Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan will get more support from the UK, following a new agreement signed today with Karandaaz Pakistan.
The Director General for Economic Development in the Department for International Development (DFID), Rachel Turner attended the signing in Islamabad of an agreement between Karandaaz and Bank Alfalah Ltd.
Under the agreement, Karandaaz Pakistan will provide a fixed grant of over PKR 63 million to Bank Alfalah Limited for Supply Chain Financing Advisory Services. This support will build the capacity of the bank to provide credit to small and medium enterprises using cutting edge financial products through especially trained teams.
Separate agreements were also signed between Karandaaz and three business incubators – the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management, and Invest2Innovate (Pvt.) Ltd – to launch a country-wide programme for supporting women entrepreneurship with a grant of PKR 25 million. Under this programme, women owned and operated businesses enrolled in the programme will be provided training and mentorship. Up to six competitively selected businesses will be provided funding of PKR 15 million each for expanding their business.
Speaking at the occasion, DFID Director General for Economic Development, Rachel Turner emphasized the importance of the SME sector as an engine of growth for a developing economy. She said:
“SMEs, especially women-owned businesses, can be a driving force for the sustainable growth of an economy. United Kingdom is proud to have invested in this vital sector in Pakistan and we are confident that this investment will have long-term dividends for Pakistan’s economy.”
CEO Karandaaz, Ali Sarfraz explained, “Karandaaz is committed to breaking barriers for small and medium entrepreneurs. The partnerships that we have forged today show the large spectrum of strategic interventions that we are making so that SMEs can build their capacities to expand and sustain their operations and also access finance for business development”.
Head of Retails Bank Alfalah Limited, Khurram Hussain acknowledged the assistance from the DFID. He said, “This partnership is significant, not just to us as a bank but for the entire SME sector. Bank Alfalah has been declared Pakistan’s ‘Best Bank’ and ‘Best Customer Franchise’, and this alliance is further evidence of our commitment to our customers and to the development of the sector as a whole.”