employs 6-7 workers in her workshop where they produce 50-60 bags per day! She receives orders from local market vendors on a monthly basis. Asmat has been also part of Kashf’s financial education program, and has received trainings on business development and innovation from the Business Incubation Lab program, which has allowed her to improve the marketing aspects of her enterprise further.
Today Kashf continues to play its pioneering role in the microfinance sector; it has tested and scaled up a family focused health insurance program, where in a period of one year 592,473 were reached. It has also successfully initiated a partnership with UBL Omni to offer a women centric monthly savings account, in order to not only inculcate a habit of savings amongst clients but to allow them to build up a future pool of funds to meet unplanned or planned needs. Kashf’s focus over the next 5 years is to become the first ever wealth management company for low income households, while mapping impact both in terms of productive management of existing household and business assets of low income families, but also developing strategies to protect and grow such assets.
Kashf’s journey would not have been possible without the support and guidance of Kashf’s supporter, donors and board of directors. I would especially like to thank Mr. S.M. Zafar, Dr Ishrat Hussein, Dr Attiya Inayatullah and Mr. Mueen Afzal who have led the Board and Kashf management through this exciting and productive journey of 20 years. I would like to thank the Grameen Foundation, especially Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the Agha Khan Foundation, the Government of United Kingdom, the Skoll Foundation, Acumen Fund, the Government of Canada, OMV, the Coca-Cola Company, and Aman Foundation for their contribution to Kashf’s mission. I would also like to especially mention the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and the role they have played for the advancement of micro-credit in Pakistan, while supporting Kashf throughout this period.