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First Women Bank Ltd.
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Why is the FWBL model a National Treasure
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MESSAGES
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Interviews
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Board of Directors FWBL
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The rural woman makes her move
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To those who think banks
  
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Shaukat Tarin
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MESSAGES
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The CIDA-FWBL partnership
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New Products of FWBL
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Executive Committee First Women Bank Limited
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Micro credit -- The star performer at FWBL
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NRSP-FWBL Partnership
       
       
       

First Women Bank Ltd.
Where women take the lead
14 years of successful operation

Dare to dream
The extent of the financial crisis at FWBL in 2001 would
have had grown men crying. Fortunately, the new
management was made of sterner stuff

The 2001 financial records of First Women Bank Limited were a banker's illustration of Murphy's Law. It wasn't only the fact that business was bad and profits were a meagre 26 million-rupees for the year 2000. With a capital of just Rs 200 million, the bank was sitting on losses worth a whopping Rs 138m. Further, pending tax assessments for the years 1995-98 represented another Rs 288m threat to the equity base. Without a trained middle-level management, management systems or an IT system to link the 38 branches, six senior executives scrambled to manually run the entire bank. When the credit rating agency PACRA alerted the bank with a 'speculative' long-term rating, no one was surprised. First Women Bank Limited was clearly on its way out. But two and a half years later, the bank has miraculously shown a clean balance sheet and Rs 269m in profits, an increase of more than 935 percent. And the critics want to know-how.

"Grit, determination and our collective belief in the model," answers bank president Zarine Aziz. "We knew that there was no other alternative and that no one else would step in to rescue us." Previously the bank's general manager for the Punjab, even Aziz had no idea of how bad the situation was till she sat at her new desk. Established in 1989, FWBL was supposed to cater to the special economic needs of women. Over the years, however, weak institutional capacity as well as a deficiency of human resource eroded the bank's linkages with the target community. In 1996, imprudent forex transactions left the discredited management holding a Rs 319m bill till regulator State Bank of Pakistan bailed them out with a Rs 200m loan. In order to prevent incidents of this nature, the Privatisation Commission hit the bank with an embargo on its credit disbursement activities. The branch expansion programme, recruitment plans and upward revisions in pay scales were also axed. With its hands thus tied, the bank was forced to park its funds with either other banks or in the low-yielding government securities. Predictably, the bank fell into dire financial straits.

Eager to cut its losses, the government put the bank up for privatisation in 1997. Although this decision was subsequently reversed in March 2001 by the government of General Pervez Musharraf, the damage had already been done. In the face of stagnant salaries and uncertainty regarding the bank's future, some of the best talent moved elsewhere. At a time when the bank desperately needed well-qualified and experienced bankers, there were few to be had. And unlike other NCBs, FWBL was not accorded the luxury of consultants in shining armour. At the insistence of SBP Governor Dr Ishrat Husain, however, the presidents of the five NCBs, which were the major shareholders in the bank, were brought back to the board of directors.

"We were advised to hire consultants to develop the business plan but we had no money," remembers Aziz. At the first meeting of the board in August 2001, Dr. Ishrat Husain set up two committees to help FWBL with restructuring. One was to assist the bank with recruitment while the other was to help formulate the business plan. Using suggestions provided by the committee as the starting point, the chief financial officer of FWBL, the head of audit and Aziz sat together to develop a business plan for the bank. "My only exposure to anything resembling a business plan was a project proposal I'd put together as a member of the task force in the Punjab," she laughs. "However, we knew the bank, its strengths and weaknesses far better than any outsider would."

That said, things weren't quite as simple. Making money was critical to the independent existence of the bank. The institution was not intended as a welfare agency but as a dynamic financial intermediary. However, mobilising resources and intelligently managing funds to secure healthy returns were not the only issues. The focus on women development was an integral part of the agenda and the charter of the FWBL clearly envisaged the institution simultaneously functioning as a developmental agency. The challenge was to reconcile the two objectives: to economically empower women while making money. "

As the planners discovered, the single challenge of twin objectives spawned a host of other obstacles. First of all, capital of Rs 200m can only take one so far and no more. In order to improve outreach and impact, the bank needed to enhance its paid-up capital to one billion rupees. This would give them the ability to leverage their balance sheet to the greater advantage of their intended beneficiaries, besides being in line with SBP's directives for commercial banks.

Further, a more judicious deployment of existing resources was required to improve profitability. Government securities and credit lines to other banks were the safest investment option but did not allow FWBL to make healthy returns comparable to those offered on, say, corporate loans. Projecting further, while the conservative lending strategy succeeded in keeping the advances portfolio from becoming infected, it subverted both the commercial as well as the developmental objectives of the bank. The key was then to devise systems and mechanisms that would allow the bank to intelligently assess and manage risk while making credit decisions.

Further, the ambitious mission statement spoke of a bank, which was "dynamic, adaptive and responsive to the special economic needs of women" and  offered "the best financial services and the best banking practices". In order to achieve this goal, the bank required professionals sensitive to the needs to women. Thus was born the target of human resource development and the training of 200 bankers.

With these ground realities in mind, the management set to formulating a business plan. The three-pronged strategy that finally emerged looked to strengthen operations, improve management systems and focus on women development. "It took us six months to fine-tune the plan but we had to sequence it right," reminds Aziz. The final plan was target-specific and, most importantly, doable.

In the first phase of the restructuring, qualified professionals were brought on board to head the newly minted divisions of audit, credit, finance, planning & operations, marketing as well as treasury. Where experienced women were not available, Aziz successfully inducted a few men in the hitherto all-women bank. This also succeeded in establishing a culture of meritocracy. To prevent making the mistakes of the past, financial planning & discipline as well as internal checks and balances were introduced into the system.

In order to institutionalise work methodologies, guidelines and manuals on audit, credit and treasury as well as credit and investment policies and procedures were devised and implemented. Lending was stratified according to type: corporate, SME and micro credit. For the first time in the bank's history, it finally had a committee - the Asset & Liability Management Committee - solely responsible for exploring new avenues for fund deployment.

The risk management division set up in May 2003 was responsible for managing risk and spread, a critical measure in the face of inadequate credit expertise at the branches. In order to provide technical support to the branches as well as retain control on credit decisions and risk assessments, the planners decided to centralise operations by setting up a credit pool at the head office. And a brand-new MIS system with fully integrated software was rendered operational. So far 25 branches have been fully computerised and the entire network will be computerised by end March 2004. 

To improve the financial performance of the bank, the team identified key indicators and set to revamping them. A concerted lending strategy was launched and by the end of 2003, advances had shot up from Rs 604m in 2000 to Rs 1,308m. The infected loan portfolio was reduced from Rs 129m in 2000 to Rs 95m in 2003. The bank took healthy provisions against bad loans. Realising that the bank was haemorrhaging cash on high cost deposits, the management consciously tapped into current and savings accounts. "Since remaining competitive was important, we focused on improving customer services and marketing instead of merely luring depositors by offering higher rates. As a result, we succeeded in bringing back old clients of bank," explains Aziz. "We incentivised our team by offering them a percentage of the profits. The strategy paid off and we managed to pare down our cost of deposits from 6.2 per cent in 2001 to the current 2.3 per cent." Syndicated financing was another new area the bank started looking into for improving profitability.

Over the time, the products of the bank also came to reflect a certain women-centric ethos. Broadly divided into four categories - micro finance, SMEs, corporate and support services - each product is customised according to the needs of the client. Today, the micro finance portfolio, which is a development and support initiative, accounts for more than 76 per cent of total borrowers and is the star performer at FWBL. The micro-loan amount varies from Rs 5,000 to Rs 100,000. Over the last 14 years, 26,648 borrowers have availed loans of Rs 7.1 billion. Of these, 20,450 borrowers have been micro-borrowers.  The bank has simultaneously generated employment for 1,007 million beneficiaries. "We inspire women to dream," says Aziz.

"Our credit policies are unique in that they are designed to encourage asset ownership by women," says Aziz. Even male-owned businesses that look towards FWBL for funding have to ensure a woman as an equal partner. "By insisting on this requirement, we are securing women both legally and financially."

Home loans are another example of pro-asset creation policies. That a house can represent the greatest

security a woman has is something FWBL understands. So at a mark-up rate of just nine per cent, a woman can borrow anywhere between 0.2 million-rupees to 7.5 million-rupees to buy a house. "We introduced car loans and educational loans, for example, because we understand that the environment for women is changing. Today, mobility and education are crucial to the advancement of a woman's career," explains Aziz. Last year, the bank launched banking courses for its bankers and 44 employees have already been put through the programme.

"It's not enough to just provide an entrepreneur with cash," she insists. A woman who is going into business requires far greater levels of support. "The objective is to empower them by providing help where they need it in order to grow their business."

The bank has several such support initiatives under its belt. The first two were the women business centre and the computer literacy centre, which were launched in 1994 and 1999 respectively. The former  is aimed at to provide women with skill training, helping them identify business opportunities and tap into existing resources. Further, the programme helped women develop linkages and network, essential components of running a business. The computer literacy centre sought to provide the urban poor with access to the technology that would improve their job prospects. To date, 4,857 women entrepreneurs have been developed while 6,364 women have been given computer training.

Carrying on with the tradition of support services, the bank has recently launched a financial services desk. Covering aspects such as credit management, trade finance, legal counselling, tax consultancy as well as marketing, the in-house facility provides women professionals with support in core areas where they lack expertise or understanding. Meanwhile, the bank is also developing a business women's directory, a database that will allow women to network with each other and share the benefits of their experiences. "There is not enough data available on women borrowers," complains Aziz. "As a result, it becomes hard to research trends and determine outreach. Besides, this effort also ties in neatly with the government's objective of documentation of the economy."

It is this attitude, which distinguishes the bank from its competition. "We have a niche market - women - and we want to partner with them and encourage them to do the best they're capable of, for themselves as well as the greater social good," says Aziz. She proudly narrates the example of Depilex - Smileagain, the first burns rehabilitation centre for women in Pakistan. "There have been some 3,600 cases of burn victims since 1996 and very few government hospitals have adequately equipped burn units. So when the owner of the beauty salon Depilex, Masarrat Misbah, came to us with this proposal, we jumped to partner with her," reveals Aziz. With funding from FWBL, the centre flew in a team of surgeons from Italy who have successfully operated on 10 burns victims so far.

"Banking the FWBL way is not about foisting loans on reluctant clients but about selling a lifestyle," says Aziz. "The model of FWBL is designed for women at all levels of economic activity. To our mind, a micro-borrower of today is a potential SME client of tomorrow. And it's up to us to make them realise their dreams of making it big." In line with this stated objective, the bank continues to aggressively expand its core customer base of women borrowers and depositors. In the last two-and-a-half years, the amount of financing provided either to women or to women-owned enterprises, has increased from Rs 430m to Rs 858m, an increase of almost 100 percent. Meanwhile, the number of women borrowers as a percentage of total borrowers has increased from 71 per cent to 87 per cent. Even the number of women account-holders has risen from 59,297 to 71,022.

It was this dedication and commitment to a larger social cause that caught the eye of international agencies. Initially impressed by the financial services desk, CIDA volunteered financial assistance to the tune of Rs 24m for three years and committed to run the desks at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The agency also undertook the training of 200 women bankers.

