Waseem Ullah, resident of Pashtun Ghari district Nowshera, was a brilliant student growing up. However, due to financial constraints and to support his aging father, Waseem had to abandon his studies right after 10th grade.

Being the only son & eldest amongst his siblings, Waseem became the sole breadwinner for his family and started working as a labourer, at a meagre wage, in one of the livestock farms in the neighbourhood. Notwithstanding the difficulties of his circumstances, Waseem kept up an entrepreneurial spirit and continued looking for ways to supplement his earnings to better support his family members.

While working on the livestock farm, Waseem gained invaluable experience and knowledge about the business and earned the respect and trust of his employer. In recognition of his hard work, he was allowed to purchase two calves of his own and keep them on the farm. He sold them both later at a high price and earned a profit. This was the spark Waseem needed. He now aspired to have a farm of his own but lacked the initial capital to jumpstart his business idea.

As per World Bank’s Global Findex 2017 – a comprehensive database on financial inclusion statistics across 140 countries, Pakistan has the third largest unbanked population in the world after China and India. A staggering 100 million Pakistani adults lack access to formal financial services.

Waseem’s fortunes turned when in the year 2017, Mobilink Microfinance Bank, Peshawar Branch, reached out to him and explained how availing microfinance services can help turn his dream into a reality. Excited about the prospects, Waseem applied for MMBL’s Livestock Loan and was granted an initial amount of PKR 100,000 for the purchase of livestock and to convert the backyard of his home into an animal shed.

Microfinance banks stand at the crossroads for supporting the cause of financial inclusion in Pakistan. Combined with the outreach made possible by the advent of digital financial technologies, the latent power of microfinance for implementing the financial inclusion agenda is unprecedented.

Using the loan, Waseem quickly set up his own business of rearing and selling livestock. He repaid his first loan on time and applied for the second loan cycle immediately after. Throughout the tenure of his loan, Waseem maintained a healthy, stable relationship with the bank and saw exponential growth in his business.

With every successive loan cycle, Waseem kept on increasing the size of his livestock herd and was able to install a fodder crushing machine on his farm as well. He was also able to multiply his revenue stream by starting a small-scale dairy farm for milk production and sale.

Through his relationship with MMBL, not only was Waseem able to establish a successful business but after becoming economically empowered, he decided to continue his studies; he passed his intermediate examinations as a private candidate and later enrolled himself in a distance learning program offered by Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), leading to graduation. His two younger sisters are also getting their formal education from a local school.

Waseem is currently in the 4th annual consecutive cycle of his loan with MMBL, a testament to the power of microfinance in helping budding entrepreneurs set up sustainable, successful businesses. Financial inclusion enabled Waseem to stand up on his own feet and lead an empowered life, allowing him to make his own decisions and choose a future of his liking.

I am indebted to Mobilink Microfinance Bank for helping me during my bad days and lending support for sustaining my business & education
says Waseem.

Microfinance Institutions have a major role to play in countries like Pakistan. As per UNDP’s Human Development Report 2020, 38.3% of the population is multidimensionally poor, while another 12.9% are classified as vulnerable to multidimensional poverty. By leveraging the power of digital in the right way, microfinance banks can play a transformative role in narrowing financial inequalities and supporting inclusive communities.

Waseem’s journey is exemplary of the powerful effect financial inclusion, made possible through microfinance, can have in transforming lives of deserving but underprivileged members of our society.

Ali Ibrahim is a technology enthusiast and Maryam Kamal is a Sustainability & Communications Specialist. They are both part of MMBL’s Corporate Communications Team.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are personal and do not reflect the views of the authors’ company.

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