IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, conducted housing microfinance training in April at Khushhali Microfinance Bank, Pakistan’s leading microfinance bank. The objective was to enhance the capacity of thebank’s loan officers on a new micro-housing product recently launched by the Bank. The training comes as part of a wider IFC/Khushali advisory partnership which commenced in April 2016, under which IFC is helping to develop a housing microfinance product targeting underserved communities of Pakistan. This product was developed following a housing finance survey conducted to assess specific demand and client segmentation. In the first phase of this collaboration with IFC, the bank will provide financing for home improvements, and there are plans in a subsequent phase to modify the product to address the need for financing home purchase.
A UN report states that housing remains a dire need in Pakistan where an estimated 20 million people are homeless. This situation has been compounded over the years through the occurrence of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. With a footprint of 163 sites all over Pakistan, over 600,000 borrowers and 1.4 million savers, Khushhali is well poised to venture into housing microfinance to address the needs of both the salaried and entrepreneurial class. Ghalib Nishtar, President of Khushhali Microfinance Bank, recently said, “We have endeavored to provide tailored financial solutions to our microfinance clients by choosing the right asset and liability offerings. Our mission is to support people in graduating out of the poverty cycle and have been a market leader, offering both group loans as well as individual enterprise loans. Housing finance has long been a critical need, especially among the underserved and the Bank hopes to address this through the right mechanism which IFC is supporting us in developing”.
According to Mohammed Khaled, IFC’s Regional Microfinance Specialist, “Shelter is not only a basic human need that ensures the wellbeing of people, it is also a personal and productive asset that appreciates over time, helping low income households generate income. The market is vast as the majority in Pakistan either needs a house or needs to improve existing abode”. Pakistan is a priority country for the World Bank Group, given its universal financial access goals. Over the past three years, IFC has ramped up its investment and advisory work in Pakistan accordingly, to help develop the private sector and enhance access to finance to MSMEs through financial intermediaries.