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Karandaaz Offering Grants for Digital Financial Services in Savings and Insurance

Karandaaz Pakistan is currently accepting applications from commercial banks; branchless banks; PSO/PSPs; Fintechs; non-banking financial institutions; and entities that primarily focus on the excluded segments of the population, to apply for grants to scale up their pilots that generate new financial use-cases for digital channels. Two categories that have been defined for this set of grants are savings and insurance. In savings, pilots that are testing the use-case generation in term deposits, periodic returns, and rotating savings and credit association (ROSCA), locally known as committee system will be focused. In insurance, pilots that are geared to improve adoption of health, life, assets, and travel insurances through digital financial channels will be considered. The last date to apply for grants is May 11, 2021.

Karandaaz under its strategy for 2020-2024 is building and supporting models and solutions for the financial inclusion of the unbanked and underbanked population through private sector engagement. In addition to empowering those who do not have an account, this underbanked population must be targeted with pilots that introduce financial deepening. Entities interested to apply for grants under this pilot to scale program can get more details from

Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz said, “Karandaaz collaborates across the ecosystem to maximize impact through improved access to digital finance for low income, rural, and otherwise excluded population segments, especially women. We work with all stakeholders to facilitate the digitization of government and other payment streams as well as provide support for innovation in the realm of digital financial services that originate from the private sector. To this end, Karandaaz runs multiple programs that contribute to a holistic impact on the ecosystem. It is crucial to extend support for innovations that are likely to create sustainable social impact as far as financial inclusion is concerned, but are often limited in terms of resources. This pilot to scale program was specifically designed to support such innovative ideas.”

Rehan Akhtar, Chief Digital Officer Karandaaz said, “We are looking for pilots that are intended to make a difference through identification of consumer adoption strategy, digitization of information flow, incentives adoption, technically develop systems and products, test new use cases, test multiple consumer interfaces and activate on-ground adoption of a saving or insurance solution. We are hopeful that these grants for scaling up innovative pilots will help increase the product portfolio of mobile wallets, specifically with insurance and savings products and re-invent existing un-conventional digital financial services for these two categories.”

Despite increased uptake of digital channels for financial services in the last 12 years in Pakistan, research and data shows that the users have a low-value perception of such services. Identifying and communicating a compelling value proposition to consumers is vital for increasing use-cases. Understanding the nuances of how consumers of different segments earn, save, and spend their money can help providers develop relevant value propositions for each segment. This pilot to scale grants from Karandaaz will help create value propositions that resonate with the end-users under the categories of savings and insurance and broadening as well as normalizing everyday usage of digital financial services and products for these functions.

Shifa Foundation launched Food for Daily Wagers Campaign

Shifa Foundation has launched Food for Daily Wagers Campaign for the needy and poor families including widows, daily wagers, elders who can’t afford and need help. The food package of 35KG each has been provided to the families in Islamabad and Jehlum. Under the food distribution package, Shifa Foundation has planned to provide food packs to as many as Two Thousand families in other cities. The food package includes flour, oil, sugar, tea, rice, seeds, dates, salt and soft drinks.

Mr. Adil Rauf, Manager Outreach and Community Engagement, Shifa Foundation said that, Shifa Foundation distribute food package among the needy families every year and ensure that the deserving families get best quality food items. Shifa Foundation adopted a theme “Lockdown Mei Neiki Ko Unlock Kro” and nvite other institutions and philanthropists to join in this noble cause through Zakat and donations so that a large number of households could be served. The food distribution will continue in different cities throughout the month of Ramadan.

Karandaaz Providing Grants to Engage Design Experts for Digital Financial Service Providers

Islamabad: Karandaaz Design Thinking as a Service Program has been subsidizing design thinking services since last year for digital financial service providers that offer products through mobile and web-based platforms. This year Karandaaz is again offering an opportunity for entities, that have an existing mobile or web-based platform of their product or service or intend to develop one, to apply for matching grants from Karandaaz for contracting design thinking services. For this, Karandaaz has formed a panel of top-of-the-line design thinking service providers and is subsidizing their services for the applicants through matching grants. Financial products can be complex and may appear more daunting for a majority of the population when presented digitally. Hence a majority of the population, especially in an economy with low literacy levels and even more inadequate financial literacy, are unable to benefit from them. This limitation results in lower understanding, lack of trust, lesser adoption, and the potential of such products to impact financial inclusion remains untapped. This year Karandaaz has further fine-tuned the program and increased the matching grant amount to up to PKR. 1 Million. The design agencies that Karandaaz has included in the panel are Ideate Innovation, Designist, and Systems Limited, all with a proven track record of solving design problems for renowned organizations through the use of best international practices of human-centered design. For each applicant, the most appropriate design thinking service provider from the panel will be selected on cost and quality-based criteria. The last date to apply under this program is April 18, 2021. Interested entities can apply online at

Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz while talking about the significance of Design Thinking as a Service Program said, “Incorporating human centered design in digital financial products can lower the complexity, break barriers, and improve customer understanding, trust, and adoption of such offerings. Many upcoming digital financial service providers are unable to engage expert design thinkers while developing solutions due to the paucity of resources and resultantly miss out on critical insights, skills, and knowledge of international best practices. Lower adoption of such products means segments of the population that can be brought in to the folds of formal financial systems through digital technology, miss out on this opportunity. We are confident that the subsidy offered by Karandaaz will bridge this gap and improve the efficacy of homegrown solutions.”

