Citi Foundation – PPAF honor 37 entrepreneurial champions from across Pakistan

Islamabad: 37 entrepreneurial champions from the rural areas of Pakistan have been honored at the 14th Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Award (CMA) ceremony, jointly hosted by the Citi Foundation and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF).

The recipients of the Awards from all geographical localities of Pakistan have shown remarkable entrepreneurial skills by availing microfinance facility through various Financial Institutions (FIs). They have not only secured a prosperous life for their families but also emerged as role models in their respective communities.

Thardeep Microfinance Institution won the award for the most innovative Micro-finance Institution (MFI), while Telenor Microfinance Bank and the Kashf Foundation were the runner-ups in this category. The winner for the national microfinance (female) category is Ms Sumera Arzoo who was a borrower from the CSC Empowerment and Inclusion Programme, while Mr. Abdul Ghaffar bagged the award for national microfinance (male) category who availed financing from Khushhali Microfinance Bank Ltd.

Ms Sima Kamil, Deputy Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), on the occasion commended all the community members who have established small businesses with the help of micro loans. In her recorded video message, she exclaimed that she was immensely happy to note that almost 60% of award winners are women.

“The State Bank of Pakistan recognizes microfinance as an effective tool for an inclusive financial system as it gives access to those socio-economic segments, especially enterprises, who are otherwise neglected. The SBP has enhanced the limit for micro enterprises and micro housing from 1 million to 3 million to support the financing needs of the low-income segments,” Ms Kamil added.

The Deputy Governor SBP further added that the share of women borrowers currently is just 20% and urged the MFIs to be gender inclusive policies. She especially commended the efforts of the Citi Foundation and PPAF for strengthening the microfinance sector in Pakistan through these years.

Mr. Ahmed Bozai, Citi Country Officer & Managing Director, Pakistan while addressing the ceremony said, "These aspiring individuals are a living testament of how hard work, perseverance, and determination can spell success, despite very little capital and resources. Citi and the Citi Foundation are committed to support the budding entrepreneurs of the country and is proud to be associated with them.”

He congratulated PPAF for successfully implementing the CMA programme in Pakistan for the last 14 years. He said, “This collaboration has laid the foundation of a flourishing microfinance industry where new microfinance networks have been created and more people are now accessing micro-loans for generating income and achieving self-sufficiency.”

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Nadir Gul, COO, PPAF said, “It is an excellent programme, and we laud the Citi Foundation’s commitment in organising these awards year after year. This programme honors extraordinary micro-entrepreneurs across Pakistan who, with their small enterprises, have transformed microcredit loans into life changing opportunities for their families and communities.”

PPAF and its partners have provided 8.4 million microcredit loans over the years to support the economic empowerment of underserved rural communities. Since inception, the CMA has recognised over 500 outstanding micro-entrepreneurs in Pakistan. The objective of the programme is to highlight extraordinary micro-entrepreneurs who have taken small loans and built businesses that sustain them economically and allow them to contribute to their communities by providing employment.

The Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards programme serves as an important milestone in showcasing Pakistan’s real success stories to a global audience as well as helps bolster Pakistan’s image internationally.

For the 14th CMA, a total of 216 nominations were received from various MFIs operating across Pakistan, out of which micro-entrepreneurs satisfying the criteria of 100% repayment rate, measurable results in terms of employment generation, sales turnover, growth in enterprise profits, and rate of reinvestment of enterprise profits were shortlisted by a third party. This short list was then submitted to an independent jury consisting of prominent individuals from the academia, private sector and from the international development community who met with all the candidates to elect the winners and the runners-up. The award winners also benefitted a short training on marketing and financial management to help them enhance their enterprises.

The CMA programme, launched in 2005, is a global initiative that showcases microfinance as a potent tool for poverty alleviation, and micro-entrepreneurs as responsible, accountable, and credit-worthy bank clients. The ceremony held in Islamabad was a successful culmination of more than a decade-long partnership between the Citi Foundation and PPAF, with an aim to inspire similar initiatives to come forward and support the aspiring micro-entrepreneurs and further strengthen the microfinance industry of Pakistan.

About Citi Foundation:

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyse job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit