Mar 30 - Apr 05, 2009

LAHORE: Realising the importance of SME sector that is the engine of growth for economies worldwide, Standard Chartered Bank launched a programme, which is aimed at supporting the training and development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The programme will include innovative financial products, skills development, business mentoring and research to help small SMEs fulfill their growth potential.

Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Syed Salim Raza launched Standard Chartered's programme in Lahore on March 24 at the LCCI.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, 99 per cent of enterprises in Pakistan are SMEs and SMEs account for 30 percent of Pakistan's GDP. As yet the sector's full potential is far from realised.

This programme will start off from Lahore, and then will be rolled out in Gujranwala, Sialkot and Faisalabad, targeting more than 100 entrepreneurs in these cities. Standard Chartered Pakistan has a large SME business and has identified different SME business segments to focus the training on.

This programme is Standard Chartered's response to the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown's Millennium Development Goal Business Call to Action. International Finance Corporation (IFC) will be Standard Chartered's primary partner in delivering this programme.

Commenting on the launch, Governor State Bank of Pakistan said: "The Pilot Programme, launched jointly by SCB and IFC, is indeed a landmark attempt to develop the capacities of smaller entities. It would be helpful in developing innovative products such as hybrid financing models combining consumer and micro finance models, and hopefully it would also encourage other banks to focus on this area."

Mr. Raza said that the State bank is conscious of the importance of SMEs in the overall economic development of the country and that the State Bank has taken a number of initiatives for the development of SME sector in Pakistan.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Badar Kazmi, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Pakistan said, "Standard Chartered has operated in Pakistan since 1863 and is the country's largest and fastest growing international bank the Bank has experience of the market and the SME sector. This programme will provide small and underserved SMEs with innovative banking products; help develop their skills in critical areas such as business planning and product marketing; and provide them with business mentors. The commitment also supports the State Bank of Pakistan's priorities for the nation's economic development."