2018 BAI Global Innovation Award Honorable Mention

BAI Global Innovation Awards 2018 finalist FARFA

Wild Card

FARFA Foundation – Pakistan
FARFA “Business Literacy Training” Incubator

“Financial inclusion and empowerment of women through the FARFA Business Literacy Training Incubator.”

FARFA is not only a Micro Finance Institute which provides micro credit to homebound, poor working women, but is made up of social entrepreneurs who have a vision and sense of responsibility towards the community. FARFA BLT INCUBATOR grooms the organization’s women, small business loan clients on the effective use of this cash by providing business literacy trainings to the women entrepreneurs. The women, in many cases illiterate, are provided guidance around the maintenance of their basic accounts, the importance of business planning, cash flow, cash in, cash out, price control and innovation, which includes both price and product innovation. FARFA also emphasizes business marketing and networking. These business concepts are taught at the FARFA Business Literacy Training Incubator so they can incorporate these elements into their businesses in order to grow successfully and raise the standard of living for their family, especially their children.

The Problem

Business illiteracy among women. Lack of mentorship for local businesses. Lack of collateral.

Women represent almost half of this region Pakistan’s population and therefore also half of its potential but unfortunately they are not given as many opportunities to get business literacy or freedom to avail opportunities of market exposures and to learn the successful business running techniques along with all required field exposures as the other gender receives in this conservative region.

The Solution

FARFA Business Literacy Training Incubator works in a very unique way. When a woman applicant applies for a micro business loan, we examine the case by questioning her capacity to grow her home based business, and her willingness to learn the business techniques. This question has often a very certain answer of “Yes.” With the help of FARFA’s incubator they will have the opportunity to learn business management, marketing and networking and the importance of innovation in their small scale businesses.

In this way we work with a home bound poor working women for the period of two and a half months. We teach them business techniques during weekly visits. Once the business literacy training is complete, we provide these small women entrepreneurs with micro business loans to practice all those business techniques which were taught to them in the training sessions.

So not only do we issue them the business loans, but first we explain to them the effective uses of this cash for the growth of their businesses, which directly relates to their family standards, high living ratio and the child care.

The Outcome

Our innovative idea to not let go any of our poor home based working women client, without getting the “Business Literacy Training” is changing the lives of so many cottage industry women in the backward fields of Pakistan.

So far since its launch in September 2016 we have successfully made 170 women business literate. These women are breaking new grounds in their fields of business, while availing the amazing opportunity to learn once again through the FARFA incubator. But despite FARFA Foundation’s huge efforts, there are still millions and millions of poor, house bound working women who need to get this business literacy training along with micro credit to enhance their businesses and finally to get rid of this vicious circle of poverty.

Key Contributors

1. Founder/Head Operations: Shairbaz remained involved in leading marketing and community teams, developing strategy for FARFA BLT Incubator’s management, online marketing, and community engagement and support.

2. Chairperson: Toseef Tahira, was part of the original founding team of who conceptualized the FARFA BLT Incubator platform and helped launch it publicly in 2016.

FARFA team photo

Development Timeline

January-February 2016: Research & Project Design

March 2016: Expertise of Project

April 2016: Incubation of Project

May 2016: Financing of Project

June-July 2016: Implementation of Innovative Idea

August 2016: Marketing of Project

September 2016: Successful Operations of Project

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