Mobilink Microfinance Bank Limited, VEON’s financial services arm and the largest digital bank in Pakistan, launched three major microfinance initiatives as part of its continuing efforts to financially empower women entrepreneurs and to support small and medium-sized farmers in the country. The initiatives were formally launched by VEON Group CEO, Kaan Terzioglu, during his recent visit to Pakistan.
As part of the first initiative, Mobilink Microfinance Bank (MMBL) has launched low-cost 4G handsets for customers, especially female entrepreneurs, aimed at driving participation in the digital economy among marginalized groups within the population. The substantially discounted Digit 4G handsets will be available across Mobilink Microfinance Bank’s vast branch network and will come pre-loaded with the bank’s digital banking application, MMBL DOST, that will enable customers to obtain quick financial assistance, pay bills, make money transfers and use a vast array of digital banking services. Going forward, Mobilink Microfinance Bank will be offering these subsidized 4G handsets as part of its loan portfolio.
Under the second initiative, Mobilink Microfinance Bank has collaborated with Daraz, Pakistan’s largest e-commerce platform, to help incentivise and upskill female entrepreneurs with brick-and-mortar stores to go digital and expand their customer outreach across the country. Under the partnership, female customers will be charged 0% commission for the first three months of their onboarding, giving them ample time to set up their businesses on the digital platform. Moreover, female sellers using Daraz will be able to open accounts digitally and apply for Mobilink Microfinance Bank loans at concessional rates.
Although females comprise almost half of the country’s population, their financial inclusion figure stands at 7%. With a growing 3G/4G subscriber base in the country that currently represents 53% of the total 195 million cellular subscribers, Mobilink Microfinance Bank, under its flagship Women Inspirational Network (WIN) programme, aims to support an enabling digital financial ecosystem for empowering women, an underserved, yet influential segment of the country through such initiatives.
“As a digital operator, VEON is focused on providing high-quality connectivity while building a digital services ecosystem to meet customers’ needs and transform their lives. These initiatives will accelerate financial inclusion in Pakistan, drive economic growth, and play an important role in the digitalisation of the local microfinance industry,” states Kaan Terzioglu, VEON Group CEO at the launch.
The third initiative sees Mobilink Microfinance Bank provide digital agriculture advisory services for farmers, delivered through a partnership with Pakistan’s leading AgriTech company BaKhabar Kissan. Along with financial assistance from the bank, farmers will also have access to personalized instructions for planting profitable crops, monitoring weather and land conditions, tips for effective livestock management, and tracking key agriculture and environment-related indicators to boost income and agricultural produce. Agriculture represents 22.7% of Pakistan’s GDP and employs around 37.4% of the workforce. The recent floods in the country have destroyed 3.6 million acres of crops and caused a loss of 700,000 livestock. Long-term support for this sector is therefore vital in helping Pakistan’s economic recovery.
Adding his views on these developments, Ghazanfar Azzam, President & CEO of Mobilink Microfinance Bank said: “For over 10 years, Mobilink Microfinance Bank has been playing a game-changing role in empowering marginalized and underserved communities in Pakistan. Through these initiatives, we are aiming to build a digital infrastructure that will help further the economic upliftment and financial empowerment of women business owners and small and medium-sized farmers in the country, two segments that have the potential to transform Pakistan’s economic future”
VEON Group CEO previously met senior representatives of the government including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Minister for IT and Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haque, and Minister for Finance, Miftah Ismail.