The First MicroFinanceBank Limited, Pakistan (FMFB-P) is the pioneer in Microfinance with over 17 years of experience in innovation and financial services delivery. The vision of the bank is to enable individuals and contribute to the social and economic well-being of society by providing opportunities to thousands of under-privileged households, especially women. In line with its mission, FMFB-P collaborated with Saeeda Mandviwalla of TONI&GUY Karachi, who has been in the salon industry for over 30 years, to hold a seminar aimed at showing beauty parlour owners and technicians how they can upscale their current businesses.

The aim of the seminar was to facilitate the growth of these salon owners and help them gain success and build sustainable businesses.. After a successful first run at the seminar, which was met which an overhwhelmingly positive response; a structured vocational training scheme is to be formulated and taught by Saeeda Mandviwalla in order to help such women upscale their existing businesses.

Q: So what is The FirstMicroFinance Bank Ltd (FMFB-P), and how did you come into existence?
A: The First MicroFinanceBank Ltd, Pakistan (FMFB-P) was established in 2002 as a nation-wide microfinance bank, licensed by the State Bank of Pakistan. FMFB-P was created through a structured transformation of the credit and savings section of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme’s (AKRSP), an integrated development programme to pioneer the microfinance sector in the country since 1982 in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. FMFB-P is the 3rd largest microfinance bank in Pakistan and has the ambition to become the leading microfinance bank in Pakistan.

Q: What are your main aims at FMFB-P?
A: An estimated 100 million adults, mostly women, are unbanked in Pakistan. Our aim is to provide financial solutions, through our branch network and digital channels, which are accessible, convenient and affordable to all individuals and businesses.
To this end, we have had considerable success. At present, FMFB-P caters to over 1.17 Mn depositors and 465,000 active loan clients. We service a deiverse clientle from the remote valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan to the dense neigbourhoods of Karachi, at their doorstep. 70% of our loan clients are based in Rural Areas and approximately 35% are women. FMFB-P offers a wide-range of loan, deposit and insurance products aimed primarily at low-income clients and entrepreneuers.

Q: How does FMFB-P aim to help the underprivileged?
A: At FMFB-P we are committed to help an increasing number of people enter the formal banking sector. Two of the main issues faced by entrepreneurs at all levels, but especially from financially under served areas, are a lack of access to capital to implement their business ideas and inadequate deposit and savings services to manage their money. Therefore, at FMFB-P we strive to develop financial solutions tailored to the needs of our clients.

Q: Tell us more about your thoughts with regards to women empowerment and where TONI&GUY Karachi specifically fits into that
A: At FMFB-P we are working particularly hard to help women achieve success. Women are severely under represented in our work force, leading to a loss of talent, ideas, and businesses that can uplift families and communities. We strive to achieve a future in which all women, young or old, regardless of race, ethnicity, income level or social status, are empowered to reach their fullest potential.

Q: FMFB-P recently collaborated with Saeeda Mandviwalla of TONI&GUY Karachi for a vocational training seminar; can you tell us more about that?
A: The First MicroFinanceBank Limited, Pakistan (FMFB-P) collaborated with Ms. Saeeda Mandviwalla of TONI&GUY Karachi, to provide vocational training skills, mainly entrepreneurial and leadership skills, to beauty parlour owners and technicians. The aim of this endeavour was to encourage women to improve their livelihoods by facilitating the growth of their businesses. This seminar took place on 23rd October at Beach Luxury Hotel, Karachi.

Q: How did this collaboration come about?
A: When Saeeda Mandviwalla actually went on a trip to Gilgit Baltistan in June earlier this year, she saw the work being done by the Aga Khan Development Network there, and what the women there were capable of doing if given the right facilitation and support. There she had asked if there was anything she could do out of her capacity for women.
In line with its mission of providing access to formal financial services to vulnerable client segments, especially women, this collaborative effort was initiated. The event was designed to demonstrate to the audience, some of the salon best practices that are being adopted by Ms. Mandviwalla in her field. In demonstrating this, the trainees would absorb this knowledge and use it to revamp their own business model to bring it up to par with international standards. Ms. Mandviwalla facilitated this through live demonstrations along with tips entailed in running a salon. As a part of the seminar, The First MicroFinanceBank Limited, Pakistan supported the participants via structured financial solutions to facilitate acquisition of technical capacities and business assets for the upgrading of their beauty parlors.

Q: Where is the collaboration headed?
A: We feel that this collaboration is not to remain merely short-lived. Rather, this arrangement aims to fully facilitate women’s business from start to finish. The formula being followed here is where FMFB-P comes in to provide women with financial support, that would ultimately allow them to access the vocational training courses being offered by Saeeda Mandviwalla. The courses vary from the education of haircare for different hair types & textures, to soft skills, to leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

Q: What does the future hold for FMFB-P?
A: At FMFB-P we are convinced that the only way forward is up. We are confident that we have the strategic plans, the expertise, technology and the talented staff to push ourselves to the top of the microfinance sector. In particular, I feel that our push towards empowering women will not only help us become the leading microfinance bank in Pakistan, but will also bring success, financial stability, and prosperity to families and communities all over Pakistan.

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