Empowering women in Pakistan: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved financing worth $155.5 million for supporting policy reforms leading to enhanced women’s access to finance. Moreover, providing credit to women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

It also stated that the financing consists of a $5.5 million grant to support related activities. A $50 million financial intermediation loan to enable participating financial institutions to lend to women entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, a $100 million policy-based loan to improve women’s access to capital.

“Inclusive, resilient and sustainable development cannot be achieved if women do not have equal economic opportunities and benefits,” said ADB Director General for Central and West Asia Yevgeniy Zhukov.

He further elaborated “ADB’s new program will help transform Pakistan’s current financing ecosystem to help women access much-needed finance and empower them to boost their livelihoods while contributing significantly to the economy,”

SOME STATS 

FEMALE LABOUR: Pakistan’s current rate of female labour force participation is roughly 23%. 4% of working-age women in the nation are also among the fewest female entrepreneurs in the world.

The gender finance gap, which currently stands at 34%, has left women behind although financial inclusion in Pakistan has been improving.

ADB SENIOR FINANCIAL SECTOR ECONOMIST ANDREW MCCARTNEY

“There are many women entrepreneurs in Pakistan, but they remain unrecognized, being small and informal in nature and lacking the incentives to register their businesses formally or to grow,” said ADB Senior Financial Sector Economist Andrew McCartney.

“Policies must recognize the importance of women’s entrepreneurship and create an enabling environment that increases women’s participation in the formal economy and gives them more opportunities to grow their businesses.” 

POLICY-BASED LOANS

Policy-based loans facilitate the integration of women’s needs into national policies. One such policy is the Banking on Equality Policy of the State Bank of Pakistan, which mandates, among other things, that banks set up departments specifically for serving women.

Supporting policies that improve working conditions for women in the finance industry, give women access to financial education and advisory services, and give them digital channels via which to pursue credit and credit alternatives.

Meanwhile, it is anticipated that the financial intermediation loan, which will be provided through participating financial institutions, will help about 2 million women entrepreneurs, including 510,000 of them who previously had no access to capital.

THE GRANT BY ADB

Activities such as creating financial literacy programmes and a digital platform that connects women to financial services will be made possible by the grant from the Asian Development Fund (ADF).

The ADF gives grants to the developing nations that make up the ADB that are the poorest and most vulnerable.

Pakistan was one of the ADB’s original members. ADB has committed more than $52 billion in loans, grants, and other forms of financing to the public and private sectors since 1966 in order to support inclusive economic growth in Pakistan and enhance the nation’s transport networks, social services, infrastructure, and energy and food security.

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