Home Business & Finance Bank of Punjab, CARE Pakistan and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth unite forces to improve financial access for women entrepreneurs in Pakistan

Bank of Punjab, CARE Pakistan and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth unite forces to improve financial access for women entrepreneurs in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Mastercard Strive Women program in Pakistan welcomes a new partnership with the Bank of Punjab (BOP), jointly aiming to improve formal financial access for women-led micro and small entrepreneurs in Pakistan.

Strive Women, supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and implemented by CARE, bolsters women entrepreneurs in Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam, and aims to strengthen their financial health and resilience. Strive Women in Pakistan pledges to support 100,000 entrepreneurs, of which at least 70% will be women.

The majority (79%) of Pakistan’s population operates outside of the formal banking system, while 82% of women remain unbanked. The situation poses a serious challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which hold crucial importance for the country’s economy due to their role in job creation, innovation, and regional development.

BOP, in collaboration with CARE Pakistan and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, will support this segment through its range of financial services and products. In line with its commitment to promoting gender equality, BOP has launched a suite of financial products tailored to women under the name BOP NAAZ.

BOP has been a frontliner when it comes to women’s empowerment through its structured financial services. To further support and encourage women entrepreneurs, the partners seek to expand their financial inclusion agenda to as many women micro entrepreneurs as possible. The partnership will focus on two of Strive Women’s four core pillars of work – supporting women-led small businesses to grow through increasing access and usage of financial products and working with financial service providers to co-design tailored products that best serve women-led small businesses.

“Strive Women builds on the success of the Ignite financial inclusion program for small businesses in Pakistan. When this initiative was launched last year, the aim was to go deeper by building a broader ecosystem of stakeholders committed to long-term support for women-led small businesses. In this context, we are delighted to welcome BOP as a trusted partner for women’s empowerment. I am confident that together, Mastercard and its partners can make Strive Women bigger and better than anything we have done in this space in Pakistan before,” said Arslan Khan, Country Manager, Pakistan, Mastercard.

“We are very excited to join hands with Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Care Pakistan to empower thousands of women across the country by providing them with the right tools and opportunities for their inclusion in financial sector and economic growth. This partnership will also promote digital inclusion for women and enable an ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. When women in developing countries like Pakistan are empowered and financially included, it creates a ripple effect of positive change across society and the economy. On the economic front, access to financial tools such as microloans allows women to become entrepreneurs and drive sustainable growth by creating jobs and participating more in the workforce.

BOP, in line with its vision to promote financial inclusion and Banking on Equality, will continue to support such key initiatives.” said Nofel Daud, Chief Digital Officer, Bank of Punjab.

“We are thrilled to sign a memorandum of understanding with The Bank of Punjab to improve the financial health of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. The Strive Women program underscores our commitment to fostering a robust ecosystem that nurtures the growth of women-led businesses. Women entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in driving economic progress, and by collectively addressing the barriers they face, we can unleash their full potential for exponential impact on our economy. As we sign this MOU, we in collaboration with BOP and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, reaffirm our dedication to creating pathways for women to thrive in the business landscape. Together with our partners, we aspire to cultivate an environment where women entrepreneurs can flourish, innovate, and contribute meaningfully to our society,” said Adil Sheraz, Country Director, CARE Pakistan.

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