The ILO became another convert to the FWBL way of thinking and approached the bank for a strategic alliance. "We joined hands with ILO-IPEC and were committed to eliminating child labour from the carpet-weaving industries in the districts of Hafizabad, Sheikhupura and Gujranwala," narrates Aziz. "We identified viable income-generating projects for the mothers of such children, equipped them with adequate skills and disbursed small loans to help them either become self-employed or set up micro enterprises." As usual, the bank provided financial as well as non-financial support such as the identification of 42 potential microbusinesses. The project was launched in 66 villages and disbursed 5.4 million-rupees among 846 families. And again, the strategy paid rich dividends. "In the short span of one year, we've successfully managed to wean the poor families off exploitation of child labour. And our recovery rate is an unprecedented 100 per cent," exults Aziz.

In two-and-a-half years - between May 2001 and December 2003 - the management has achieved the financial turnaround its detractors said was impossible. The bank repaid the SBP loan in July 2001, and due to the intervention of Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and CBR, received a tax refund of Rs 237 m in July 2002. In April 2003, the bank wiped out the entire brought forward losses as of December 2000 of Rs 139m. This was despite the fact that the bank took on the additional burden of provisioning Rs 30m for the year 2000.

Today, the bank is back in the black and looks poised for exponential growth. From Rs 2.2m a month in 2000, average pre-tax profits have shot up to Rs 22.4m in 2003. The net equity has jumped from Rs 110m  to Rs 629m, an increase of more than 472 per cent. Investments, too, have soared from Rs 2,399m to Rs 7,483m. Meanwhile, the bank made fresh credit disbursements worth Rs 2,083m and renewals worth Rs 713m, making for a total of Rs 2,796m. And the icing on the cake is the fact that the loans classified as overdue are worth a meagre Rs 1.9m, just 0.09 per cent of the total fresh disbursements. Small wonder then that net profit has ballooned by an astounding Rs 269m, an increase of 935 percent. At present, earnings per share after tax stand at Rs 8.03, a huge jump from the 2000 value of Rs 2.07. Finally comfortable, the management has shifted to new head office, which symbolises the many milestones crossed on the path of financial sustainability and strength. Clearly, the strategic direction and strategies taken in the turbulent 2001 have paid off.

However, the management is not resting on its laurels just as yet. The bank is continuously restructuring itself in line with established banking norms while maintaining its women-oriented focus and adapting to the changing environment within the banking industry. "Industry wide, margins are waning. Banks are now competing on technology and marketing skills," says Aziz. "Fortunately, our focus is in sync with current government's priorities such as consumer and agricultural credit as well as lending to micro and SME borrowers."

Quite apart from the business issues are regulatory matters. With the SBP playing a dynamic and proactive role as regulator, the onus is now on the banks. "There is a lot of emphasis on the corporate code of governance and on risk management. Under the institutional risk assessment framework which will be implemented from this quarter onwards, we will be under a lot of pressure to deliver on various counts," worries Aziz. If the implementation of the KIBOR as a financial services benchmark is any indication, banking in Pakistan is rapidly acquiring greater sophistication.

There are, of course, certain challenges specific to FWBL. For example, although the SBP has deferred the one-billion-rupees paid-up capital requirement for the time being, the management is still working to this end. On the cards are online e-banking and ATM connectivity though a strategic alliance with MCB. "We've taken the first step in making ourselves a force to reckon with in the sphere of women-oriented banking. But our ultimate target is to be the natural choice for all women to bank with," concludes Aziz.

First Women Bank Ltd. UAN:(021)111-676-767, e-mail: entrepreneur@cyber.net.pk

 


MESSAGES

Shaukat Aziz

Federal Minister for Finance &

Economic Affairs

I am happy to learn that the First Women Bank Ltd has completed its 14th successful year of operation on December 2, 2003.

Since the year 2001 till date, FWBL has achieved excellent financial turnaround in the form of the highest ever profits and balance sheet growth. The bank in 2003, once again accomplished the highest results in all key components over the last 14 years, despite constraints, tough market competition and adverse economic conditions.

The bank's deposits increased from  Rs 3.4 billion (Dec 2000) to 8.1 billion in year 2003 (reflecting growth of 139%). Advances enhanced from Rs 604 million (Dec 2000) to Rs 1.3 billion (reflecting growth of 117%). Profit increased from Rs 26 million (Dec 2000) to Rs 269 million (reflecting growth of 935%).

The net equity increased from Rs 110  million (Dec 2000) to Rs 629 million in year 2003 (reflecting growth of 472%).

The entire loss of Rs 138 million (Dec 2000) has been wiped of in May 2003. 

The government has provided an enabling atmosphere to the financial sector to play its role in the economic development. Far-reaching reforms introduced by the State Bank and the SECP, have inducted transparency, promoted efficiency and have encouraged the bank to package and market consumer friendly products to promote real estate, consumer goods and automobile sector. The First Women Bank Limited could play its role by encouraging women to become  equal development partners through enterprise and entrepreneurship. The First Women Bank Limited should, therefore, design women-specific products to generate self-employment among the women.

The establishment of FWBL is in fact a reflection of the fact that women entrepreneurs deserve credit, based on their merits and ability to pay and the right to credit is the right of every woman in Pakistan.

The FWBL should, therefore, encourage women entrepreneurship in agriculture, small and medium enterprises, consumer items and house finance. It should encourage women's partnership through professional consultancy to promote itself as career women support system to become an enviable financial outfit and set precedents for others to follow.

In the end, I am sure that the First Women Bank Ltd will grow from strength to strength.

 

Zobaida Jalal

Federal Minister for Education

Iam immensely pleased to learn that the First Women Bank Ltd (FWBL) has completed its 14 years of successful operation. Its vision to be the lead Bank for women: dynamic, adaptive and responsive to their special economic needs, offering the best financial services and the best banking practices, is being realised. Its establishment was the need of the hour for the socio-economic uplift of the women folk who constitute half of our population. FWBL thus became the pioneer in helping the Pakistani women, in their personal as well as collective economic prosperity through exclusive as well as innovative banking facilities. The financial turn over, increased deposits, advances and profits during recent years speak of the dynamism and dedication of the management team in general and the leadership of Ms Zarine Aziz in particular. I wish all success and prosperity to FWBL in the days to come.

