The Thardeep Microfinance Foundation (TMF), operating mainly in rural areas of Sindh, has used technology to design innovative financial services to reach and connect with underserved communities for income generation and supporting household well-being.
TMF’s endeavors were recently recognized at the 12th Citi-PPAF Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) in July this year when they won an award in the innovation category. The Awards are held every year by the Citi Foundation in partnership with the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF).
With TMF’s rapid growth in the last 5 years, they are now serving over 169,000 borrowers in multiple districts of Sindh with annual disbursements of over Rs. 4.8 billion. TMF has digitized an impressive 100% of their portfolio, which is now maintained and operated electronically. TMF has leveraged technology to increase financial inclusion effectively and efficiently. This year alone TMF disbursed 171,729 loans serving 1,081,034 people by providing the loan facility in different segments and sectors.
TMF, with Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF’s) support, has also implemented paperless appraisal system for their borrowers, whereby the entire appraisal activity is conducted using electronic tablets at doorstep reducing the loan process time from 15 days to only a less than 3 days now. It started branchless banking service in 2011 and currently, 100% of borrowers’ repayments are being processed through branchless banking channels across Sindh using vendors including Easy Paisa, Jazz Cash, Omni and HBL-Cash Over the Counter.
For the first time in Pakistan’s Microfinance industry, TMF implemented biometric disbursement allowing borrowers to receive loans through live biometric verification at Jazz Cash franchise across Pakistan. This ensures that the money goes in right hands at the right time. TMF was the first MFI to provide customers with the service of ATM card for its borrowers, allowing borrowers to withdraw their amount any time from any bank.
Amid the reduced stipulations of “Know Your Customer- KYC” regulations in the country, TMF has facilitated opening mobile wallet accounts of their borrower’s in collaboration with Easy Paisa and Jazz Cash. Through these accounts, the borrowers are now able to repay and carry out a wide array of different banking transactions through their mobile phones at home.
All these initiatives not only save time and money (previously borrowers spent money on documentation and incurred traveling costs) but also improve security (by minimizing cash handling), transparency (timely reporting and monitoring), productivity while reducing the cost of operations, storage needs and risk of robbery.
TMF won the Most Innovative MFI Award last year at the 11th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards and invested the prize money in Research and Development (R&D) to design new, need-based products.