Karandaaz Innovation

Nurturing the Ecosystem
for Transformational Initiatives

Innovation Challenge Fund

Innovation Challenge Fund (ICF), launched in 2016 with funding from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The goal of the Fund is to generate innovative yet practicable solutions for solving complex problems in the areas of financial inclusion and entrepreneurship. The fund is especially focused on addressing barriers faced by SMEs, women and youth in accessing appropriate financial services and participating in the economy. ICF periodically issues competitive calls for proposals against a pre-defined problem. The fund follows a competitive process to select winners and provides them with risk capital and grants, depending upon the nature of the theme and specific objectives of a round. Given the scale and scope of Karandaaz’s work, the ICF remains agile and dynamic in its approach to design challenge rounds and support winners. The fund is managed by a lean team supported by an advisory committee of experts leading selection and funding decisions. Click Here to Download ICF Toolkit


Periodically, Innovation Challenge Fund launches theme based rounds and issues a call for proposals.  Eligibility criteria, including who can apply, are set in accordance with the problem that Karandaaz seeks to solve in a particular challenge round. A two-stage process is followed for selecting innovators. Initially, expressions of interest (EOI) are invited. Shortlisted innovators submit full business plans and present before a selection committee. Winners are supported with funding from Karandaaz. Post award, ICF works with innovators to transform their ideas into tested, commercially viable solutions. By demonstrating success in solving entrenched exclusions and challenges of access to finance and entrepreneurship through a commercial approach, ICF aims to stimulate the market and create knowledge spill overs across industry players.

Launched: September 2016

Status: Applications closed.

The first round of Karandaaz Pakistan’s Innovation Challenge Fund focused on improving the current mechanism of foreign remittances from Pakistani workers working in different parts of the world. Two projects are being supported under ICF Round 1 through grants:

Launched: January 2018

Status: Applications closed.

The third round of Innovation Challenge Fund (ICF 3) focused on supporting the development of innovative, cash-flow based credit scoring models for small and medium enterprises. Two projects are currently being supported under ICF Round 3. The first is with Allied Bank Limited and the second is with a consortium of Bank Alfalah Limited and DigiServ.

Read the relevant press releases here and here.



Through the Financial Inclusion of Women Challenge, Karandaaz invited proposals for gender-smart, women-centric financial products, and services that reflect the needs and preferences of female customers in the financial services marketplace. The goal of the challenge is to provide financial service providers, FinTechs, research and advisory firms, and other relevant market players an opportunity to pilot and test, or scale interventions that account for the different female market segments, needs, and preferences of women, and the bottlenecks to their inclusion. Applicants were invited to fill out an online application form detailing their proposed solutions. Following the call for applications, Karandaaz conduced two ideation/design thinking workshops open to all applicants, with the purpose of developing and refining ideas around fostering financial inclusion of women in Pakistan.For more details visit: https://fiwc.karandaaz.com.pk


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Non-profit company registered under Section 42 of the Companies Act, 2017