October 7, 2010 | 12:41 PM
Who She Is: Roshaneh Zafar is the Founder and President of the Kashf Foundation, one of the fastest growing Microfinance Institutions in Pakistan.
Why We Love Her: The inspiration for the Roshaneh Zafar’s microfinance work began in 1993 when she sat next to Professor Yunus at a conference on global economics. Three years later Ms. Zafar left her job at the World Bank and founded the Kashf Foundation as a way to bring microfinance to poor women with entrepreneurial aspirations in her homeland of Pakistan.
The Kashf Foundation, which means miracle or revelation, was the first specialized microfinance organization in Pakistan and the first to focus on poor women. The program has experienced remarkable growth, bringing its services to over 300,000 people. Today, the foundation has 152 branches in Pakistan disbursing over $202 million in total loans. It also offers many different types of services including Insurance, General Loans, Home Improvement Loans, Business Loans, and an Emergency Loan program.
The Kashf Foundation has been recognized on numerous occasions notably in 2002 for the Grameen Foundation’s Microfinance Excellence Award and USAID’s OneWoman Initiative Award. In Addition to these notable honors, President Obama acknowledged the exceptional work of Ms. Zafar and the Kashf Foundation in a speech about successful entrepreneurs in Muslim countries.
Ms. Zafar was already on the top of our list of admirable women in microfinance before the recent flooding in Pakistan, which has displaced an estimated 21 million people. So many Pakistani families, including those being assisted by Kashf have been displaced or injured as a result of the flooding. The Kashf Foundation has started a relief fund in the hope of providing 10,000 people with food and supplies needed to survive during this time.
If you would like to find out more about the effort please visit floodrelief.pk
You can also visit their website at www.kashf.org
Quote: “I had a belief that women in my society need to be recognized. In fact, when I began to look across the world, I realized that women are really not in positions of power and are not in positions of being recognized for the work they do. When I look at the world of the future I really want to see a world where women are gainfully being recognized and they have the affirmation to do what they want to do.”