By Team BitBol,
Two-day Microfinance Conference on Innovation and Growth, held n Islamabad. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Investment, Dr. Miftah Ismail inaugurated the Conference with leaders of the sector in attendance. Mr. Ismail iterated the importance of microfinance industry in poverty alleviation agenda. He mentioned that although government is vying to curb poverty through safety net stipend schemes like Benazir Income Support Programme, it is through giving people means to earn their own income that we can make a real progress out of poverty possible.
The conference is jointly hosted by Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company (PMIC) and Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN) and.
Dr. Rashid Bajwa, CEO NRSP gave an overview of the microfinance industry in Pakistan that today the sector stands at 5.2 million active borrowers which is a tremendous progress considering the tumultuous journey that had ensued. He mentioned that establishment of PPAF and SBP’s guarantee scheme were the two major events, which propelled the sector onto the growth trajectory and now with PMIC, the advancements technology, the sector is geared for the next phase of growth and achieve targets of reaching out to 10 million clients by 2020.
Mr. Zubyr Soomro, Chairperson PMIC, said that although funding appetite of the sector is being addressed through institutions like PMIC, there is still a long way to go. He mentioned that one of the frontiers that the stakeholders now need to turn their attention towards is product diversification and value addition. Mr. Nadeem Hussain, Chairperson PMN stated that despite good progress, microfinance industry need to tap into the innovative solutions brought forth by technological advancements.
Mr. Imran Inayat Butt, Executive Director at SECP, acknowledged and thanked the hosts for conducting the event, as it gives an opportunity to the regulators to hear from stakeholders and hold a conducive dialogue around pressing issues facing the sector.
Mr. Yasir Ashfaq, CEO Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company, while leading the session on PMIC’s role in the MF sector shared how it is creating synergies with partner organizations and facilitating MFPs with not only to access to wholesale funds but also has initiated pilots for creating a cohesive eco-system and has extended technical assistance for microfinance plus services. Beneficiaries of various MFIs presented their experience and highlighted their success stories of how microfinance has transformed their lives and also suggested areas where microfinance sector needs to focus on going forward.
While addressing the gathering during the session on Microfinance Plus, Mr. Ghalib Nishtar stated that the industry needs to embed microfinance plus services as one of the pillars in its business development strategy. He further added, the practitioners need to be supportive with people at the bottom of the pyramid through product innovation and also be sensitive to their requirements and remain ethical of their business practices. Mr. Saqib Siddiqui, Head of Sector Development at PMIC provided the audience with an overview on PMIC’s focus on development and implementation of need based and innovative microfinance plus initiatives.
The conference presents a unique opportunity for policy makers, microfinance professionals, trainers, practitioners, donors, regulators and other members to engage in a dialogue and showcase a wide variety of success stories, explore recent innovations, and connect with the institutions that are involved in the digitization of microfinance in developing countries.