Rehan Akhtar, Chief Digital Officer, Karandaaz said, “Interested entities that are operating in the financial services space or are leveraging financial services e.g. payments for their products or services and are passionate about making it easier for their customers to understand and better engage with digital payments may also apply under this Design Thinking as a Service Program. We are hopeful that more players from the digital financial industry will take this opportunity to get expert design thinkers to help them develop intuitive and human-centered designs that may attract more customers that previously only relied on conventional financial systems or remained financially excluded.”  

Ali Farid Khwaja, Chairman KASB, one of the companies to have availed this opportunity last year, said, “The grant from Karandaaz has been extremely helpful in getting us new insights into the customer preferences and behaviors through a human-centered approach to design. It led us to completely restrategize and change our approach to our product KFunds, a savings and investment platform. The focused design recommended by the design agency that was on Karandaaz panel of expert firms was refreshing and helped us in identifying the customers’ pain points and defining an experience journey based on intuitive design.”

According to the World Bank Global Findex Survey 2017, Pakistan is one of the few countries where the digital gender gap has increased. Under Design Thinking as a Service Program, Karandaaz has kept an exclusive category for women-centric ideas and encourage the digital financial service providers to implement product and service designs that particularly improve the adoption and retention of women customers. 

Dolmen Mall is celebrating Pakistan Day by Unifying the Colours of Pakistan at all three malls!

Pakistan’s first international standard mall will celebrate unifying colours of Pakistan by bringing together the diverse cultures and communities at all three Dolmen Malls in Karachi from 19th to 23rd March 2021. 

The mall with a heart will pay a tribute to the nation’s valor and resolve as all three malls have adorned themselves in patriotically crafted thematic ambience representing our nation’s colours leading up to the significant day. Additionally, popular local and international brands at Dolmen Malls joined the celebrations by offering discount offers starting from 23% off in stores. 

Located at the most prime location in Karachi, Dolmen Mall will have safe celebrations with Green Sales and by engaging customers, celebrities & socialites in online and in-mall engagements such as flag hoisting, cake cutting and various competitions. There will also be a lot of winnings for customers who will shop in mall by availing exclusive Pakistan Day offers and will interact online with Dolmen Mall. Life-size national monuments display, patriotic ambiance and brand partner activations will be part of the festivities. The flag hoisting and Cake cutting ceremony will be hosted around bloggers, School kids from The Citizen’s Foundation and in mall customers.

On this occasion Anum Nadeem, Director Marketing, Dolmen Group shared,“Having a legacy of over 25 years in the retail industry, Dolmen Mall understands the vitality, endurance and strength of a foundation. On the 81st Resolution Day, we stand tall representing Pakistan and its people – this year’s theme is aimed at celebrating a United Pakistan with our customers” Till the 23rd March, the spirit of patriotism will be evident at all three malls with Pakistan Day Special Offers and food discounts on leading brands. Shop your heart out through the sales at international and local brand outlets in Clifton, Tariq Road and Hyderi to win amazing gifts, giveaways and discounts amidst many other activities from 19-23 March 2021.

Karandaaz and Haball to run a Pilot to Scale Supply Chain Payments Project

Karandaaz Pakistan, under its Pilot to Scale Program has partnered with Haball, a B2B financial technology company, to run a project that proves the significance of digitizing all supply nodes in the retail value chain for higher acceptance of digital payments. Under this particular grant, Haball, in collaboration with a corporate entity and branchless banking wallet provider will digitize an entire value chain enabling distributors and their retailers to order and make payments digitally from manufacturers to end-consumers. The hypothesis for this pilot project is that the acceptability of digital payments increases if supply chain players from manufacturer to distributor and retailer and to the end consumer are all using digital payment platforms. For the purposes of the pilot, Haball will create an ecosystem where payments are made digitally from corporate to retailer level and vice versa. Since retailers will be enabled with digital wallets for making value chain payments, this, in turn, will help them receive payments digitally as well, and the end-consumers will also be able to make digital payments for everyday household items.

The pilot is expected to prove that while the paper-based payment instruments bring with them a host of problems, including manual reconciliation, which is prone to errors and delays and can be taxing for downstream retailers and merchants, enabling retailers to digitally accept payments is not possible with singular efforts of microfinance institutions and telcos. In order to increase the uptake, a holistic institutional approach involving multiple parties is needed to make sure that all the nodes are streamlined.

Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz Pakistan said, “Karandaaz is currently running multiple programs to support the digital financial services sector of Pakistan and build models and solutions for the financial inclusion of the unbanked and underbanked population. In addition to empowering those who do not have an account, we have specific programs that target the underbanked population with pilots that introduce financial deepening to such segments. Karandaaz Pilot to Scale projects in partnership with different private sector entities are supporting the overall digital financial services ecosystem in the country by making it possible to test innovative ideas for viability in the Pakistani market and scale the successful ones and disseminate learnings for wider use. I am happy to note that under this project, Haball is taking a top-down approach and its partner corporate will mandate the uptake of digital payments for the whole supply chain. Such a solution can have a far-reaching impact. The SMEs involved in the value chain will be able to have easier access to finance as lending institutions will have a better view of the businesses’ existing financial position. This also means that these formal lending institutions can offer customized loan and lending products for each individual business in any supply chain.”

