PPAF launches 2nd phase of GRASP Matching Grants to agri-based SMEs in Sindh

Karachi (17th February 2023)

Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) has distributed Matching Grants worth Rs 269 million amongst 128 beneficiaries to promote agri-business in Sindh. The initiative aims to contribute to the overall economic development of the province by supporting small and medium enterprises from 6 districts of the province namely Karachi, Hyderabad, Tharparkar, Khairpur, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas, Sujawal, Thatta, Tando Muhammad Khan, Shaheed Benazirabad, Matiari and Sanghar.

The Matching Grants were distributed under Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) which is an European Union (EU) funded project being implemented by by International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Shazia Mari, Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety; Daniel Clauss, Head of Political Section, Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan; Ghufran Memon, Secretary, Ministry for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety; Robert Skidmore, Chief Sector and Enterprise Competitiveness, International Trade Centre; Abdul Rahseed Solangi, Secretary Industry and Commerce; Ms Roshan Khursheed Bharucha, Chairperson PPAF; Mr Nadir Gul Barech, COO PPAF; representatives of the partner organizations including FAO, SMEDA RDF, TRDP, GSF, SAFCWO and GRASP beneficiaries along with other dignitaries were present in the specially held distribution ceremony. Under GRASP, the size of the grants distributed ranges from PKR 0.5 to 2.5 million based on the business plans shared by the SMEs and robust evaluation of the capacities of the SMEs conducted under the project earlier.

The Minister visited the stalls set up by the winning SMEs to showcase their products and businesses and distributed the Matching Grant awards to these grantees. While sharing her views as the chief guest on this occasion, she termed GRASP as a critical intervention for the economic uplift the rural areas of Sindh and said “I was heartened to talk to the hardworking SME owners, especially the women business owners, who have travelled all the way from their villages and districts today. I laud these 127 SME owners as their contributions will not only improve their financial conditions, but offer job opportunities to people in their area,s which is critical to economic prosperity in this country.” She especially appreciated the special focus to gender equality, inclusion of minorities and climate resilience in the project, which will also improve Pakistan’s performance against the SDG indicators in the long-run.

Mr Daniel Clauss while addressing the audience stressed on the 60 years of relationship between the EU and Pakistan, and said that GRASP is a significant investment to boost agriculture in Pakistan as this sector is the backbone of the economy. He further said, “On behalf of EU, I’m proud and happy to see that 47 out of the 128 SMEs owners receiving their awards today are women.”. He informed that the project is designed to promote climate adaptive and resilient production to also tackle the issue of climate change in Pakistan in the long run.

Mr Robert Skidmore appreciated the joint effort efforts of ITC, PPAF and other partners for ensuring a transparent and a robust process to shortlist the winners of the matching grants. He said “These matching grants epitomizes GRASP’s co-investment with the private sector to create jobs, improve climate resilience, add more value and ultimately reduce poverty.”

Ms Roshan Khursheed earlier said “I thank the PASS Division, EU, ITC, FAO, SMEDA and all the implementing partners on behalf of PPAF for contributing to the success of the programme. GRASP is continuity of the PPAF’s resolve to serve the underprivileged communities of the country. The programme is unique for the aspects benefitting SMEs besides the matching grants. Through GRASP, we are also reaching out to small businesses in rural areas for the provision of technical expertise and trainings to develop business proposals or to seek soft loans from banks.

She added further “I proud of GRASP’s success in improving access to finance for agri-based SMEs and boost the trend of entrepreneurship in the communities belonging to remote areas.”

While addressing the audience, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mr. Nadir Gul Barech thanked the PASS Division, EU, ITC and SMEDA for providing strategic guidance and their support to make GRASP a success. He further said that he is proud of PPAF for being a sector developer in the poverty graduation approach in Pakistan, and that GRASP is a step forward in boosting the local economy in the target areas of Sindh and Balochistan through creating jobs.

In the first cycle Rs 106.5 million were disbursed for 55 SMEs after a competitive process in targeted value chains. The project is governed by three steering committees i.e., at the national level led by the Government of Pakistan and two at the provincial level led by the governments of Sindh and Balochistan. Key stakeholders include producers, agricultural service providers, small and medium-sized enterprises, policy makers and consumers.