HBL is Leading the Way With Green Initiatives & Financial Inclusion

Habib Bank Limited (HBL) is working to make its mark in green/renewable projects. The renowned Pakistani bank is currently engaged in different eco-friendly projects, performing various active roles of Arrangement and Account Administrators, Advisors as well as Security Trustee and Inter-Creditor Agent. HBL also represented Pakistan at the United Nations in 2019, spearheading the agenda of financial inclusion of women and minorities of Pakistan.

On behalf of various IFIs, HBL looks to undertake these projects as co-lender/ICA along with other known organizations such as the IFC, CDC, ADB, PROPARCO, CDB, IDB, EXIM Bank of China and EXIM Bank of Korea.

Leading The Green Initiative

HBL knows the future is green energy which can reduce climate change and will help the country immensely during its energy crisis. As part of the green initiative, HBL is supervising different power projects with a capacity of 4,400MW and a consolidated and combined value of around USD 12bn in both private and public sectors.

Some of these projects are:

Hydel Power Projects

Hydel Power is short for hydroelectric power. Harnessing hydel energy can be an effective way of reducing poverty. HBL along with WAPDA has undertaken hydel projects with the combined installed capacity of 4,180MW and value of USD 11.5bn.

Laraib Energy

One of the project will have HBL act as Joint Lead Advisor and Arranger. The arranged equivalent of USD 176mn will be sufficient for a 84MW hydro power project. This will be Pakistan’s first hydropower IPP as a Clean Development Mechanism Project which is registered with the UN Framework.

Wind Energy Projects

HBL has also been on the forefront of undertaking wind projects which tap into natural resources and lower Pakistan’s reliance on imported fuel. HBL has undertaken wind projects worth over USD 600mn under various roles and has helped produce over 300MW of energy.

FFC Energy

HBL played the role of Joint Lead Advisor and Arranger for 49.5MW Fauji Wind Power Project which is Pakistan’s first ever wind IPP and arranged equivalent of USD 110mn for the project.

Solar Power and Non-Power Projects

HBL is one of the most active banks to utilize SBP’s renewable energy refinance facility on Solar PV financing as well working on non-power related projects that include Integrated water management system for Gul Ahmed Pakistan.

HBL Contribution in Power Projects

HBL has been awarded the first PBA – Best ESG Bank in 2016.

The organization is dedicated to implementing green/renewable power for Pakistan. HBL is also a signatory to the Green Investment Principles (GIP) established by China Green Finance Committee and the City of London Green Finance Initiative. 27 global institutions have signed up to a set of voluntary principles to promote green investment in the Belt & Road region.

HBL is the only Pakistani bank to become a member of the GIP forum and is acknowledged as one of the largest executors of CPEC projects which is playing an integral role in sustainable investments

Implementation of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) at HBL

Under ESG’s framework, HBL is implementing environmental risk analysis, green business facilitation, own impact reduction, internal energy efficiencies and sustainable practices across its functions:

  • HBL is the leading bank in driving the development and implementation of the ESG framework through its presence on the SBP Consultative Committee.
  • HBL is in close collaboration with Global Operations with a core focus on energy conservation including solar solutions for branches, offices and efficient utilization of resources.
  • HBL continues to promote education, training and capacity building across Corporate, Commercial and Retail business segments.
  • Due diligence is carried out on the ESG framework in line with local and international standards including extensive interactions with multilateral agencies like IFC and CDC-UK.

HBL’s Ongoing Collaborations

HBL has won several awards from prestigious institutions such as EUROMONEY and The Asset, in recognition of its initiatives in undertaking green and renewable projects.

HBL has collaborated with GIZ, Frankfurt Business School and German Solar Association and conducted meetings with its Corporate, Commercial, Retail – SME and Islamic teams to promote the Solar PV sector. Frankfurt Business School is aiming to have a higher impact in this domain by partnering with HBL to substantially scale up the Solar PV market. In this regard, a technical package with analytics tools is being created for HBL.

In February 2019, HBL and CDC UK organized a workshop to promote ESG agenda with HBL’s customers, energy sector regulators and potential power sector investors.

HBL played an important role in helping SECMC Thar Coal develop their ESG plan. The Resettlement Village spreads over 250 acres of land and includes all basic amenities of housing, clean drinking water, education, health as well as vocational training for capacity building of locals for employment in a socially inclusive environment. The gender balance, employment of the female population as truck drivers and Thar Million Tree Project are examples in themselves.

HBL Paves The Way Forward For Financial Inclusion

Financial inclusion is the ability of individuals and businesses to access useful and affordable financial products and services such as transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance.

As the first commercial bank with over 14 million customers, HBL knows that access is the first step towards broader financial inclusion. HBL’s aim is to facilitate in providing financial access to people in day-to-day living, and help families and businesses plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies.

Since majority of the population feels intimidated by banks, HBL is determined to make the unbanked population that includes women, minorities feel valued and be heard while engaging with a bank.

Providing financial inclusion is a core business strategy for HBL and they know the various challenges they face in getting people to engage with banks.

HBL at the United Nations:

HBL proudly represented Pakistan at the United Nations 2019. HBL not only spearheaded the agenda of financial inclusion that emphasized that women and minorities of Pakistan deserve to be heard, valued and respected. HBL took a stand on empowering women to engage with bank for financial issues in more secure and comfortable environment. Not only that, but HBL also registered the Clean Development Mechanism Project under the UN Framework, which will be Pakistan’s first-ever hydropower IPP.

Market Context:

Making up 5-6% of the world’s unbanked population, Pakistan’s social-cultural diversity, lower literacy rates and income disparities, and cost of operations have forced many global banks to leave the market over the past decade.

Pakistan’s major banking channels are mostly in urban centers.

Category Context:

More than half of the unbanked adults in Pakistan have a Mobile phone. Telecom based mobile financial services have enabled people to access basic services but according to the International Telecommunication Union, the gap between ‘access’ and ‘usage’ is still pretty high.

This is mostly due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of how to use technology. HBL knows this is one of the key challenges for financial inclusion, which is why the bank is addressing the issue by imparting relevant knowledge and skills to its staff.

This knowledge will help employees engage customers in a friendlier manner and encourage banking among the unbanked population.

Cultural Context:

HBL is known as a brand for the masses. Pakistani society suffers from wide income disparities, which is why most people think of banking as a privilege for rich people. People feel scared of putting their meager salaries and savings in the hands of a bank.

As for women, it is an issue of access and comfort. Women in Pakistan are mostly discouraged from visiting or working at banks as it is considered a male-dominated profession.

HBL is working to make a more comfortable environment for people of classes and genders by incorporating a friendly staff as well as encouraging women to apply for jobs.

Solution Platform Presented by HBL:

HBL has studied and observed these various challenges for financial inclusion. In order to tackle these issues, HBL launched two platforms for people to feel valued, heard and welcomed when it comes to banking. The two notable platforms are Konnect, which is a branchless banking platform for users, and HBL Nisa, which is designed specifically for women.

Konnect

HBL aims to break down the barriers of standard banking by allowing access and participation to the general public when it comes to financing.

The Konnect app is a way for people to use their banking accounts without having to submit documents (other than CNIC) or go to a bank to fill out long forms. People can perform transactions, money transfer, bill payments and fulfill all their banking requirements through this branchless banking app.

While only 15% of the population has access to formal banking, Pakistan’s mobile penetration has reached 72%. HBL is leading the way for financial inclusion to target the remaining unbanked “smartphone” segment of the population.

Launched in July 2018, Konnect by HBL is one of the most advanced digital payment solutions in the country. It allows people to pay, receive and transfer money from the comfort of their home. HBL aims to ‘disconnect’ consumers with inconvenience and insecurity and ‘Konnect’ to much more convenient, secure and independent banking experiences.

Nisa

Keeping in line with their vision of enabling people of all gender and classes, HBL launched Pakistan’s first-ever banking platform for women with Nisa.

In a country where 49% of the population consists of women and only 3% of them have any formal financial services, HBL understands the need for education and development of services that cater to the needs of women in Pakistan.

HBL Nisa aims at tackling the financial gap for the women segment, so they can engage with banks in a more secure and friendly manner. The platform is designed for women who feel nervous and insecure about visiting banks.

HBL Nisa acknowledges the gaps in providing financial services to this underserved segment and the services cater specifically to the financial needs of women all across Pakistan. As of today, HBL Nisa has more than 2 million account holders, proving its credentials as the preferred banking choice for women all over Pakistan.



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