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Advancing Microfinance for Post-Disaster Economic Reconstruction

Innovations in microfinance in response to emergency needs in Pakistan


YEARS

2006-2009

CLIENT DESCRIPTION

USAID is a United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. Enclude partnered with Pakistan's National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), and the Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN) to implement the project which was known as "AMPER."

CLIENT'S OBJECTIVE

Revive services and increase access to financial services for the poor and very poor in the earthquake-affected regions of Kashmir.

Results

BUSINESS RESULTS

More than 26,000 reconstruction microfinance loans were disbursed, including 12,000 loans to female entrepreneurs and heads of households; 26,000 health and life insurance policies were underwritten, and 76,000 new savings accounts mobilised.

NRSP enhanced its business and operational efficiencies, enabling it to successfully transform from a microfinance organisation to one of Pakistan’s most successful microfinance banks, serving over 500,000 rural clients.

Successfully piloted new loan products, including maternity health loans, village health-worker loans, housing microfinance loans, and shari’ah-compliant microenterprise financing.

SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL OUTCOMES:

Earthquake victims quickly regained access to basic microfinance services, and later benefited from financial services designed to meet their unique needs.

Low-tech, low-cost energy-efficiency techniques were introduced and piloted in reconstruction financing for low-income housing.

Access and recognition for female-headed households and enterprises was strengthened through improved access to financial and associated support services.

Activities

Assisted NSRP in re-establishing its operations in Azzad Jammu and Kashmir, improving access to 21,000 potential borrowers.

Conducted comprehensive market assessments for innovative and alternative microfinance services, including quantifying the need for greater remittance inflows, savings/deposit, insurance and guarantee funds. The assessment covered 1,500 households in all seven administrative districts.

Designed and implemented new microfinance services to meet the identified needs, including maternity and health loans, as well as housing reconstruction loans with an energy-efficiency component.

Initiated internal strategy process that resulted in an internal definition of microfinance as distinct from humanitarian and other economic development operations.

Developed initial roadmap for institutional spin-off and transformation of NRSP’s microfinance operations into a regulated microfinance bank.

LEARNINGS

Prior to this program, the premise in Pakistan’s disaster-affected areas was that recipients were unable to pay or receive anything other than grants and subsidies. In contrast, the AMPER program demonstrated the recipients’ resilience, desire to define their own priorities and be treated as clients rather than beneficiaries. As new products were designed, it was essential to separate sustainable microfinance loans from other economic and social support initiatives. Staffing the project was a challenge as we competed with better-funded international organisations for staff, and as we learned the importance of fielding all-female teams to engage female-headed households and women entrepreneurs, especially in designing and deploying maternity health and village health-worker enterprise loans.


Pakistan