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Widening Harmonised Access to Microfinance (WHAM)

From charity to client-focus: shifting Pakistan's microfinance industry's perspective on low-income households


YEARS

2005 - 2008

CLIENT DESCRIPTION

Funded by USAID, the counterpart clients included the Office of the Prime Minister, State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan Microfinance Network, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Tameer Microfinance Bank, Kashf Microfinance and Kashf Microfinance Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Crescent Bank, First Microfinance Bank, Asasa Microfinance, and National Bank of Pakistan.

CLIENT'S OBJECTIVE

Expand financial inclusion for MSMEs, demonstrate the commercial viability of low-income households, and improve policy insight and knowledge about low-income households and MSMEs in Pakistan.

Results

BUSINESS RESULTS

A leading quasi-public commercial bank significantly increased its SME service offerings by establishing a new SME department, growing its branch network from 18 to 70 branches, and expanding from four to ten regions throughout the country, disbursing close to $20 million in loans.

Three microfinance banks expanded their business lines to serve the needs of larger micro- and small enterprises with Enclude’s support.

The microfinance industry association was strengthened to serve as Pakistan’s leading policy organisation focused on financial inclusion.

SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL OUTCOMES:

Achieved a three-fold increase in industry outreach to households, microentrepreneurs, and small enterprises.

At the beginning of the engagement, serving the low-income segment was viewed as merely philanthropic. By project completion, MSME finance was proven as a profitable and sustainable business model.

Strengthened the microfinance industry by working with the Central Bank and industry association to boost coordination in the sector, disseminate credible information, and promote clear national policy.

Influenced local industry dialogue away from “charity for the poor” toward “low-income households as clients,” leading financial institutions to design new products to meet their needs.

Activities

Market analysis, inquiry, policy research and roundtables that demonstrated 1) financing SMEs can be a profitable business and 2) microfinance can be a profitable, sustainable business model.

Designed and assisted in rolling out MSME business units within MFIs, microfinance and commercial banks.

Supported launch of Tameer Microfinance Bank by structuring operations and risk management procedures and training loan officers.

Assisted the Pakistan Microfinance Network in transforming from a training-based organisation for MFIs to a leading policy and research organisation and advocacy partner for public sector partners. Members now include microfinance and commercial banks committed to financial inclusion.

Conducted the first national-level assessment and recommendations with regard to enabling environment and implementing opportunities for branchless and mobile banking.

LEARNINGS

Serving low- and moderate-income segments can be a viable business model, but doing so requires targeted approaches that account for the unique characteristics of this market. Outreach to this segment can be maximised through partnerships with a range of institutions including microfinance institutions and banks, commercial banks, and public policy partners. In working with these partners, keys to success are senior management commitment to MSME finance, investment in human resource capacities, and a regulatory environment that is clear, yet flexible enough to facilitate innovation.


Pakistan