 

Dr. Ishrat Husain

Governor State Bank of Pakistan

T he 14th anniversary of the First Women Bank Limited is a milestone in the history of the Bank. I am pleased to learn that the Management of FWBL is celebrating it in a befitting manner.

In a country like Pakistan where female literacy and female labour force participation have lagged behind times, innovative interventions have to be put in place to overcome the constraints facing our female population. One such intervention was to establish the First Women Bank Limited with the aim to bringing women entrepreneurs of the country to the mainstream of economic growth.

I am confident that in the years to come, FWBL will be more proactive to meet the credit and investment needs of women entrepreneurs of the country.

I wish the Management of FWBL all the success in its endeavours.

Nilofar Bakhtiar

Advisor to the Prime Minister and

Minister In charge, Ministry of Women Development, Social

Welfare and Special Education

It is indeed heartening to know that the First Women Bank Ltd has been making strides to prove itself as one of the successful banks in the public sector. The Bank is undertaking all forms of business of a banking company in a manner designed to meet the special needs of women and encouraging and assisting them in promoting trade, industry and practice of professions. The performance of the First Women Bank Ltd. during the first three years of the new century is commendable. I am sure the Bank will keep the same pace of progress with still better results in the years to come.

I hope the Bank will extend its out-reach programme to the rural areas and will introduce new products focusing on serving the poorest of the poor women.

 

Board of Directors FWBL

 Zarine Aziz

President & Chairperson First Women Bank Ltd

Zakir Mehmood

President, Habib Bank Ltd

Shaikh Mukhtar Ahmed

Vice Chairman, Muslim Commercial Bank Ltd

Amar Zafar Khan

President, United Bank Ltd

Khalid Sherwani

President, Allied Bank of Pakistan Ltd.

Suhaila Asif

Director General, Ministry of Women Development

Message of Ali Raza

President, National Bank of Pakistan,

on behalf of Board of Directors, FWBL

It gives me much pleasure to see First Women Bank Limited progressing. I, on

behalf of the Board of Directors,

commend the dedication aimed at the growth of the Bank. The prudent approach of Ms Zarine Aziz and her team has made the FWBL a respected financial institution.

I am confident that a large number of women entrepreneurs would benefit from the financial services being provided by the Bank and will become active participants of business in a more professional and

objective manner.

 

The rural woman makes her move
through ILO-IPEC/FWBL partnership
Child labour no more
Johannes Lokollo
Director, ILO Office, Islamabad

"In 1999, a project entitled 'Combating Child Labour in the Carpet Industry in Pakistan' was launched within the framework of the ILO-PCMEA Agreements, with financial support from Pakistan Carpets Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PCMEA) and the US Department of Labour (USDOL). The project was aimed at reducing child labour in the carpet industry, initially in Sheikhupura and Gujranwala districts. The main purpose was to provide education to working children as an alternative to work. It also provided an opportunity to families of these children to gain access to other employable skills.

A family-based approach was adopted and reliance was placed on viable income replacement schemes for the families of carpet-weaving children, particularly mothers, through income-generation and skill development programmes. First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) was the implementing partner of this major component of the project. It provided easy access to its financial and non-financial services to families of carpet weaving children. In a short span of one year, the programme has achieved all its objectives and targets. Micro-Finance Units have been established in Sheikhupura and Gujranwala districts. Area Profile Surveys and Local Economic Base Surveys have been conducted in project areas, identifying 42 micro-businesses. As a result of community organisation, 119 Groups for Income Generation (GIG) have been formed, comprising 869 members; they have

generated savings of Rs. 309,676 in 111 savings accounts. As many as 586 micro credits, amounting to Rs 5,193,000/- have been disbursed to families of carpet-weaving children, at an average rate of Rs 9,226.  A hundred per cent recovery of amounts due have been made. 144 women have been trained in skills with income-generating potential.

By successfully implementing the programme, FWBL has strengthened project interventions geared toward withdrawal of child labour from the carpet industry. FWBL reached out to deprived families to enable sustained increase in their family incomes. The disbursement of second loans in many cases is evidence of FWBL's effective operations and confidence of the families in the bank. FWBL's management has been extremely co-operative in facilitation and implementation of strategies. The Bank's procedures were simplified or tailored in accordance with programme requirements for target beneficiaries. Furthermore, transparency and appropriate use of project funds were hallmarks of FWBL's policies.

FWBL's efforts and services have been greatly appreciated by these communities. The programme has increased their hopes and has served as an incentive for them to join the national struggle against child labour. The programme could be replicated as a model in other similar interventions combating child labour. The collaboration between the ILO and FWBL at the national level has been highly appreciated by the ILO headquarters in Geneva, and the project donors as well."

 

To those who think banks

are the last place where

women would start trends,

take another look!

                             2000              2001               2002               2003            Increase

 

                                Rs. in Million                                   Over 2000

Shareholders Equity    110                350                646                629              472%

Total Assets             3,870             7,235             8,213              9,743            152%

Deposits                  3,399              6,167             6,580              8,126            139%

Advances                604                832                 872               1,308            117%

Recovery of NPLs      16                  43                   40                 37               131%

Profit Before Tax        26                115                135                269              935%

Average Pre-tax

Profit per Month                2.2                9.6                11.2                22.4                918%

Earning Per Share                2.07                5.05                2.27                8.03                288%

(Rs. per share)

 


"Why is the FWBL model a National Treasure"

-- Zarine Aziz

"The importance of the FWBL model goes far beyond that of the Grameen Bank which is for landless peasants. The government has recently realised the importance of micro credit and loans to the SMEs in poverty alleviation. We have been doing this business for 14 years. Today, this is among our biggest advantages.

