By Abdul Rafay Siddiqi
KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) hosted a virtual roundtable meeting on 23rd April 2020 to discuss the issues and challenges facing the Non-Bank Microfinance Institutions (NBMFIs) and their customers as a consequence of the economic slowdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The roundtable was attended by the CEOs of Pakistan’s largest NBMFIs including the National Rural Support Program, Kashf Foundation, Damen Support Program, SAFCO Support Program, Thardeep Foundation, Rural Community Development Program and Agahi. The consultation was presided and initiated on the leadership of Mr. Arif Usmani, President NBP and included Mr. Zubyr Soomro (Chairman, NBP) and Ms. Sadaffe Abid (Director, NBP and Chair of Inclusive Development Committee NBP).
Furthermore, key sector players such as the CEOs of Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN) and the Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company (PMIC) were also invited to examine the state of the microfinance industry and explore opportunities to develop a sector wide approach.
The purpose of the roundtable was to assess the nature, size and scale of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the microfinance clients’ income and wellbeing. The microfinance sector reaches over 7 million borrowers across the country, 50% of whom are women. Mr. Zubyr Soomro, Chairman NBP in his opening remarks urged the microfinance players to take a long-term approach, strengthen their lending standards, systems and manage resources efficiently.
The NBP leadership highlighted its inclusive development mandate and commitment to serve the nation through playing a leadership role in forging strategic alliances to help key institutions to manage their way through these times and increase their efforts to address poverty in the country.