The Rethinking Microfinance – Developing a New Inclusive Finance Compass Conference was held at Serena Hotel on December 4th and 5th, 2019 where, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue inaugurated the two-day Microfinance Conference on Rethinking Microfinance, with leaders of the sector in attendance. The conference was hosted by Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), where industry stakeholders came together to share experiences, engaged in dialogue on the latest developments globally and locally and formulated directions for the future of microfinance in Pakistan.

The primary objective of this conference to initiate a dialogue for concerted efforts among all relevant stakeholders, to identify the possible bottlenecks that exist in the industry that can possibly hinder the financial inclusion process and propose ideas to overcome it.

Another purpose of this event is to provide a platform to all stakeholders such as microfinance providers, financial service providers involved in financial inclusion (like banks, digital financial service providers, FinTechs) insurance companies), donor agencies, policy makers, regulators, development agencies and government authorities and discuss the ways to broaden the horizons of the microfinance industry.

Syed Nadeem Hussain, Chairperson Pakistan Microfinance Network, gave an overview of the microfinance industry in Pakistan today and what the ambitions of the industry are for the future. He highlighted that the future of the industry rests with embracing technology and mechanizing the customer experience. In addition, he stated the need for engaging in product and liquidity intervention and customer right to protection of data.

Mr. Naved A. Khan, Chairman PMIC, said that although funding appetite of the sector is being addressed through institutions like PMIC, there is still a long way to go. He mentioned that one of the frontiers that the stakeholders now need to turn their attention to is capital creation for microfinance institutions. He stated that despite good progress, microfinance industry needed seed capital for creating more organizations to tap into low penetration areas.

Ms. Anqa Butt, Group Head, Economic Growth Group, DFID Pakistan acknowledged and thanked the hosts for conducting the event, as it gives an opportunity to hear from stakeholders and hold a conducive dialogue around pressing issues facing the sector.

Mr. Samar Hasnain, Executive Director, State Bank of Pakistan, shared how the State Bank has the financial inclusion strategy as its key objective and the central bank is focusing on developing an enabling regulatory environment, building a risk-sharing mechanism for microfinance borrowers and building the capacity of bankers and loan officers.
While addressing the gathering, Mr. Shuazab Ali, Commissioner Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, commended the role of microfinance institutions in plugging the gap of providing services for the base of the pyramid clients. He further added that the there was a need to develop innovation in products and delivery and the microfinance industry is well-placed to provide these services. Over the two days of the conference, over 200 distinguished and eminent speakers from the world’s leading microfinance organizations discussed the prevailing challenges and recent developments in the microfinance sector.

The conference presents a unique opportunity for policy makers, microfinance professionals, trainers, practitioners, donors, regulators and other members to engage in a dialogue and showcase a wide variety of success stories, explore recent innovations, and connect with the institutions that are involved in the digitization of microfinance in developing countries.