100,000 Stories of Strength: Oraan’s Mission to Empower Women Across Pakistan

For a long time in Pakistan, women have had a hard time using banking services. Things like old-fashioned beliefs about gender, not knowing much about money, and not having good ways to use banks have kept many women poor.

A report from the World Bank in 2021 showed that only 11 out of every 100 women who are 18 or older have a bank account, while 20 out of every 100 men have one. This big difference tells us that we need to make banking services better for women too.

To fix this problem, Oraan is doing something great. It is helping women get past these problems and join the economy. People have been saving and lending money together in groups called ROSCAs for a long time. But Oraan saw that these groups could be better with technology.

Oraan made it possible for women to join these groups even if they were far away. They made a simple phone app that lets women join these groups, put in money, and take out money. Every one is checked carefully before they join. This made it much easier for women to use these groups to help with their money.

Lots of women in Pakistan don’t know much about money, so they don’t use banks much. A study in 2022 found that only 15 out of every 100 women understood money, while 47 out of every 100 men did. Oraan wants to teach women more about money so they can use banks better. They put helpful information on social media and a private group on Facebook. They also have meetings where women can learn about money.

Halima, who started Oraan, says, “We believe that letting everyone use banks can help make the country better.” Iqbal, who also helps Oraan, says that when women want to use banks, people ask them why. They might even ask for a man’s information to let them use a bank. These things have kept women from using banks and helping the country grow.

Oraan’s smart way of using technology to help groups save money is changing things in Pakistan. More than 100,000 women use these groups now. Oraan made using banks easier for everyone and made women feel stronger and more in control.

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