Majeedah's husband had been sick and unable to work for several years. In addition to the small piece of land which Majeedah tilled once a year, their only other source of income was a milk-producing cow purchased after taking a loan from a milk wholesaler. The terms of the loan stipulated that Majeedah would sell all the milk produced to her creditor, at a price that was Rs 100 per maund less than the prevailing market rate. Translated into real terms, this meant that Majeedah was paying interest at 300 per cent. Recently, Majeedah took a loan from Kashf Foundation. And by adding Rs 1,000 from her savings, she has managed to clear her debt. Her family�s income has since increased by Rs 800.
Established in 1995, to bring credit services to rural women entrepreneurs, Kashf Foundation , whilst presently in an action-research project stage, aims to develop into a large-scale microfinance program along the lines of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Unlike many other credit programs run by NGOs involved in general social uplift, Kashf is probably the first NGO in Pakistan focusing exclusively on extending credit to poor rural women.
Currently the project has 100 borrower-members who are involved in a number of activities. In the predominantly rice growing area that Kashf is working in, many women are involved in small-scale commodity trading. They buy and sell rice, making money on the price difference. This is a quick turnover business with a pay back period of about 10-12-weeks. Another popular income generating activity is goat rearing. This, however is a more risky venture. The dry spell this winter, for example, resulted in severe illness and death amongst the livestock.
Although Kashf currently lends to women, it maintains a flexible attitude to the future. Feasibility studies, conducted at the outset of Kashf�s operations, have shown that Kashf can eventually move away from being wholly donor-funded and become a commercially viable organization. To do so, however, it will need to extend its scope to include men as well. Currently, however, it needs to ensure that it gets enough help from donors to see it through, to becoming the commercially viable concern it aims to be.