State Bank Awareness Session, Date: 22nd June 2018

An awareness session for women entrepreneurs was held with the collaboration of the State Bank of Pakistan and Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 22nd June 2018 at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Capital House.
The session began as scheduled in late afternoon with approximately 50 officials and entrepreneurs in attendance. Both the President and the Chairman of FPCCI gave opening remarks. They lauded the efforts of the IWCCI in mobilizing female entrepreneurs and pledged the support of FPCCI for any future ventures. They also recognized the role that women can and are playing in the advancement of the Pakistani economy appreciated the efforts of such women. After a short welcoming address by IWCCI President Ms Reem Abassi, the session officially began.
Representatives of the State Bank of Pakistan conducted the session. The significance of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the current economy was elaborated upon and it was announced that the State Bank was targeting a substantial increase from the current 8% to 17% in the SME financing as part of its Policy 2020 plan. The issues regarding SME financing which range from a lack of awareness and unnecessary formalities in the loan process to SMEs being considered a risk area by banking officials were highlighted. This was followed by an introduction to the State Bank’s updated policy for SME banking which included incentives such as tax holidays, simplified and standardized loan forms and reductions on sales tax. The representative of the State Bank also announced the setting of gender based targets starting next year and policy geared towards the upscaling of micro finance banks and non-financial advising for SMEs. An overview of current government financing schemes offered to SMEs was given which also included information on the purpose, eligibility, tenure and rate of refinance of each scheme. The State Bank of Pakistan reiterated its commitment to providing entrepreneurs a platform to voice their concerns and ensuring better communication between banks, entrepreneurs and the government. The SME toolkit launched by Bank Alfalah and IFC (International Finance Corporation) was presented as an example of the facilities offered to entrepreneurs where case studies and market research is available through an online portal ( as non-financial advising by the bank for SMEs. A representative from the bank itself also outlined the guidelines to be followed by the entrepreneurs in their day to day dealings specifically with regards to their banking needs.
The event was concluded with a Q&A session between the panel of entrepreneurs, State Bank representatives and bank officials where the concerns of the entrepreneurs were addressed. The entrepreneurs mentioned the struggles they have faced in the process of acquiring financing. Officials from the Bank of Khyber, UBL, Meezan, Alfalah, SME bank and Habib Bank Limited were present and reassured that these complaints would be relayed to their respective higher ups and that they would make greater efforts to include SME financing in their corporate agendas.