For her outstanding role as a development activist. Zafar was the first to set up a microfinance organisation in Pakistan. She is actively involved in the field of women’s economic empowerment.   

  • Founder and Managing Director of Kashf Foundation
  • Nominator: Rector Herman Van Goethem

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A gender intentional approach to Microfinance - the Kashf journey 

Established in 1996, Kashf Foundation was the first specialized and women focused microfinance institution in Pakistan that successfully demonstrated the case for women’s financial inclusion. Given Pakistan’s context this was a tall order and many doubted its viability, but today it has grown into one of the leading microfinance institutions in the country, promoting women’s entrepreneurship and having reached out to more than five million poverty-stricken families in the country. As the Founder and Managing Director of Kashf Foundation, I will look back at our exciting journey and how we have evolved to deliver gender intentional financial and non-financial products and services to women micro-entrepreneurs in order to reduce hurdles and clear pathways for their socio-economic transformation. In this retrospective reflection, I will relate our experience with some of the critical perspectives on microfinance and financial inclusion raised in the recent academic debate.