Karandaaz Innovation

Nurturing the Ecosystem for Transformational Initiatives

Women Entreprenuership Challenge

Market scoping exercises involving female entrepreneurs revealed that unfavourable business and regulatory environments, coupled with societal and cultural barriers, lack of networks, knowledge and links to high-value markets impeded access to finance for women-led and managed businesses. While this was a problem for SMEs in general, it was disproportionately impacting women in Pakistan. Recognizing that financial institutions were reluctant to develop a sustainable strategy to address this significant market gap, Karandaaz launched its own program to help serve women-owned businesses.


Launched: May 2017
Program Closed: March 2018

Status: Investment phase

The first round of Women Entrepreneurship Challenge focused on improving access to finance for women-led business in Pakistan. Karandaaz Pakistan invited incubators and accelerators to create a programme designed to provide technical and financial support to female entrepreneurs. Two partnerships have been initiated under ICF2:

  • Invest2Innovate

Following extensive country-wide outreach, 36 women-led/managed businesses, were shortlisted to receive customized incubation/acceleration through KRN’s above  implementation partners. After successfully graduating, the female entrepreneurs pitched to a panel of judges; 21 women-led businesses were selected to receive funding through Karandaaz.

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Launched: June 19, 2018

The approach for WEC 2018 has been pivoted on lessons learnt from the first round. WEC 2018 targets women-led businesses that have been operational for 3 years, or more and are looking to scale up their business. Selected businesses will receive customised business development support and will be eligible for investment of up to PKR 20 million. In exceptional cases, Karandaaz may choose to invest a higher amount. Investment decisions will be made by a panel of judges appointed by Karandaaz.

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