In light of a meeting last week between theBenazir Income Support Program (BISP) and the delegation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), BISP and Karandaaz Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Islamabad today under which Karandaaz will support BISP’s efforts to catalyze economic empowerment of its beneficiaries. This will be achieved through joint efforts of Karandaaz and BISP for closing the digital financial services (DFS) usage gender gap in Pakistan byadding a gender-intentional lens to the BISP program. Karandaaz will conduct an assessment of BISP and its various programs of government to person (G2P) payments and develop recommendations encompassing the operational, functional, and policy aspects of BISP.
The activities under this MOU shall consist of a study of BISP and all its initiatives including unconditional cash transfers, conditional cash transfers, and complementary and graduation programs to arrive at recommendations for successful schemes for ‘graduation out of poverty’. Karandaaz, under this MOU will also help BISP in identification of opportunities for development of product features and delivery mechanisms for high-impact use cases that empower women including private savings, employment opportunities, and livelihood activities.
Speaking at the occasion, Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz Pakistan said, “The economic empowerment effects of social protection programs could be expanded when they are designed through a gender intentional lens, and the transfers are delivered digitally and directly into an account owned and operated by a woman. We hope that this partnership will help BISP to implement improvements in its policies and operations that lead to an increase in its beneficiaries’ control over their personal financial decisions and enhance women’s prospects for economic empowerment.”
Speaking at the event, Omar Hamid, Secretary BISP said, “The partnership will help us identify opportunities for policy interventions and improvement of BISP’s internal processes and systems, through digitization and re-design. We are committed to development of product features and delivery mechanisms for high-impact use cases that empower women, including private savings, health and education spending, employment opportunities, savings group and livelihood activities that could be subsequently integrated into the BISP existing or new programs.”
BISP is the premier safety net institution in Pakistan and running one of the largest targeted unconditional cash transfer programs focused on poor women with an immediate objective of consumption, smoothing, and cushioning the negative effects of slow economic growth. According to World Bank, social safety net programs help reduce the poverty gap by 15% around the world. The long term targets of BISP include meeting the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate extreme and chronic poverty and empowerment of women.
Karandaaz Pakistan is promoting financial inclusion for individuals by employing technology-enabled digital solutions and access to finance for micro, small and medium businesses through a commercially directed investment platform. The company has financial and institutional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).