Global Leadership Awards
Roshaneh Zafar is the founder and managing director of the Kashf Foundation — the first specialized microfinance institution (MFI) to serve women in Pakistan. She believes that microfinance is about changing mindsets and enabling women to realize their inherent worth by “building that ladder which links what women are to what they can be.”
Roshaneh established the Kashf Foundation in 1996, after a chance meeting with Nobel Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank. Dr. Yunus invested in Roshaneh and her vision; she now returns the favor by investing in others, fulfilling her dream by working to empower hundreds of thousands of Pakistani women, helping them to transcend economic barriers that too often challenge their full and equal participation in society.
As a researcher with extensive field experience, Roshaneh transferred methodology into practice and creatively tailored Dr. Yunus’ model of microfinance to serve Pakistani women. Under her guidance, the Kashf Foundation has been one of the country’s fastest growing MFIs and the first organization of its kind to achieve financial self-sufficiency, thus practically demonstrating the business case for investing in women’s economic empowerment.
Since 1996, the foundation has expanded its impact from a mere 15 female clients to 301,000 clients and has cumulatively disbursed US$225 million in loans to over one million poor families. An innovator in the field of microfinance, the Kashf Foundation is the first nongovernm