The country’s leading promoter of financial inclusion, Karandaaz Pakistan has signed financing agreements with 15 successful female entrepreneurs who took part in the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge – 2017. The entrepreneurs will receive grants and investment worth an estimated PKR 64 million to expand their businesses. The Challenge, funded by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), facilitates growth of women-led businesses by providing them technical support and an opportunity to raise investments from Karandaaz. More than 650 women-led businesses applied for the 2017 Challenge, of which 36 received business development training through Karandaaz’s partner organizations: Invest2Innovate (i2i) and a consortium of the National Incubator Centers of Lahore and BUITEMS, Quetta.

Karandaaz Pakistan signed financing agreements with female entrepreneurs Women Entrepreneurship Challenge - 2017

Speaking at the event, Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz explained, “Karandaaz partners with women entrepreneurs so they can realize the true potential of their ideas. We are happy to share that the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge 2018 is currently accepting applications from more women-led businesses and this time we have planned to provide the selected businesses customized support. They may also be eligible to receive financing from Karandaaz at the end.”

Shumaila Afsheen, Owner of Sprinkles Café, Quetta and a recipient of a grant from Karandaaz isof the opinion that, “If a woman can be a pilot or an engineer, then why can’t she start a business? Women must challenge these conventional ideas.

I had started a business but did not know how to make a proper business plan, define procedures, and maintain accounts. Karandaaz trained us in a number of these aspects.” Amneh Shaikh Farooqui, co-owner of Polly and Other Stories, a business that works with rural artisans and businesses across the country said, “When you buy a product from a rural artisans, the money you give them goes into paying the electricity bill and sending children to school.”

Polly and Other Stories plans to use financing from Karandaaz to expand their business and engage more women artisans and smaller rural businesses.

Patricia Seex, DFID’s Head of Economic Growth, speaking at the event, said, “The aim of this project is bigger than supporting these women to grow their businesses and create jobs for others.

It will create role models to inspire other women entrepreneurs. And show to banks and other economic actors that investing in women’s business is good for social and financial returns.”

Karandaaz Pakistan and its sponsors, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have a deep commitment to improving access to finance for women in Pakistan. The Women Entrepreneurship Challenge is one of the many initiatives that the organization has taken to accelerate women’s economic participation and financial inclusion.

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