The published collective outreach of 13 NGOs and various rural support programmes is just 67,000 borrowers and 100 million rupees. On the other hand, we've disbursed 7.1 billion rupees to over 26,000 borrowers. We know how 10,000 rupees can change the lives of people and we know of the salutary trickle-down impact it has on the economy. We've managed to create employment for over a million people through these disbursements.

"Most commercial banks are wary of entering into micro credit because micro credit is generally thought to be inherently risky. However, our stunning recovery rate of 95 per cent proves we have the capability and expertise required to do this business well. Further, our model caters to women at all financial levels. We're very comfortable lending to women. Since May 2001, we've made fresh disbursements worth 2.08 billion rupees and only 1.9 million is overdue (0.09%).

"No country can dream of freedom from poverty or an economic revival if approximately 52 per cent of its population does not play its role. The economic empowerment of women is going to have significant socio-economic ramifications for both society as well as the economy.

By providing women with the financial and non-financial support they need to emerge as key players, we are actually laying the foundation of a multifaceted revolution. Even the US, which allocates 1.3 trillion dollars to the development of women, cannot boast a specialised financial institution disbursing credit to women. Utilised properly, the FWBL model has the potential of transforming the face of Pakistan."

 

captionpix-5

Founder members of FWBL: From L/R (sitting) Siddiqueh Khalil, Shafqat Sultana, Zarine Aziz (C), Safia Hasan, Nadira Parveen Agha. Standing (L/R) Charmaine Hidayatullah and Shawana Yamin.

 

caption-FW-1

From left to right: Shaukat Aziz, Finance Minister; Zarine Aziz, President FWBL, S. Ali Raza, President NBP, Zakir Mehmood, President HBL at the inauguration of FWBL new head office.

 


Interviews

Ishrat Bibi

FWBL/ILO-IPEC income generation programme

Ishrat Bibi of Makki 460 (Sheikhupura) has recently availed a credit facility of Rs 10,000/. Ishrat had already owned a loom but it was not being used since some time as she had no capital to purchase inputs. This money helped her to buy wool, thread and also material to dye the wool that is dyed, dried and then used in the carpet. The carpet in picture will take about eight months to complete and will sell in the market for about Rs 175,000/- and Ishrat will save about Rs 50,000/- on this.

Faqiha Chandni

Success in small entrepreneurship

I took loans from First Women Bank Ltd four times already, so it tells you how well I'm doing. My husband is an upper division clerk (UDC) in an office but his salary is not enough to support a family of six. I got a micro credit loan easily - I really appreciated the quick and easy procedure - and I set up a stall in the CDA weekly market. My husband has a lot of experience in sales and his know-how also contributed to my success. I started with kitchen items and now I've added hosiery and clothes as well.  I'm now paying more attention to the decor of the shop to attract more customers. I recently invested Rs 16,000 to put a roof cover over our stall. I have also bought a motorbike for Rs 18,000 which brought huge savings on transport costs. It's good for both personal and business use. We even use it to carry goods. The income from the business is 50% more than my husband's salary. Since my first loan, my monthly income has increased by 140% and the return on investment is about 17%. The best thing is that we are able to cover all our needs and I am now able to spend more on my home and family."

Sajida Azhar

Making flowers into a new life

I've been in the flower business for four years. We live in a joint family as my husband had to retire from his job four years ago. After that he tried his hand at various businesses but was unsuccessful. Something had to be done as we were facing severe financial problems. So I approached First Women Bank Ltd and took a loan of 5,000/- to do my flower-making more professionally. I've been running a stall for artificial flowers in a weekly bazaar since then.

I'm the only breadwinner in a family of four dependents. But it's no longer a serious issue now. Things have improved, and after paying off the loan in time, I took a second loan of Rs 10,000/-. Things went so well that after I repaid that, I took a third loan of Rs 25,000. These have helped to greatly improve and expand my business. There's a lot of variety in my products now and I get a lot of customers. There's been a 33 per cent increase in my income, and the return on total investment has risen by 20%. I've started saving money to buy a separate house for myself and my family.

Ghulam Sakina

Small entrepreneur, Peshawar

My husband used to be the only breadwinner in our family. After he retired from Wah Factory, he started driving a cab. Then he fell seriously ill. His medical treatment cost Rs 45,000/- for which we had to sell his cab, and matters got worse. That was when I decided I had to earn for my family's survival. Our families are very traditional and strict, so my husband was absolutely against the idea. But the First Women Bank Ltd smoothed the way. The Mobile Credit Officer had held a community meeting in my locality, which I had attended. I was able to start my small business with the help of their micro credit scheme. The staff encouraged me and helped me all the way. The Bank's Programme Manager even helped to get a stall allotted to me at the weekly bazaar.

I sell children clothes, hosiery, kitchen items and decorations, and am earning a regular income and have become one of the two breadwinners in the family. It took a long time, but my husband finally admitted that we'd have been lost had I not taken this step. I've now taken a second loan of Rs 10,000/- and have recently bought another stall in the same market. FWBL's help came when I needed it most. Against all social barriers, I am now economically empowered. It has made all the difference to my family life."

First Women Franchise Post Office

Durre Shehwar Rizvi

Ionce ran a cyber cafe exclusively for women and it worked well. But I had to wind it up due to scarcity of space and was looking for a job. One day, I saw an interview of Begum Akram Khatoon, the former President of FWBL on PTV. She said that UNDP, as part of their self-employment scheme, was going to start a project for women running post-office franchises. She asked enterprising women to avail the opportunity, so I decided to try.

From filing the application to getting trained by post office staff and acquiring an office of my own, all went unbelievably smoothly. The post office opened in January 2001 and was formally inaugurated by Ms. Zarine Aziz in May. I faced no major problems, except that I had to do a lot of legwork, which of course was necessary. Guidance from the FWBL was flawless. Contrary to common negative perceptions about government departments, the post-office staff were very helpful and co-operative.

