Karandaaz Pakistan, with support from UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), has launched a new financing programme to improve access to finance for women businesses. This new initiative, titled “Women Ventures”, will start accepting applications from eligible women-led and owned businesses on a rolling basis throughout the year. Women Ventures (WV) has evolved from Karandaaz’s earlier pilot programme-Women Entrepreneurship Challenge (WEC)-which successfully ran for three consecutive years and has made investments of PKR 340 million in 18 women-led businesses and generated approximately PKR 700 million in revenue for these businesses and supported over 900 jobs. As part of WV, Karandaaz will be entering into partnerships with co-investors and market developers to serve a larger number of women enterprises and to strengthen the ecosystem supporting this market segment. Accredited institutional partners that are interested in pipeline-sharing and or co-investing can apply to become part of the WV initiative. Currently Fatima Gobi Ventures – a joint venture between Fatima Ventures (Pvt.) Limited and Gobi Partners, Social Innovation Lab, and Telenor Velocity have already partnered with Karandaaz on the WV programme.
WV is open to businesses from all sectors and applicants may apply from anywhere in the country. Businesses with at least 51% or majority shareholding by a woman who has a direct role in the management are eligible to apply for WV financing. Ideally, the business should have operational history of at least 3 years and revenue (sales) of at least PKR 5 million in the last 12 months. In exceptional cases, a business with an operational history of less than 3 years may also be considered provided it is generating sufficient revenues and demonstrates high potential for scalability and growth. More details about WV can be found here.
Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz said, “WV is an institutionalized and scaled-up version of the women entrepreneurship challenge programme which was launched in 2017. WV will support high growth, scalable, women-led enterprises in Pakistan; a segment that has traditionally faced a negative bias in accessing growth capital through formal financial channels. WV has a unique approach because growth capital provision is augmented by customized business development services that helps maximise chances of success of women-led businesses. It is the only investment instrument in the local market that offers meaningful capital on development finance terms based on the capacity and growth needs of these business. Through WV, Karandaaz aims to support a larger number of women led businesses to meet their ambition of business expansion, increase organisational sophistication and improve their prospects of raising commercial capital from formal financial markets.”
Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Chairperson Karandaaz said, “The case for supporting women-led businesses is simple. In Pakistan only 8 percent of micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) owners are women. Access to finance is 6 percent and only 1 percent of women are engaged in entrepreneurial activities as opposed to 21 percent of men. Notwithstanding the dearth of capital and tough business conditions, a growing number of women-led businesses are emerging in both traditional and non-traditional areas. They are creating new jobs and introducing innovation in business practices. However, for a positive cyclical effect and to fully realise women’s economic potential institutional mechanisms and partnerships are needed in terms of access to finance and supportive ancillary business development services. By providing growth capital to women-led businesses under the newly structured Women Ventures, we hope to demonstrate their commercial viability for investment, motivating banks and investors to view them as serious market contenders.”
Ms. Annabel Gerry, Country Director DFID Pakistan said, “No lasting developmental impact is possible, either socially or economically, if half of the world’s population is not empowered to reach their full potential. Eliminating extreme poverty in the developing world and meeting the global challenges that will emerge in the next decade will require the talents and potential of whole populations, not just one half. While businesswomen have traditionally faced greater challenges in accessing financing, they have been better at reaping higher dividends, responsibly handling funds, and making sustainable social impact once their businesses grow. DFID’s objective behind WV is to promote a trusted platform that supports women entrepreneurship in Pakistan for increased economic activity and job creation”