Microfinance for women can reduce poverty
SLAMABAD: Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and Citibank are playing an important role in helping the poor and marginalised communities in becoming masters of their destiny through provision of inclusive microfinance services at their doorstep.
Addressing the 8th Citi-PPAF Micro entrepreneurship Awards ceremony, he said the efforts of PPAF and Citibank for encouraging and recognising the efforts of micro entrepreneurs in overcoming adversity. He said that the micro entrepreneurs are the role models and future of Pakistan. “Micro entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to alleviate poverty,” he said, adding that the sector development role of PPAF and Citi in connection with microcredit and financial inclusion by reaching out marginalised communities in far-flung rural areas is highly commendable.
The minister said that he was extremely happy to see that Citibank and PPAF are working together for the economic growth and prosperity of the poor and disadvantaged households, who are generally excluded from the mainstream microfinance services. “The economic indicators at present may seem disappointing but we have the capability to turn around things for the betterment of our people. We need to take difficult steps now to secure the long term future of Pakistan,” he added.
Iqbal appreciated efforts of the qualifying and successful micro entrepreneurs for taking charge of their lives and benefiting from the microcredit facilities, not only for themselves but also for their families and communities. He said that the government programmes were aimed at helping the poor and marginalised people across the country through a comprehensive framework of development.
Citibank Managing Director and Citi Country Officer Nadeem Lodhi said that the microfinance is the pillar of Citi’s corporate social responsibility. He said Citi Foundation-funded initiative enabled them to create a highly effective platform to showcase successful talent in the country and recognise their innovative business models. He said that during the last seven years, awards worth over $635,000 have been given to 160 exceptional entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
Qazi Azmat Isa said that PPAF is fully focused on empowerment of women, good governance, transparency and accountability. He said that PPAF ensures investment in institutions of the poor and those (institutions) supporting the poor. He said that PPAF always stresses inclusive development in every sphere of life. He said that this year’s winners and runners-up included an overwhelming number of women and disabled who belonged to different religious communities like Hindu, Sikh, Christian, and Muslim.
In his address of welcome, PPAF Sr Group Head Ahmad Jamal said that these awards are held to recognise the resilience of and dynamism of poor households in the face of extreme adversity. He said that these microentrepreneurs are our heroes who are determining their own destiny despite challenges they face.
PPAF Financial Services Group Head Yasir Ashfaq presented an overview of the microfinance sector and the catalytic role of PPAF, which focuses strengthening of inclusive institutions of the poor.
Shahid Hanif won the ‘Best National Micro Entrepreneur Male’ award while Bache Singh was runner-up. Qurban Bibi won the ‘Best National Micro Entrepreneur Female’ award while Rasheeda Bibi was the runner-up. Awards were also given to ‘Best Regional Micro Entrepreneurs’ from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh, AJK, Punjab and one for federal and Gilgit-Baltistan, with one runner-up in each category. Special awards in four categories for innovative business, young entrepreneur, overcoming adversity and for having a positive impact on community were also given. Recognition awards were given to the respective loan officers in each category.
Specific goals of Citi-PPAF Micro Entrepreneurship Awards programme are to raise awareness about microfinance, particularly among micro entrepreneurs who could benefit from it, to recognise and celebrate the contributions that micro entrepreneurs bring to the world economy and to highlight best practices in micro entrepreneurship.
Since 2005, awards are being organised with the collaboration of PPAF in Pakistan. The CMA programmes are being held in 18 countries around the world. Citi, the leading global financial services company, has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services.
Over a decade as a unique institution of its kind globally, PPAF has worked with a range of institutions for the poor like partner organisations, with a diversity of experience and sets of expertise. This provides a sound and appropriate ground for mutual learning, drawing on success and best practices. As the lead institution for grassroots development in the country, PPAF works through civil society partner organisations to focus on disadvantaged and marginalised across Pakistan. Besides, microfinance, PPAF is performing unparalleled services for provision of health, education, water, energy, infrastructure, skill development, environment and livelihood facilities in the nook and corner of the country.