It takes many things to succeed - only sheer hard work and commitment bring long-term benefits. And family encouragement has kept me going. Sometimes I have problems due to the law and order situation. It's difficult for women in a city where there's no security. Above all, working women need to have a lot of self-confidence.

My loan was sanctioned within a month. I would say 90% of the credit for my success goes to FWBL since they provided me a base from which to move forward. They helped me to attain financial stability and economic empowerment in a dignified manner. They got me into a project which had no history of women in it. If Begum Akram Khatoon showed me the track, Zarine Aziz showed me how to walk that track. The bank staff has a share in my success because of their unflagging support.

I want FWBL to start other such unique projects for women, apart from boutiques and parlours. And they should ask the postal department to arrange refresher courses. I'm also in the printing and stationery supply business by the name of Women Traders which I want to expand. I also plan to re-launch my cyber cafe after finding bigger premises. FWBL's around to help."

 

Najma Foods

Najma Khatoon, spicing up meals

I hail from Kunri, district Umerkot, Zila Tharparkar, Sindh which is Asia's largest market for red chillies. I used to run a small general goods outlet from my home. We started this business after my husband retired from Pakistan Railways. We'd bring dry chillies from Kunri to grind and sell. One day I saw a newspaper ad of FWBL's micro credit scheme. I applied and obtained the Rs 25,000/- loan I asked for and paid it back in record time -- one year -- against repayment time allowed of two years. So when I asked for a second loan of 50,000/- they happily gave it to me.  After expenses we made a profit of about a lac and a half rupees in 2-3 years, which is a great success for a small venture." Initially, it was difficult to persuade shopkeepers to stock our products in competition with big names. But once they were satisfied, they became permanent clients. Now we have a name in the market and also advertise in the newspapers. We want to install a grinding mill and packing machine so as to expand production. Our only need is financial, which FWBL will resolve. We also want to add prepared masala mixes to our product range, such as Quorma Masala, Boti Kabab Masala, Chicken Tikka Masala, Biryani Masala as well as Siwayyian (vermicellies) under my name, next year. We hope to export to the UAE# some day. In the meantime, do please try some of our products. You'll come back for more", she said.

 

Florist

Naila Gurmani

My business is an extension of my passion for gardening and flower arrangements. I have farms in Murree and Bedian where I use both imported and local bulbs. I started a shop in Multan which did extremely well but it became difficult to run it long-distance from Lahore where I live. The local vendors gave me a hard time initially, but once I established a reputation for top quality and skill, they became more co-operative. I then opened an outlet in Lahore in 1997. I provide bouquets and flower arrangements as well as special arrangements for parties, weddings and other events. Why did I approach the FWBL? They are here especially to facilitate women, so it was an obvious choice for a businesswoman. My acquaintance with the Bank has been short but favourable. I hope to export flowers to the Middle East and European markets in the near future.

 

St. Christopher's School, Karachi

Mrs Mussarat, Principal

I used to be a primary teacher at a government school. But after suffering a severe head injury in an accident I had to retire in 1996. It became difficult to manage without a regular income. All I knew was teaching, so that led to opening St. Christopher's School in an area where it was also badly needed. It wasn't easy, as I had no help from any quarter. When I ran short of funds, someone suggested I meet with the FWBL. They were very helpful. I started with a loan of Rs 10,000/.  By the grace of God, this school, which started with only one child, now boasts three hundred. Soon after, it obtained registration as a secondary school. FWBL is the backbone of my profession -- they supported me when even my relatives would not. They boosted my tiny venture without any discrimination. It helped me to keep qualified teachers and running the school in a more professional manner. With my first FWBL loan,  I also set up a school canteen which did extremely well. The second time a loan of Rs 25,000 got me computers for my school -- which increased the enrollment. Now I plan to start a second shift. The bank is doing a great job for women, and what I have to say to defaulters is that they should repay their loans, and on time, so that more women can benefit from the bank.  I just want to expand and improve the existing structure and develop its teaching services to be as good as any other."

 

Kitchen Cuisine

Nadia Raja

I started my business from my home and used to supply local bakeries in Islamabad. To start a network in Lahore, I formed a partnership with Sadia Noon, who is based there, in 1993. Behind this success the role of FWBL has been most encouraging. It is because of the Bank's financial aid that we have been able to expand.

Today, Kitchen Cuisine's network boasts nine bakeries and two restaurants in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad. The restaurants are in Lahore and Islamabad. We now wish to expand our network by opening branches in most of the major towns and cities. We also plan to open one more branch in Karachi and one in Sialkot.

DHA Early Learning Centre

Parveen Hilaluddin, Educationist

It all begin when Defence Housing Authority established the prestigious DHA'O&A' Levels School, starting from class I going up to 'A' Levels. I felt the need for a feeder school to the main school, since a child's early years are the most important ones. Finances were needed for the project and the first bank that came to my mind was the FWBL. Ms Zarine Aziz  is very different from most bank presidents. She's accessible, cordial and receptive to new ideas. After completing all the bank formalities within a few days,  DHA Early Learning Centre was set up  where children start at age two in the play group and go up to KG II at age 6-plus and then to Class I. The two schools together now provide continual education system to children from age 2 to 18 years on the same campus - a very rare facility in Karachi. FWBL played a very major role in the success of the school project by providing loan financing right on time. It continues with prompt banking services to the school, as well as for all the staff. My future plans include setting up similar high-quality purpose-built schools in other areas of Karachi.

