Citi and PPAF Organize 12th Citi-PPAF Microentrepreneurship Award Ceremony

The Citi – PPAF Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA), delivered in partnership by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and Citi Foundation the philanthropic arm of Citibank N.A., Pakistan, announced the national winners of the 12th Citi – PPAF Microentrepreneurship Awards.

The Honourable Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Tariq Bajwa, was the chief guest at the event.

Mr. Tariq Bajwa at Microentrepreneurship Award Ceremony

Naseem Maseeh from Karachi and Sanobar from Hyderabad were the national winners for the 12th CMA.

Naseem is the owner of a stitching center, earns PKR 50,000- 60,000 per month, and has trained more than 5,000 girls in his center. Naseem is physically disabled but he never lost hope and was encouraged by The First Microfinance Bank Ltd. to start his own business.

Naseem’s journey has been inspirational as he started his business with only 2-3 stitching machines and now runs a center with more than 100 machines. He plans to expand his business by opening other stitching centers on a large scale in other areas.

Naseem says,

Disabled people generally have a hard time gaining people’s trust and acceptance. I have suffered a lot but now my life has totally changed after I was given the opportunity by The First Microfinance Bank Ltd.

Based in a small remote community, Sanobar contributes to the local economy. Today, she is the owner of a poultry shop but she started her business from a simple cart selling chickens. She earns more than PKR 5,000 per day and plans to invest more in her business to expand it.

In the beginning, Sanobar was discouraged by her family members but today she supports her family and employs 6 people in her shop.

She says,

I never thought that I could reach this level but this was made possible by the Khushhali Microfinance Bank Ltd. If not for this opportunity, my life would have been very different now.

Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO of PPAF, said:

Since 2005, we have recognised 450 outstanding microentrepreneurs through the Citi-PPAF Microentrepreneurship Awards. These microentrepreneurs are chosen for their exceptional perseverance and hard work. With microcredit, they have changed their own lives and contributed to the development of their communities. The Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards programme is a fantastic way to highlight best practices in microentrepreneurship and to raise awareness about microfinance and its importance for a thriving economy.

Nadeem Lodhi, Citi Country Officer & Managing Director of Citi Pakistan, said:

Like any vibrant industry, microfinance has been evolving in Pakistan going from simple small loans to provision of complex financial products. The enabling environment created by the regulator has provided this traction and the industry has grown by reaching previously unbanked clients, new places, new management structures, and new attitudes. Over the last 12 years, Citi Foundation, along with PPAF, has identified and supported high impact entrepreneurs whose inspiring stories can serve to motivate other people to achieve their dreams. We are proud to share that the awards have gradually expanded to include more categories than previous years to better recognise the diversity across Pakistan and the significance of financial inclusion for the marginalised.

Tariq Bajwa, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan was the chief guest at the event and he applauded the endeavor saying that,

I am honored to be speaking at this forum that has a legacy of recognizing the microentrepreneurs who have transformed their lives and are role models in their communities. The CMAs stands as an excellent example of long-standing and successful public-private collaboration. I would like to congratulate PPAF and the Citi Foundation for their continued support to address the multidimensional issues of poverty in the marginalized segments of the society. The SBP has been working with PPAF to lead the sustainable development of microfinance industry in the country. This is based on a shared vision to promote inclusive growth by creating livelihood opportunities for low income segments thus enabling them to contribute effectively towards socioeconomic development of their households, communities and of course of Pakistan.

To be eligible for the Awards, a business must have benefited from an affordable loan from responsible finance providers and must have contributed to the local economic growth in the community, province or city they operate in.

Other winners include Naimat from Badin in overcoming adversity; Razia Samuel from Lahore in “positive impact on community” and Naseem Bibi from Kot Abdul Malik in “positive impact on community” categories. The Young Entrepreneur Award went to Sania Bibi, who drives a rickshaw to establish a regular livelihood and support her family.