Where there is a will, there is a way. Such is the story of Amna, a young and aspiring girl from Lahore, who is one of the many motivated beneficiaries of the project ‘Empowering Women through Micro finance’, a collaboration between Coca-Cola Pakistan and KASHF Foundation. Women empowerment is the focus area of this project, supporting the 5by20 Goal of Coca-Cola, where the target is to empower 5 million women worldwide by year 2020. Since 2011 KASHF Foundation has partnered with Coca-Cola Pakistan to provide soft loans through micro finance, to women of less-privileged background, allowing them to earn livelihood for themselves and their families through entrepreneurial practices.

Amna’s story is an inspiration to the women of Pakistan, as it demonstrates the pivotal role of women in the development of our society. She is a well-qualified young woman who recently graduated in Fine Arts, and likes to help her mother, Parveen’s, home-based business of sewing bed sets, kitchen mats and teapot covers. Earlier Amna used to teach at a local English medium school, but she faced a lot of social and financial difficulties during that job. She wasn’t generating enough income to support her family, and her parents were not comfortable with her leaving the house and commuting alone. Her father is suffering from visual impairment, which had made her family financially handicapped until she started assisting her mother’s business.

After talking to Amna, it was apparent that she wasn’t compelled to help her mother with handicrafts, and she made this choice out of her personal interest. She is highly skillful with handicraft making work, and with the soft loans provided by KASHF Foundation, she is able to buy the required supply of raw materials and equipment, as well as save a fair share of that amount for investment. Today, she is able to support the household expenses solely, and her handicrafts are in popular demand in cities like Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala. She frequently travels to these cities with her mother and brothers to deliver the products and buy raw materials as well. Even though she has 4 dependents in the house, which includes her parents and two younger brothers, she feels pride in being economically and socially empowered to support them all. She also imparts knowledge about financial management and social well-being to women in her family and locality, which leads to achievement of another goal; social development.

To date, KASHF Foundation has been able to provide direct loans to 1,725 low-income women entrepreneurs and finance 3,162 loans for low-income women through repayments from the direct loans. Coca-Cola has spent $481,500 towards this project till now, and financial forecasts suggest that if the funding support continues to be around $100,000 every year, then by year 2020 the total number of beneficiaries will be over 13,700. The essence of this partnership resides in the ‘sustainability’ factor, where women are able to establish a viable foundation to support their household that financially expands with each passing year. Analysis of project results by KASHF Foundation show that every $1.00 spent has an impact of approximately $7.00, which reflects the broadened scope of benefits through loans and investment. Parveen has been a client of KASHF Foundation for 15 years, providing economic stability for the whole family, and now her daughter Amna has replaced her role at a much younger age, further improving the standards of living for her family.

The consistent support of our partner, KASHF Foundation, has translated into the continuity of support towards deserving women in the shape of microfinance assistance. Subsequently, Amna takes pride in her work and she feels more confident about herself today. She insists more women should come forward and seek opportunities to support themselves and their families independently. The idea of microfinance has helped many aspiring women like Amna in Pakistan, who have gained respect and motivation to strive for a better quality of life. The KASHF Foundation’s partnership with Coca-Cola is a shining example of how entrepreneurship can improve lives of individuals who are seeking opportunities to incorporate their talents and skills in business to generate income.