TANEEZ

Zeenat Saeed - Everything comes in style

It all started from a simple exhibition from my home of cushion covers, waste paper baskets, mounted paintings and lamp shades all unique and meticulously executed. The sales and the acclamations from my clients gave me the confidence to think in terms of developing it into a serious business. Later I managed to get a shop (TANEEZ) at Park Towers but was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up paying the rent. When I first approached FWBL, they were understandably cautious as it was a new venture but later decided I was a safe bet. I would say FWBL is a good judge of potential. Within three months they saw the signs of success in my business. Our sales increased by 100 per cent every year. And they continued to extend me support. Prices at TANEEZ range from Rs 300 to Rs 10,000 - so there's something to suit every pocket.  Taneez gifts are very popular at Karachi weddings. The same is with gold and silver jewellery with semi-precious stones that has received tremendous response. I hope to export them soon. I'm a style-setter and want to help people make their homes and their persona beautiful. That's the philosophy behind my business success.

 

Depilex Smileagain

 Masarrat Misbah - Restoring lost faces

Last year I introduced an NGO from my Depilex Beauty Clinic & Institute, by the name of 'Depilex Smileagain'. The NGO collaborates with the world famous Italian mission 'Smileagain'. Through this collaboration we performed number of reconstructive surgeries last year, which were done by world acclaimed foreign reconstructive surgeons. All victims were women belonging to lower income strata who could not have otherwise dreamed of getting their lost faces back, burnt from acid and kerosene.

FWBL financed and publicised the project to build the 'Burn Rehabilitation Centre' for victims of acid and kerosene burns. It provides services to victimised women in need of urgent professional medical care and reconstructive surgery.

However, we are simply one organisation and the magnitude of the problem is enormous. We cannot expect to reach each and every one of the countless victims. We need far more people to join in the cause with all the support they can possibly give.

 

Sunsilk Pivot Point

Daulat Rahimtoola - Hair and beauty expert

I have been in the beauty trade for 25 years and opened the first beauty salon in Karachi, and afterwards followed it up with "Ravissant" and "Cuts 'n' Cappucino". I've travelled far and wide to learn about the tremendous strides made in beauty care - including from Maria Gallant in Paris, Shehnaz Hussain in Mumbai and the London International School of Therapy. I learnt to make herbal products with Pandit Shankar Sharma. I produce my own line of herbal products for my clients. But it's an expensive venture and training abroad costs a lot which few can afford. In order to bring an international institute of repute here in Pakistan which is accessible to all, I approached FWBL for help. I acquired the sole distributorship of Pivot Point International Inc., a US-based organisation with branches in 50 countries that specialises in the delivery of top-quality educational systems for the hair and beauty industry. When FWBL accepted the idea, I also asked them to extend student loans for those who couldn't afford the cost. They could repay in easy installments once they started earning. The FWBL President, Ms Aziz, liked the idea and agreed. I renovated the place to PIVOT's standards.  As an international school, we automatically know of and follow international trends.

Teachers have been brought from abroad. We've started at certificate level working up to degree level. It's a new concept not confined to weddings and special occasions. It's a necessity, not a luxury,  a concept I actively promote. Some day I hope to open salons that incorporate a cafe and a library that cater to the whole woman. Awakening is a must. We keep conducting seminars with leading hairstylists of Karachi who are invited to share their expertise with our students.

 

City Textiles

Ashraf Mehmood & Zehra Ashraf: Tent manufacturers and exporters

To boost my import-export business, City Textiles (Pvt) Ltd, Lahore, I went into tent-manufacturing in 1991 because circumstances seemed to require it. Tents are needed mainly in disaster relief, as well as in war zones for soldiers and refugees alike. We are now one of the largest tent manufacturers in Pakistan. We have offices in the US, Kuwait, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

I first approached the FWBL in 1992 where we met Ms Zarine Aziz, who showed us the advantages of availing of the credit facility from the branch she was managing then. But being a man, I was not eligible unless my wife was an equal partner - that meant owning half the company. So overnight she became an actual owner too.

 

Zehra Ashraf says:

FWBL has played a very important role for us because no business can sustain or operate successfully without financial support especially with regard to foreign exchange. FWBL's decision-making has always been prompt and quick. As for the future, we are planning to diversify and branch into consumer goods. It so happens that the machinery and facilities used for tent manufacture can also produce items such as towels and denim. That way we'll use our excess production capacity. By maximising utilisation of our capacity, we'll also be diversifying risk.

 

Private Collection

Rehana Saigal -- Jewellery designer

I  wanted to break new ground in creativity. If you take fashion as a personal statement then it should be different from others because you want to express your own unique persona. The clothes and the jewellery should be compatible with one's life style. So I started designing very personal pieces exclusively for my clients. That's how PRIVATE COLLECTION, my jewellery shop, came about. PRIVATE COLLECTION makes jewellery exclusively for those who want a personal, unique collection that stand apart from the rest. We do also cater for those who like catalogue jewellery and have both conventional and modern pieces. My husband and I have very specific, separate clients, some who want to wear jewellery designed by my husband, Shakeel Saigol, and others who want my designs. These are all individual pieces, which reflect the personality of the women wearing them. We've had many exhibitions in and outside the country -- Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, USA and London and sometimes go to great fests.

We needed a credit ceiling and the experience with FWBL was encouraging. Whenever we wanted something for our shop, they extended financial support to us, but they are very meticulous in their working. Ms. Zarine Aziz is a very fine Administrator who has the ability to delegate and discern between a good person and an efficient woman. She knows how to lift standards and to set standards, both at the same time. I think FWBL needed a person with dynamism for long and they have it now in her.  I do things meticulously and in a sense the Bank reflects my style of working. But I don't think they need to be protectionist. Instead they should be more competitive. I also don't see why they can't have occasional male on their staff. If they can't find a gutsy young woman for a specific job, they should go for a young man who can. It may even put some men into their right calling. When other banks can employ women, I don't see why FWBL shouldn't employ occasional males. The bottom line is good service. The bank was tipped in Asia since Ms. Aziz took over - she's has made things move faster and better.

