Revolutionizing microfinance

In Pakistan, microfinance sector is one of the most vigorous sectors in terms of growth. It’s growing at a rate of almost 32% annually. There are more than 50 microfinance banks as well as/beside institutes are functioning in the country while the total outstanding loans of the sector are approximately Rs. 60 billion whereas the total number of borrowers are around 3 million.

If we compare financial market of Pakistan with a developed country like USA, we would see a huge difference in terms of people’s access to the financial services. In Pakistan, only 15% of the total population avails financial services through banks while in USA the figure reaches up to almost 80%.

Is this not a dilemma as out of around 200 million population, only 15% have access to avail financial services through banks? Undeniably there lie several factors behind this sticky situation of the sector but the most considerable one is obvious poverty. Living on about 65% of the total population of less than $2 a day and around 10 million children who should be, but are not in primary schools.

There are many gaps left by this sector in Pakistan which couldn’t make this as advantageous as it has to be. The sector is still carrying on the old methods of making people borrowers/disbursed. This is the time to change gears and bring innovations in the sector which can revolutionize the sector and can enhance its growth in the country.

I have some suggestions regarding revolutionization of this sector in Pakistan. Initially, considering global patterns of operating an eco-friendly environment should be created. There should be a law which can bound this sector not to use papers unnecessarily in offices. Instead of these papers E-applications/software can be programmed which can save time of both banks/institutes and borrowers but also provide quick delivery service to the borrowers.

In this regard, I want to share an example of an MFI namely Thardeep Microfinance Foundation (TMF) which is working in Sindh for more than 10 years and have more than one hundred thousand borrowers across 12 districts of Sindh provinces.

Amazingly in Tharparkar, TMF has its most borrowers from remote villages and they are generally local women. Recently this foundation has kicked off/launched a quick e-system of disbursement which has not only created an easiness for borrowers but also for the MFI itself.

In the gap of just 1 to 2 days, a borrower living in the most remote region of the Sindh could easily be disbursed through this mechanism. It’s purely paperless method of working.

Workers/Fielders of this MFI goes to villages on daily basis and fill forms of local people in tablets then they send those filled forms to their management via internet and sometimes on the very same day or next day the borrowers get disbursed.

Recently TMF has won PPAF’s award for being the most innovative MFI of the country because this is the only micro-financing institute which is practicing this kind of latest technology for the core purpose to provide a wide range of high quality and rapid financial services to the undeserved, reaching low-income people, micro-entrepreneurs and small enterprises across 12 districts especially in district Tharparkar.

Such stride of TMF must be appreciated wholeheartedly by both the government entities as well other MFBs/MFIs. Moreover, this effort should be an epitome for the entire microfinance sector of the country. I request the owners of all MFBs and MFIs to launch latest technology techniques for the prompt disbursement so that people can take maximum benefits.

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