KARACHI – The 7th Pakistan Microfinance Country Forum 2013 organized annually by SHAMROCK Conferences International concluded today in Islamabad with experts believing that poverty can be reduced in Pakistan by providing basic necessities of life and in empowering women from the poorest of poor in Pakistan.
The theme of this year’s forum was “Striking a Balance between Poverty Reduction and Access to Finance” and comprised two interactive sessions on ‘Poverty Reduction – An Attainable Goal’ and ‘Access to Finance – Technology at Hand’, including a panel discussion on the theme.
Prof. Dr. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning & Development and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan was the chief guest on the occasion and stressed that poverty was a major and serious challenge to the country. He said, “Poverty in Pakistan in not very deep, it needs meaningful intervention so that it can generate growth that is inclusive; microfinance is not about doling out cash transactions but developing skills that can augment the poorer segments of society.” Inviting the delegates to suggest the way forward in addressing issues of poverty reduction, gender equality, segmentation of poverty levels, focus on youth and social auditing came forth as critical factors.
Ghalib Nishtar, President & CEO, Khushhali Bank Limited, the largest and oldest microfinance bank in the country said even though there was a solid foundation for the microfinance sector in Pakistan, the challenges would be in outreach and impact. Kamran Azim of Kashf Foundation laid emphasis on investing in women as a business case, addressing issues of low-income households. Anwar Rashid of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) stressed for pro-poor policies for real development at the grassroots level. He said “Country is not poor, people are poor”!
Earlier Menin Rodrigues, Chairman of the 7TH Pakistan Microfinance Country Forum 2013 welcomed delegates to the annual meeting by saying that the year’s theme was aptly designed to bring to the fore, both the attainable goal of reducing poverty and at the same time recognizing the power of technology to achieve outreach goals.
Representatives from the regulatory bodies, microfinance banks and financial institutions, experts in the development sector, economists and academia, donor agencies, rural-support organizations and national media attended the conference.
Senior practitioners from Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Khushhali Bank Limited, Waseela Bank Limited, Kashf Foundation, Orangi Town Project, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), IFC-World Bank, UBL Bank, Pakistan Enterprise Development Facility, Punjab Rural Support Program (PRSP), Buksh Foundation, FINCA Microfinance Bank, spoke on the occasion.