LAHORE: Unilever Pakistan has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) for providing entrepreneurial support using the microfinance model for underprivileged people.
Unilever Chairman and CEO Ehsan Malik and NRSP CEO Dr Rashid Bajwa signed the MoU at Unilever’s office on Tuesday. Through this partnership, they aim to establish a sustainable business model that will utilise mutual expertise to provide economic opportunities through self-employment.
The scope of the project includes a grant for enterprising but underprivileged individuals, identified by NRSP, to help them set up shops. The working capital required for maintaining minimum level of stock at the shops will be provided through microfinance loans.
The selected candidates will also benefit from entrepreneurial training, covering fund management, basic sale techniques and record-keeping. In the pilot phase, 50 entrepreneurs will benefit from this initiative.
At the MoU signing ceremony, Unilever CEO Malik reiterated the company’s commitment to improving livelihood for the marginalised and underprivileged sections of society in a sustainable manner.
“Through our partnership with NRSP, we plan to facilitate entrepreneurship in Pakistan. Making sustainable living commonplace is at the heart of our business model and the use of microfinance makes this model scalable in the future as well,” he added.
NRSP CEO Bajwa said their aim was to harness people’s potential to promote entrepreneurship. “Skill development is the key to ensuring that the rural entrepreneur is able to make the most of this opportunity. We feel that a microfinance solution and guidance on how to run the business will empower the shop owners to improve their standard of living while becoming contributing members of the economy.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2012.