Kaarvan: Crafting Livlihoods

Kaarvan: Crafting Livlihoods

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Kaarvan builds business and marketing capacities of women entrepreneurs- “the hidden workforce” - living in low income communities and enables them to become visible market players and shareholders of the company, Kaarvan.

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If Field of Work is "Other" please define in 1-2 words below (and explain in detail in the entry form):
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Positioning of your initiative on the Mosaic of Solutions™ diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Lack of access to markets or products

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Turn hidden value into alternative markets

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

This field has not been completed. (333 words or less)

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

Kaarvan builds business and marketing capacities of women entrepreneurs- “the hidden workforce” - living in low income communities and enables them to become visible market players and shareholders of the company, Kaarvan.

Describe what makes your idea unique—different from all others in the field.

Kaarvan Crafts Foundation is working within a sector that has been ignored by the Government, Donor Agencies and many Development Practitioners working within Pakistan. Although there has been a rapid increase in the number of organizations providing Micro Finance to poor households in low income communities there has not been a parallel emphasis on Business Development Services.

Kaarvan Crafts is the first Not for Profit Company providing sustainable and efficient Business Development Services to groups/clusters of women entrepreneurs across Pakistan. Moreover, Kaarvan is the only company in which women entrepreneurs are the shareholders of the company.

Kaarvan’s work has introduced innovation at both the conceptual and the delivery levels. Conceptually, Kaarvan has changed the thinking of high end customers who are now proud to purchase high end quality fair trade products. At the delivery level- Kaarvan has provided a sustainable and direct link between the village and the market through opening a network of four fair trade shops.

How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

The company’s goal to alleviate poverty by enhancing business capacity and empowerment of women entrepreneurs. The company has two main programs: the Business Advisory Services/Supply Chain Management program (launched in 2000) to increase business capacity and the Fair Trade Marketing/ program (launched in 2003) to increase empowerment. Kaarvan aims to provide professional business develoment services such as product development, production management etc to women entrepreneurs in low-income communities and on the other front Kaarvan markets the product produced by women entrepreneurs through a network of Fair Trade Shops and Corporate Customers.

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how did you create them?

Kaarvan develops partnerships with players in local areas in order to “identify: and assess” the entrepreneurial opportunities within the areas. Kaarvan has developed partnerships with, Government Organizations, local Non Governmental Organizations and Community Based Organizations in areas of Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Haripur, Tharparkar Quetta, etc. Through these partnerships Kaarvan identifies, assesses the potential of expansion and then provides Business Development and Marketing Services to women entrepreneurs who are living in these areas. Kaarvan documents its partnership through an MOU. In addition, Kaarvan establishes partnerships with private media companies to support its work.

In which sector do these partners work? (Check all that apply)

Citizen sector (nonprofits, NGOs) , Private sector , Public sector (government).

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

The intended impact is to foster thousands of strong/viable grassroots enterprises- prospering under leadership of role model women entrepreneurs- and thereby reducing poverty across Pakistan.

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation.

First, Kaarvan is providing business/marketing services to approximately 2500 women entrepreneurs surviving on Rs. 6000 or less per month. Thus, a key MDG for Kaarvan is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The extra income generated through sales is spent on food, education, clothing, or even building savings- .
e second key MDG that Kaarvan is working towards is gender equality and women’s empowerment. Kaarvan specifically promotes enterprises managed by women. By providing market channels-based upon fair-trade policies- to women currently facing restriction on mobility -the program allows women to participate fairly and effectively in the local markets. Second, the entrepreneurs learn about existing labor laws and fair trade practices and thereby build their negotiating and bargaining powers.
Third, social capital is built up as women entrepreneurs have access to information, networks, and support. Fourth, the objective of the Company is to develop the women entrepreneurs so that they can become company directors and assume management roles within the Program.

Does your innovation address and/or change banking regulations?


How many people does your innovation serve or plan to serve? Exactly who will benefit from your innovation?

Kaarvan’s target group is the women entrepreneurs from low income (primarily rural) communities of Pakistan. The target group comprises of women ages 18 years and over, with a skill base, and belonging to economically vulnerable households. Most of these are daily wage earners (with expected daily incomes of between Rs.Kaarvan is working with 2500 entrepreneurs currently. As the average one entrepreneur’s household comprises of 8 members, Kaarvan is indireclthy working with 20,000 women. By 2010 Kaarvan intends to work with 5000 entreprenerus. 80-120.)

