ADB approves over $155 million boost for women-led businesses in Pakistan

Asian development bank

WEB DESK: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a financial package of $155.5 million to bolster policy reforms aimed at improving access to finance for women in Pakistan and facilitating credit for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises led by women.

The funding includes a $100 million policy-based loan to facilitate improved access to finance for women and a $50 million financial intermediation loan to empower participating financial institutions to lend specifically to women entrepreneurs.

A $5.5 million grant was allocated to finance related activities. Yevgeniy Zhukov, ADB Director General for Central and West Asia, stressed the critical role of inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development.

He stated that achieving these goals depends on providing women with equal economic opportunities and benefits.

Zhukov highlighted the transformative impact of ADB’s programme, envisioning a revamped financing ecosystem in Pakistan that empowers women to secure crucial financial resources, ultimately contributing significantly to economic growth.

Currently, female labour force participation in Pakistan stands at approximately 23 per cent, with one of the world’s lowest rates of women’s entrepreneurship at just 4 per cent of working-age adults.

Despite improvements in financial inclusion in Pakistan, women face a substantial gender finance gap, currently standing at 34 per cent.

Andrew McCartney, ADB Senior Financial Sector Economist, emphasised the need for policies that recognise and support women entrepreneurs.

McCartney highlighted the significance of creating an enabling environment that encourages formal business registration and growth for women-owned enterprises, often overlooked due to their small, informal nature.

The policy-based loan aims to bolster reforms aligning with women’s needs in national policies, including the implementation of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Banking on Equality Policy, which mandates banks to establish dedicated departments providing services tailored to women.

Furthermore, the loan supports measures aimed at enhancing women’s access to credit through digital channels, delivering financial training and advisory services, and improving working conditions for women in the finance sector.

Simultaneously, the financial intermediation loan is anticipated to benefit approximately 2 million women entrepreneurs, including 510,000 who lacked previous access to finance.

This will be achieved through lending, facilitated by participating financial institutions.

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