IFC, HBL partner to expand lending to small businesses in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is helping improve access to finance and support the growth of small businesses in Pakistan through an agreement with Habib Bank Limited (HBL)to expand the bank’s small business lending programs.According to a statement of the IFC issued here on Thursday, IFC and Habib Bank will initially target the Lahore region-home to 45 percent of the country’s small and medium businesses-where IFC will help Habib Bank design and roll out financial services and banking products aimed at small businesses.These products and services will then be launched country-wide throughHabib Bank’s extensive branch network.“This mandate will not only help Habib Bank better serve the small andmedium-sized business sector in Pakistan, but will also improve our procedures and develop the capacity of Habib Bank to support this market segment as it continues to grow,” said Mubashar Maqbool, Head of Habib Bank’s Commercial & Retail Lending Department.Kaiser Nasseem, Head of IFC’s Bank Advisory Services in the Middle East and North Africa region, said, “Through this project with Habib Bank, IFC is helping expand small businesses’ access to finance and supporting sustainable economic growth in Pakistan.The small business sector is a driver of job creation and economic growth, and supporting it is an important part of IFC’s work.”

Many banks regard lending to small and medium businesses as risky and lack the tools and techniques to efficiently serve them.By helping improve Habib Bank’s ability to offer financing to thesebusinesses, IFC’s participation will demonstrate the benefits of lending to this market segment to other banks in Pakistan.With over 1,450 domestic branches, Habib Bank has the strongest retailbanking network in the country.This network, coupled with Habib Bank’s long experience serving the small and medium enterprises will enable Habib Bank to develop and deliver the new products.Pakistan is a priority country for IFC. For the past three years, IFC’s investments and advisory services work have increased in Pakistan to promote private sector growth.

IFC’s strategy in Pakistan for fiscal years 2009 to 2011 focuses onmobilizing investments in power and infrastructure, and providing access tofinance to micro, small and medium enterprises through financial intermediaries.IFC is a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries.It creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives and does so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. – Brecorder