Karandaaz Pakistan has signed grant agreements with 2 FinTechs, Oraan Tech Pvt. Ltd. and Techlets Pvt. Ltd, with funding from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a separate one with NRSP Microfinance Bank with funding from UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). These grants will help in getting more women financially included and closing the gender gap in Pakistan’s digital financial services industry. All three partners were selected through the Karandaaz Financial Inclusion of Women Challenge run during 2019-20.
Given the early stages of Pakistan’s digital financial services market and the low number of active digital accounts, there is a wide gap in determining the pricing, products, and messaging strategies that can maximize the poor and hereto unbanked population’s adoption and usage of digital financial services. Access to finance, financial literacy, account opening, usage, and activation are key issues hampering the wider adoption of digital financial services and ultimately leading to low financial inclusion in the country in general and for women in particular. Through these grants, Karandaaz aims to support initiatives of the three grantees that directly address the low uptake and active usage of digital accounts among the female population. The solution offered by the grantees will enable the female population to acquaint themselves with digital financial services and understand how to leverage digital accounts in their daily lives.
Ali Sarfraz, Chief Executive Officer, Karandaaz said, “Realizing the need to cater to the pervasive gap in Pakistan’s digital financial services landscape, Karandaaz wanted to partner with innovators who had pilots for gender-smart, women-centric financial products and services. Our goal is to provide our partners Oraan, Techlets, and NRSP Microfinance Bank, an opportunity to pilot, test, and scale interventions for different female market segments. To make tangible progress towards targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals, Pakistan must take actions to facilitate women’s participation in the process of development and fostering the financial inclusion of women is a core theme for Karandaaz. We hope that economic empowerment for more women will be a direct result of these grants and this support to our partners will enhance more unserved and underserved women’s agency over money and create a more permissive environment for women to play their due economic role. Evidence shows that when women have the power to make, spend, save, and control money, they make gains not only for themselves but also for their communities.”
Halima Iqbal, Chief Executive Officer, Oraan Tech Pvt. Ltd. said, “Pakistan’s low savings problem is well documented and seemingly intractable. Oraan’s mission since its existence has been to expand financial access in the country, with a particular focus on boosting financial inclusion for women. Karandaaz’s support will help us accelerate and widen our efforts to promote savings and financial literacy among women to make them financially inclusive and empowered.”
Ahsan Tahir, Chief Executive Officer, Techlets Pvt. Ltd. said, “Our proposition is to enable more than 100,000 socially active businesses to work with 500,000 influencers and affiliates, also called “Walees”, to promote and sell their brands, messages, products, and services to Pakistan’s over 72 million internet-enabled retail consumers. The support from Karandaaz will help us accelerate Walee’s AI-driven trade capabilities and facilitate earning opportunities to target millions of previously unbanked female businesses and influencers to connect, collaborate and be compensated based on performance.”
Zahoor Hussain Khan, President & CEO NRSP Microfinance Bank said, “Our presence in remote rural locations has enabled us to identify a substantial women customer base willing to work as branchless banking agents. The initiative of Karandaaz will support NRSP bank to empower rural women and enable them to perform as branchless banking agents for facilitating financial transactions at the village level.”
Rehan Akhtar, Chief Digital Officer of Karandaaz said, “The proposed solutions during this challenge were invited in areas that facilitate women’s financial inclusion including credit, savings, payments, alternative credits, e-commerce, insurance, remittances, pensions, etc. These are all areas which directly impact women’s financial health and offering them will help drawing women towards digital financial services and drawing them into the ambit of financial inclusion.”
Karandaaz Pakistan is supporting small and medium entrepreneurs by increasing access to finance for unbanked populations by leveraging digital technologies, developing and disseminating evidence-based insights, and encouraging innovation in financial space. Karandaaz has been funded by DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.