U.S. Launches Access to Credit Initiative for Small and Medium Sized Businesses in Pakistan

As part of the third U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, the United States government launched the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit program. Donald Larry Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) inaugurated the program, which will provide credit to qualified micro, small and medium-sized Pakistani businesses.

The program partners USAID with four Pakistani banks: Bank Alfalah Limited, JS Bank Limited, Khushhalibank Limited, and First MicroFinanceBank Limited who will provide loan capital to underserved businesses to help them expand, create jobs and increase revenues.

“Small businesses face challenges to growth, not just here in Pakistan, but in the United States as well. One of the key challenges to small businesses everywhere is access to credit. Businesses require capital to grow and expand, but far too often, loans are difficult to come by, particularly for smaller businesses,” said Mr. Sampler, who is visiting Pakistan for the conference. He also said that the bank partnership is part of a larger umbrella of U.S. support to provide direct assistance to small and medium businesses to help them grow and expand into new markets.

Of the approximately 3.2 million businesses in Pakistan, nearly 3 million are small and medium sized. These small and medium size businesses produce more than 30 percent of Pakistan’s GDP and 25 percent of the nation’s total export earnings. The sector could contribute even more growth, but is constrained principally by a lack of access to credit. Pakistani banks perceiving the sector as too risky are reluctant to lend to small and medium size businesses. To change this perception and demonstrate the financial viability of lending to this sector, USAID through the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit program has partnered with the local banks to provide up to $60 million in loan capital to micro, small and medium businesses.

The United States has a long track record of supporting small and medium enterprises in Pakistan. In the last three years, USAID programs have helped create 23,000 jobs and provided business development services to more than 85,000 micro, small and medium enterprises in Pakistan.

For more information on USAID economic growth programs in Pakistan, please visit: http://www.usaid.gov/pakistan/economic-growth-agriculture.