Islamabad (Khyber Mail): The United States Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme, and the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa jointly launched a strategy on improving access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s merged areas. Stakeholders from the banking sector, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) and the KP Chambers of Commerce also participated and exchanged ideas.

“SMEs represent the driving force of global economies, and Pakistan is no exception with 90% of its workforce employed by SMEs, contributing 40% to the national GDP,” said USAID Mission Director Kate Somvongsiri. “We all know how crucial access to credit is. It’s the key for businesses to grow and thrive.”

Neelum Sultana Khattak, Additional Secretary Finance said, “Out-of-the box action-oriented thinking is the need of the day to effectively cope with the challenges. The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has to open itself for greater partnership with the private sector.” He emphasized that the strategy would help the private sector grow through result-focused interventions.

Ms. Van Nguyen, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative highlighted, “ The development of this strategy is a great effort at sub-national level to mainstream financial inclusion for SMEs in greater harmony and synchronized with national level efforts.” She stated that the strategy reflects the greater commitment of the Provincial Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (GoKP) towards a multi-pronged approach for the sustained economic growth.

SMEs need improved access to credit as one of the prerequisites to their growth, whereby historically, only 1.2 percent of national credit has reached KP. Through the newly developed strategy, the public and private sectors will use modern technology to open new ways for small businesses to get access to finance.

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