Congratulations to Kashf – the winner of the 2016’s European Microfinance Award

The 7th annual Microfinance Award was held at the EIB on the 17th of November 2016. From the 30 original microfinance institutions which had applied for the award, 3 finalists had been chosen and the Grand Jury had the unenviable position of choosing a winner among them. Each project certainly had a lot of merit, had helped many young people to access education and constituted extremely tough competition. LMDF would like to extend its congratulations to all 3 finalists.

The Kashf Foundation from Pakistan was chosen to be the winner. As Her Royal Highness, the Grand Duchess highlighted in her speech, in the challenging geo-political context in Pakistan, many young people would like to pursue their studies, but really struggle to access education. Even if they can, conditions in many schools are bleak. Classes are severely overcrowded, may lack the most basic facilities, such as running water, and ventilation. Stories of fires decimating schools are common.

Kashf has offered 850 loans to low cost private schools, to enable them to improve their facilities. Generators and running water are installed as priorities, making the environment much more conducive to learning. The project also works on school safety and ensures that students and teachers know what to do in cases of emergency. Besides the facilities, the programme offers teacher training to improve the quality of education disbursed. Kashf’s private schools have reached over 150,000 students providing them with an access an education which will open further opportunities for them in the future.

The project has a particular focus on education for women and over 75% of the students it has reached are female. LMDF has previously noted the benefits that education for women can bring and these are particularly notable in the challenging context of Pakistan.

With the funding provided by the award, Kashf plans to improve its Education Finance Programme, notably by developing new school training curricular and revising existing training modules. We look forward to hearing updates from them in the coming year.

Kashf’s efforts and the work of all the microfinance institutions nominated for the award makes a considerable difference to those looking to access education at many different levels and in many geographies. Yet as Anthony Lake, Director at UNICEF highlighted, the MDG’s goal of universal primary education was not reached and work needs to be done to ensure that the Quality Education of Goal 4 of the SDGs is delivered. We hope Kashf, and the other finalists, act as examples and spur on further developments in this area.

During the awards, the theme of next year’s awards was also announced: Microfinance and Housing. We look forward to learning more about innovative projects in this important area in the coming year.

©  European Microfinance Award // Marie De Decker // LMDF