Context of Gender Parity in Financial Inclusion:
With the growing economic turndown affecting millions worldwide, vulnerable communities in developing nations such as Pakistan face a lot of challenges. An estimated 82% of women in Pakistan remain unbanked and underserved by formal financial means, indicating a significant opportunity for financial institutions to tap into the potential of this essential segment. The State Bank of Pakistan, has also taken the necessary steps to try filling the gender gap in financial inclusion through impactful policies such as the Banking on Equality policy which incentivizes financial institutions to not only work towards the empowerment of women but also other marginalized segments including persons with disabilities (PWDs).
The leading digital microfinance bank in the country, Mobilink Bank has been an active participant in the implementation of female-friendly initiative customized for the unique needs of unbanked women across Pakistan. Under the umbrella of its flagship women empowerment program, Women Inspirational Network (WIN), the Bank has thus far taken great strides towards female financial inclusion.
Women Inspirational Network (WIN) & Its Achievements:
Promoting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has always been a priority for Mobilink Bank. With the introduction of the WIN program, the focus has strengthened further in recent years. The WIN program is working to increase access to finance for underrepresented groups including women-owned businesses and ventures located in rural areas. The aim is to not only curate customized financial offerings for seamless access to funds such as the Bint-e-Hawwa Current Account and Bint-e-Hawwa Business Loan, but also play a part in enhancing financial and digital literacy for women in particular, equipping them with all the necessary skills needed for their financial independence. As of this year, over 15,000 women entrepreneurs have been enabled with more than PKR 4.3 Billion in essential business establishment and expansion funds. Additionally, over 1,000 female entrepreneurs have been upskilled in digital and financial literacy. The WIN program also works to foster meaningful relationships with likeminded organizations to expand the influence of the program and empower as many women as possible. Some of these partnerships include Care International in Pakistan, an impactful organization working towards female financial inclusion as part of Mastercard’s Ignite project. It is also important to note that through its concerted efforts, the WIN program has not only received express recognition from the State Bank of Pakistan but has also garnered national and international buzz through various awards and accolades including Best Practice Case Study by the International Labour Organization, D&I Leader CSR Award and the Gender Balanced Workforce Award from the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) and more.
In addition to working towards the empowerment of external audiences, the WIN program also devotes its efforts to enabling a safe and inclusive environment within Mobilink Bank’s walls. Female employees have access to several facilitative benefits including healthcare, maternity, transport and flexible hours all of which help their career progression and personal growth.
Upcoming Initiatives for WIN
The future of the WIN program is driven by a passion for maximum financial and digital literacy among women in even the remotest parts of the country through a seamless and accessible Learning Management System which is integrated within Mobilink Bank’s premium digital financial services platform, DOST. Additionally, a state-of-the-art Women Business Center is all set to launch as an accessible platform for female entrepreneurs to collaborate through and establish or enhance their business ventures while networking for stronger collaborative efforts.