Citi Foundation and PPAF Honor 37 Entrepreneurial Champions From Across Pakistan

The recipients of the Awards from all geographical localities of Pakistan have shown remarkable entrepreneurial skills by availing the 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 Microfinance Institution (MFI), while Telenor Microfinance Bank and the Kashf Foundation were the runner-ups in this category. The winner of 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.


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


Ms. Sima Kamil, Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) commended all the community members who have established small businesses with the help of micro loans. In her 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 supporting the budding entrepreneurs of the country and are proud to be associated with them.

He congratulated PPAF for successfully implementing the CMA program in Pakistan for the last 14 years. He said,

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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, Chief Operating Officer (COO), PPAF said,

It is an excellent program, and we laud the Citi Foundation’s commitment to organizing these awards year after year. This program 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 its inception, the Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Award (CMA) has recognized over 500 outstanding micro-entrepreneurs in Pakistan. The objective of the program 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 program 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 satisfied 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 shortlist was then submitted to an independent jury consisting of prominent individuals from the academia, the private sector, and from international development community who met with all the candidates to select the winners and the runners-up. The award winners also benefitted from a short training on marketing and financial management to help them enhance their enterprises.

The CMA program, 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.


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