The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center held a public discussion on “Gender Dynamics of Development in Pakistan,” with Ms. Roshaneh Zafar, founder and managing director of Kashf Foundation, chair of Kashf Holding and chair and founder of Kashf Microfinance Bank Limited based in Pakistan.
The event was moderated by Shuja Nawaz, director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.
Microfinance has become a widespread tool to alleviate poverty and empower those who traditionally lack access to banking and related services, particularly poor women. The Kashf Foundation, established in 1996, was the first specialized microfinance organization in Pakistan and focuses on providing support to women across the country. With nearly 300,000 active members, Kashf has provided a way for women to become entrepreneurs, enabling them to open their own businesses and support their families. Borrowers have gone from participating in small income-generating activities to creating enterprises that are actively creating jobs in the local economy. Ms. Zafar will discuss how microfinance has the potential to transform the lives of those in poverty and lead Pakistan on a track of sustainable growth, and the role of gender dynamics in addressing Pakistan’s developmental challenges.
Roshaneh Zafar is also the founding member of the Pakistan Microfinance Network and is a member on the board of several NGOs and networks, including Women’s World Banking, Engro Foods, and Kaarvan Crafts. She is a member of the UN Advisory Group on Inclusive Financial Services, member of the Vital Voices La Pietra Council for promoting Women’s Issues and a member of the following Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum: Gender Gap Council and Pakistan Council. Ms. Zafar is also a member of the US Department of State’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership’s (ICWBL) Subcommittee on Access to Capital. Ms. Zafar is a graduate of the Wharton Business School University of Pennsylvania in finance and economics and also holds a master’s in international and development economics from Yale University.