The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has asked commercial banks to set a target of 1000 account holders in every city to promote SME financing through an awareness drive.
The decision was taken in line with the “Policy for Promotion of SME Finance”, which was launched by the ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on December 22, 2017, at SBP’s Head Office in Karachi.
It has been observed that there is still a complete lack of awareness among bankers as well as SMEs about SBP’s SME policy and related refinance schemes. Therefore, in order to improve the awareness of other refinancing schemes for small and medium enterprises, banks have been advised to undertake concrete measures in this regard.
Besides SBP’s efforts to create awareness in different cities, banks have been told to prepare an action plan for an awareness campaign for the next 3 months (July-Sept, 2018) in order to achieve better results. Each bank will be required to target around 1000 account holders per city where SBP has its presence.
Only those account holders should be targeted who have their business in the form of sole proprietorship/ partnership/private limited company but may or may not be availing any financing facility from their respective bank(s).
The targeted number of SMEs may vary according to the population and size of the city. Banks may also advise their customers/SMEs about their specific products. In this regard, area managers of each bank are required to keep a record of contact details (name, occupation, address, mobile number) of the targeted SMEs. These contact details will be provided to the respective SBP BSC on a monthly basis (as per attached format).
At the same time, SBP will use print, electronic and social media for creating awareness about refinancing solutions for SMEs, and banks have been advised to do the same.
Each bank is required to publish one advertisement per quarter highlighting salient features of the SME finance policy, SBP refinance schemes and details of their specific SME products. Banks will submit their schedule with an action plan to the concerned department of SBP within 20 working days after the issuance of the central bank’s circular letter. Accordingly, a calendar for all banks will be developed by SBP.
Banks should highlight features of the SME policy and SBP refinance schemes by effectively utilizing radio and cable TV. Banks can also use social media for this purpose.
In terms of one important pillar of the policy i.e. ‘Capacity Building and Awareness Creation’, NIBAF and SBP BSC were envisaged to undertake 100 training programs per year and 150 awareness creation sessions per year, respectively.