Are Pakistan’s Women Entrepreneurs Being Served by the Microfinance Sector?
This paper aims to determine whether Pakistan’s women entrepreneurs have access to, and are using, microfinance loans as a source of finance. It focuses on products, services, policies, and other elements of the business model of microfinance in Pakistan that affect both demand for and access to microfinance by women borrowers. The paper addresses two distinct issues. First, whether women are often not the final users of loans, but rather are conduits to male household members. Second, if a very low proportion of female microfinance clients are entrepreneurs. The findings of the report are based on in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and analysis of portfolio data on 27 MFIs. It discusses the following in detail:
- Introduction and background of women-owned businesses and their access to microfinance in Pakistan;
- Findings from 33 focus group discussions with field staff as well as with active female microfinance borrowers and entrepreneurs on four grounds: pass-through lending, credit for entrepreneurship, savings, and insurance;
- Identification of issues with the existing model for lending to women entrepreneurs and recommendations for stakeholders such as the State Bank of Pakistan.