The country’s leading promoter of financial inclusion, Karandaaz Pakistan has joined hands with three business incubators to launch its program on women entrepreneurship. Through the DFID-funded Innovation Challenge Fund, Karandaaz is providing grants worth PKR 25 million to LUMS, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management, and Invest2Innovate (Pvt.) Ltd.
These grants will be used by partner incubators to identify women-owned, growing businesses and provide them with high quality entrepreneurship training. Businesses that perform well in the programme will be eligible to receive investment from Karandaaz. Women-owned business across Pakistan that have the potential to grow and are looking for investment can apply to be part of the program, which will run from September 2017 till March 2018. The program will build the capacity of the women entrepreneurs and also provide them access to suitable investors.
Women face several challenges in accessing finance for growing their businesses. The Karandaaz program is customized to overcome some of these challenges, such as lack of information and business networks, mobility, and lack of assets. The objectives of this round of ICF are not only to support female entrepreneurs but also build the capacity of incubators to continue supporting female economic empowerment. The programme will give the implementers an opportunity to test customized approaches to solving issues that women in business face in the country and scale up these approaches.
Speaking about the programme, CEO Karandaaz Mr. Ali Sarfraz explained, “Karandaaz is committed to breaking barriers for women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. We want to demonstrate to the private sector the tremendous potential within women-led businesses.” Mr. Ali Sarfraz commended the enthusiasm of all 30 business incubators that took part in the pitching process of this second round of the ICF. “We were happy to see the enthusiasm amongst the incubators and accelerators who came up with novel ideas to support women-led enterprises. I am confident that through steps such as Karandaaz Innovation Challenge Fund more incubators will focus on working with women-led businesses and the winning programmes will set models of success,” he added.
Karandaaz Pakistan promotes access to finance for small businesses through commercially directed investments and financial inclusion for individuals. Karandaaz Pakistan has financial and institutional support from leading international development finance institutions; principally the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.