WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman has asked American business leaders to invest in microfinance and other promising areas to create economic opportunities for the people of Pakistan and help highlight the country’s potential as a pivot of regional growth.
She was addressing Pakistani and international microfinance experts, investors, donors and academics at a conference on “Pakistan – The Dark Horse of Microfinance”.
“Pakistan offers to you the promise of land, geography and people, all combined. Perhaps, it is for this potential that the US-Pakistan Business Council describes Pakistan as a giant you haven’t considered for investment,” she said.
The ambassador pointed out that the US had launched the multi-year Pakistan Private Investment Initiative to attract both Pakistani and international investment management companies to facilitate access for small and medium businesses.
“Thanks to their resilience and innovative cooperation, the share of small and medium enterprises has gone up in our GDP growth. The two countries are also making progress towards concluding a bilateral investment treaty.”
She also drew the attention of the gathering to Pakistan’s liberal and attractive investment policies with no restrictions on holding equity for foreign companies and opening of almost all sectors to foreign investment.
Being located at the heart of regions, she said Pakistan offered significant advantages in trade and commerce.
Over the last four years, she said new players like mobile network operators, commercial banks and international funds started investing in institutions focused on the bottom of pyramid markets and stimulated growth.
Moreover, the Benazir Income Support Programme for the poorest has brought almost four million people in the formal banking sector in the past four years, extending the coverage of the country’s financial institutions in general and microfinance sector in particular.
“We all know that the social value of microfinance is related to improving the lives of poor and widening opportunities for communities by broadening and deepening outreach of financial services.”
“I urge you policymakers and industry practitioners to come together and make microfinance available across the depth and breadth of Pakistani society.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2012.