Karachi—International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has signed an advisory services agreement with United Bank Limited (UBL) to help boost access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and spur economic growth. SMEs play a vital role in Pakistan’s economy, but many still struggle to access funding. Commercial bank lending to SMEs in Pakistan is currently less than 6 percent of total bank lending, which is significantly lower than neighboring countries. This agreement is part of ongoing efforts by the World Bank Group to boost financial inclusion globally and achieve universal financial access by 2020.
The agreement will help UBL design a new SME banking business model and supply chain finance program. This will further assist the bank strengthen its capacity in the sector and offer better financial services and new products to smaller enterprises – a critically underserved sector in the economy. Zia Ijaz, Group Executive Retail Banking of United Bank Limited, said: “UBL leads the banking and financial services industry in Pakistan. Given the Bank’s extensive footprint across Pakistan, UBL is perfectly placed to service the SME segment”. “IFC will leverage its global SME knowledge and local market insights to help UBL adopt international best practices in SME banking,” said Xavier Reille, Manager Financial Institutions Group Manager Europe Middle East & North Africa.