Rehan Akhtar, Chief Digital Officer of Karandaaz Pakistan said, “The categories for Pilot to Scale projects have emerged based on the learnings from the past interventions undertaken by Karandaaz in partnership with the private industry from 2016 to 2019 and the white spaces in the market. The value chains in focus under this pilot to scale grant project are from agriculture, retail, and manufacturing sectors and the private sector institutions including banking and non-banking financial institutions, FMCGs, logistics companies, fintechs, B2B service providers, value chain aggregators, and platforms, etc. can apply for grants under this program. The objective of focusing on these categories is to broaden the horizon of Karandaaz interventions and include all major efforts, in addition to payments.”

Speaking about the significance of this grant, Omer Bin Ahsan, CEO Haball said, “Partnership with Karandaaz is to achieve mutual goals that are financial inclusion and promotion of digital payments by integrating tightly into each value chain. We are also leveraging our partnership with Karandaaz to involve relevant financial institutions to integrate with the value chain directly. This shall enable frictionless supply chain payments under this pilot and enhance the digital payment canvas. Haball Pvt. Ltd. is a B2B financial technology company focused on eliminating manual order processing, reconciliation, and paper-based payment methods that bloat up the cost of doing business.”

Women’s transition into financial inclusion is often held back by the psychological barriers they face that may include hesitation in attending training events due to the unequal gender ratio at the training centers or the absence of a local support system in the form of female change agents. Haball has planned to employ women brand ambassadors as part of the on-ground activation in the targeted locations. This on-ground team will conduct training sessions for women on how to use the existing technology for making payments, gather data on which use-cases can facilitate uptake of digital payments amongst women, and encourage customers including women to open mobile wallets and transact with retailers digitally.

According to the State bank of Pakistan’s Quarter-3, FY19 Report, Real-Time Online Branches (RTOBs) had the highest share in the value of transactions, roughly 82.2% – 236.1 million transactions of value PKR 17.5 trillion. This channel is mostly used for value-chain payments and has only decreased by 10% in the last 13 years.

Karandaaz Pakistan is currently accepting new proposals under this Pilot to Scale Program in the categories of digital payments, digitizing payments in value chains, and use-cases of digital channels. Entities that already have a play in the value chain, have a focus on innovative solutions for digitizing payments either in down-stream part or up-stream part or both and commit to using learnings from this pilot to scale their operations can apply for grants under this program.

TransPeshawar Launches the Bike-Sharing Service for the 1st Time in Pakistan

TransPeshawar launched the Zu-bicycle-sharing service today in a ceremony held at the Peshawar University. In a company statement, TransPeshawar acquired 360 state-of-the-art bicycles docked at 32 stations around Peshawar University and Hayatabad area. The bicycle kiosks installed at each bicycle station will have a facility for customers to view their cards’ status and access their credentials. The ceremony was attended by government officials, including the Provincial Minister Transport of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Shah Muhammad Khan.

The statement further added that by adding non-mechanized traffic along the whole hallway and giving first and last-mile networks, the Peshawar BRT would advance contamination-free climate, great wellbeing, and comfort for commuters. Peshawar will be the first city of Pakistan to be using bicycles as public transport in the city. The BRT public transport system’s motivation is to expand admittance and utilize public transit while avoiding traffic congestion and lessening carbon emission on Peshawar streets. It is additionally about a manageable, dependable, and practical facility for people in general for quite a long time to follow.

On this occasion, Provincial Minister Transport Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Shah Muhammad Khan, said, “The government is determined to fulfill its commitment to provide the best public transport system to the people of Peshawar.” Said the Provincial Minister KPK. “Now it’s your turn to use the public transport as responsible citizens of the country,” he said. On this occasion, the CEO

TransPeshawar, Mr.Fayyaz Khan, briefed the government dignitaries and said, “With the induction of Zu-bicycles as means of public transport, Peshawar will be the first city of the country to take the leap in reducing carbon emissions to curb pollution which is on a high in this region.”

TransPeshawar has outsourced BRT and Zu bicycle management, Intelligent Transport System (ITS), and security to LMK Resource (Pvt) Ltd, a globally recognized organization working in Pakistan. “LMKR is proud to play its part in creating smart, sustainable, ethical, and inclusive transportation systems across the country,” said CEO LMKR Pakistan Jahanzeb Moazzam Khan. “Zu bicycle, a program which offers city dwellers a green and affordable means of transport, is a testament to the role technology can play in creating a resilient and inclusive society. We are happy to see Peshawar as the First City in Pakistan to offer this service,” he added.

The registration to avail of this service has begun since the start of the month. The initiative is lauded by the public, including the university students who would now be conveniently reaching the last mile of their destination by using Zu-bicycle.

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