Islamabad – The U.S. government has launched a program to provide credit to qualified micro, small and medium-sized business in Pakistan.
The U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit Program was inaugurated by Donald Larry Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the USAID, says a statement posted on official website of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.
The program, launched as part of the third U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, partners USAID with four Pakistani banks — Bank Alfalah Limited, JS Bank Limited, Khushhalibank Limited, and First MicroFinanceBank Limited. The initiative will help such businesses expand, create jobs and increase revenue.
The two-day conference, inaugurated by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on March 10, was intended to bring together Pakistani and American companies to meet face-to-face and build business ties.
“Small businesses face challenges to growth, not just here in Pakistan, but in the United States as well,” Sampler said, adding that the bank partnership was part of a larger umbrella of U.S. support to provide direct assistance to small and medium businesses to help them grow and expand into new markets.
Of the approximately 3.2 million businesses in Pakistan, nearly 3 million are small and medium sized and contribute more than 30 percent to Pakistan’s gross domestic product and account for 25 percent of the country’s total export earnings.
The USAID has partnered with local banks to provide up to $60 million in loan capital to micro, small and medium businesses. Pakistani banks are reluctant to lend to small and medium size businesses, considering the sector as too risky to invest, according to the statement.
In the last three years, USAID programs have helped create 23,000 jobs and provided business development services to more than 85,000 micro, small and medium enterprises in Pakistan.
The U.S. is Pakistan’s single largest trading partner with two-way trade touching $5.33 billion mark in 2013. U.S. companies have invested $1.3 billion in the Pakistani economy in the last seven years.