Financing source
How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

Kaarvan maintains a strong belief in financial sustainability. Kaarvan believes that the program cannot on one hand promote concept of sustainability or profitability to grass roots entrepreneurs while on the other hand itself being dependent on donor grants. A key test of this principal was in 2003- when Kaarvan decided to develop the Fair Trade Marketing Services Program at the request of the entrepreneurs although the potential donors were not interested in supporting the program.

Kaarvan relies upon its sales of products and revenues from consultancy to Fair Trade Labellings Organizations (www.fairtrade.net) to achieve financial sustainability. In the future, Kaarvan will seek assistance from donors to expand work in other sectors such as seri culture, or dried fruits, but finance the work in embellishment/craft sector through sales.

If known, provide information on your finances and organization:

• Annual budget 2007: 10.0 Million Rs
• Annual revenue generated 2007: 7.8 Million Rs.
• Number of staff (full-time, part-time, volunteers) 16

What are the main financial barriers and how do you plan to address them?

The main financial barriers in this sector are 1) the ability to attract export orders given the political instability within the country and 2) low interest of private sector or donor in funding in this sector. The first one will be addressed going to trade shows and establishing direct linkage with buyers while highlighting the "cause" of the program. The second barrier will be addressed by either not applying to donors, but using money granted by awards and competitions to expand the program or writing to donors to get involved in this sector.

Aside from financial sustainability, how do you plan to grow the initiative?

The growth of the enterprise will be led by identifying and providing business development/supply chain management services to more and more clusters of women entrepreneurs working in sectors of embellishments, weaving, handicrafts, sericulture, bangles, etc. These products will then retailed at the Fair Trade Shops and shown to corporate customers for potential order, thus earning revenue for the program shareholders.

The Story

What was the motivation or defining moment that led to the creation of this innovation? Tell us the story.

While studying in the 12th Grade of Lahore American School, I was deeply affected by the teachings of my English professor. His teachings encouraged me to question the issues we took for granted and to debate and propose ideas that challenged status quo.

In College, I was puzzled by phrases like “development”, “third world”, and “poverty” in my Political Science Class. I had led a privileged life in Pakistan and had been blind and indifferent to how the majority of the people in my country were living.

After college I returned to Pakistan and worked in two local NGOS over a period of a year and a half and was disillusioned. I did not see how my work was leading to a difference in the economic realities of the poor. After one training, an old village woman turned to me and said “Don’t you think if we had enough money we would provide the best healthcare for our children…”I was acutely embarrassed by her words.

I enrolled into an MBA program and soon heard about Kashf Foundation, a micro fiancé provider. After my MBA I applied to Kashf.

At Kashf, I realized that the cultural, social, and economic constraints did not create an enabling environment required for women to start a business.. I also realized that there was a dearth of business development service providers, especially within low income communities.. This kindled a spark within me to provide these women entrepreneurs professional business and marketing advisory services.

Please provide a personal bio of the social innovator behind this initiative.

Valedictorian of Class of 1991, Lahore American School, Paksitan,
* BA (Magna Cum Laude/Phi Betta Cappa Scholar), Mount Holyoke College, MA, USA 1995..
*MBA, Lahore University of Management Sciences, 1998.
* Manager Training & Enterprise Development, Kashf Foundation (MFI), 1998-2003.
* CEO Kaarvan Crafts Foundation, 2003-present.

a) Please identify the individuals that your innovation benefits (Please check all that apply)

Producers , Consumers .

b) Do you help the people you serve to buy goods or services using financial innovation? If so, how?

In the Business Development Services/ Supply Chain Management Program the Kaarvan team identifies groups of women entrepreneurs within a particular sector , i.e. matt weaving, embroidery, crochet,x have expressed a need for building their capacity. The second phase comprises of the training for women entrepreneurs on production set up, production management, quality management, and product development- a hands-on process and women entrepreneurs also learn skills of developing systems, building quality controls, cataloguing, and pricing and costing. In the third phase, the entrepreneurs are trained to visit the markets for purchasing the raw materials or marketing their products.

c) Do you help the people you serve to sell goods or services using financial innovation? If so, how?

In the Fair Trade Marketing Program, Kaarvan provides a space to the women entrepreneurs to market their products in upscale markets under fair trade conditions and learn hands on about fair trade systems, and the customer trends. The women entrepreneurs build their negotiating powers without having to suffer from social and gender discrimination. The products are sold through a network of Kaarvan’s fair trade outlets to retail customers (men and women from the middle to high income strata and between the ages of 12 years and 60 years), to corporate customers, and to large wholesale stores.