The Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani nonprofit organization providing micro finance services and advocacy on social issues, won the seventh European Microfinance Award for its support of private schools that serve students from low-income families. The programme also offers credit facilities to low-cost private schools with teacher’s capacity building training and school management trainings. It includes pedagogy training, roles and responsibilities of a teacher, effect of the teacher belief, values and attitude on teaching practices, lesson planning, and class management trainings.
The theme of this year’s award was “Micro finance and access to education”, to recognize the role of micro finance in enabling access to education for children and skill-training for youth and adults to enhance their employment and self-employment opportunities. Three finalists were chosen to compete for the €100,000 prize, namely; Fundación Génesis Empresarial from Guatemala, Kashf Foundation from Pakistan, and Opportunity Bank of Uganda. Among all three, Kashf was selected as the winner of the award by the selection committee composed of members of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) and Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg (InFiNe.lu).
Kashf Foundation is Pakistan’s first specialized microfinance institution which was created with the aim to alleviate poverty by providing a suite of high quality affordable financial and non-financial services to low income households, especially women, in order to build their capacity and enhance their economic role. Kashf was started in 1996 as an action research program, and over the course of its evolution, Kashf has been able to help hundreds of thousands low-income households, especially women to lead lives of dignity through economic empowerment via financial access. Even though Kashf began its journey as a microfinance institution, today it is positioned as a wealth management group since it provides a one window solution to its clients for protecting and managing their wealth and enhancing their productivity and resources.
Kashf Education Finance Programme (KEFP), for which it has won the award, has disbursed about 850 loans to schools serving 150,000 students, 75 percent of whom were female. Kashf works in an environment where over half the state schools have no toilets and no water and 18% of teachers are absent every day, Kashf does not only provide loans but also supports in quality education, health, hygiene and safety issues as well as sustainable financial practices and human resource management. The Programme and quality of teaching affected the schools directly with an increase in enrollments.
The Kashf foundation has won several other notable awards to date including; The Global Leadership Award for Economic Empowerment by Vital Voices 2010, The One Woman Initiative (OWI) by USAID Award 2009, The Social Entrepreneur of the Year by Skoll Foundation USA in 2007, CGAP Financial Transparency Merit Award 2005 & 2006, The AGFUND International Prize for Microcredit 2005, The Microfinance Excellence Award by the Grameen Foundation-USA 2002, Women of Inspiration Award by National Hero Foundation 2012 and The Smart Campaign Award for Consumer Protection and Responsible Finance in 2012.