I bank with FWBL out of choice. When I started my business there was no women's bank in the country. In fact I was one of those seven women who proposed it, taking inspiration from Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. The idea was endorsed by the fact that women are better paymasters and more honest than men. It may appear a sweeping statement but that's my observation too. But while the government accepted our proposal, they didn't give us a stake in it ! Nevertheless, it's something a lot of women can look up to.

 


Shaukat Tarin

President, Union Bank
Chairman, PBA

Over the years, First Women Bank Limited has proved to be an excellent endeavour for providing credit facilities to women in a congenial and hospitable atmosphere. FWBL caters to the credit needs of women, especially from low and middle-income groups and thus enables them to actively participate in the economic development of the country while strengthening their own socio-economic status.

Apart from its routine banking services, the bank focuses greatly on the development of women by offering support services, a Women Business Center, Computer Literacy Centres and a Financial Service Desk for the enrichment of their skills.

I wish the FWBL the best of luck in its endeavours and hope that it will remain to be an aggressive and innovative institution for the prosperity of the Pakistan.

 

Begum Tazeen Faridi

Both personally and on behalf of the All Pakistan Women's Association, it gives us genuine pleasure to felicitate the First Women's Bank Ltd on the occasion of its anniversary.

It is really commendable that the management under your able leadership and your band of young women bankers, the Bank has preserved its dual character of its charter.

The steady increase in its reserves, stocks and profits are clear indications of the dedication of its hierarchy and the management. Its impact is felt not only in the larger cities but in all the districts of Pakistan, where women and children are to be supported and helped.

We congratulate the Bank and wish its efforts every success.

 


The CIDA-FWBL partnership

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the most prestigious developmental Agency of the world, promotes foreign aid programmes that support economic well-being, social development, governance and environmental sustainability and regeneration.

First Women Bank Ltd has been recognised by CIDA as a unique institution catering to the special needs of women in Pakistan. FWBL and CIDA have entered into a collaboration involving 3 years from the year 2003, where financial assistance for the two important directions of the Bank i.e. setting up of Financial Services Desk and Training and Capacity Building of FWBL employees.

Financial Services Desk based in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad is facilitating enterprising women's access to financial services by providing support in the areas of credit management, legal counselling, tax consultancy and marketing.

Through CIDA's assistance on Capacity Building of FWBL, a total number of 44 FWBL bankers have been trained at the Institute of Bankers Pakistan and are serving the women of Pakistan in the most effective and professional manner.

 


Executive Committee First Women Bank Limited

Ms Zarine Aziz

Chief Executive/President

Ms Charmaine Hidayatullah

EVP & Head of Legal Division

Ms Safia Hasan

EVP & Head of IT Division

Ms Shahwana Yamin

EVP, Company Secretary,

Head of SME Division

Mr Shahid Mughal

Head of Finance, Planning &

Operations 

Ms Tazeen Ahmed

Head of Corporate Finance

 


Micro credit -- The star performer at FWBL

Sabiran Bibi of Jagowala, Gujranwala has about seven acres of cultivable land on which they have cultivated rice these days. Their whole family works in the field at different phases of crop cultivation. Women's most important role is in the beginning of the cultivation and at the harvesting time. Sabiran Bibi availed a loan of Rs 5000 to purchase seeds and fertilizers for her crop. Her crop will be harvested in November. Sabiran, like many other women in rural areas of Sheikhupura and Gujranwala is thrilled by the idea of a bank that is exclusively devoted to provide services to poor women.

Samina Shafiq is a very enthusiastic young woman who is running this school with her husband in her own house. She is also teaching in ILO's NFE for carpet weaving children but in the morning she is running this school. FWBL provided her with a loan of Rs 8000 as she decided to renovate the school and purchase stationery items. She has about 200 children studying in her school.

 


NRSP-FWBL Partnership

Many want to help the poor. But often helping the poor is not an easy task. -Especially when they are scattered far and wide in the little-developed rural areas.

The idea behind the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) which was founded in late 1991, was to provide support to the organised rural poor through a countrywide network of grassroots community organisations (COs). NRSP would help them to access the resources they need which could be credit or technical assistance, or something as basic as specialised skill training.

The approach was to organise community members into small groups, and then to build their capital base at the local level. This is done through savings and credit schemes, as well as personal development, and linking communities with a range of government and non-government service delivery departments and donors.

NRSP began by extending small loans to villagers through its own limited resources. But it faced acute shortage of financial resources for its micro credit programme. Other financial institutions were reluctant to accept group surety as collateral. Since, the loan amounts required by the poor is so small, managements did not find the investment of time and effort financially worthwhile.

A different outlook was shown by First Women Bank (FWBL) which became the first institution that agreed to work with NRSP -- to meet credit requirements for women. An arrangement was made between the FWBL and NRSP, whereby the FWBL sanctioned a credit line of Rs. 10 million in 1995-96 @ 10-14 % per annum against a collateral provided by NRSP.

NRSP facilitated both the communities and the bank in the process.

The only condition was that the facility provided by the FWBL would be used for income-generating activities exclusively for women. Since the NRSP programme already had a strong gender focus, it had no difficulty with this requirement.

In 2001-2002 the credit line was increased to Rs. 210 million at the same rate. NRSP was also allowed it for additional purposes in rural and urban communities. In 2002-2003 it was reduced to Rs. 50 million as NRSP had obtained additional resources from elsewhere.

Currently the credit line of Rs. 50 million is operated from three bank accounts in NRSP's urban programme areas -- Rawalpindi, Karachi and Faisalabad. Thousands of poor and illiterate women are able to obtain micro credit from these branches.

FWBL once again proved a bonus in attracting poor women clients, already having a built-in objective for their betterment. For that very reason NRSP prefers to maintain its operational accounts for urban poor women clients with the FWBL.

 


MESSAGES

Dr. Attiya Inayatullah

Can it be true that the First Women Bank Limited has survived what can almost be called a calculated demise by its detractors ? Yes --- it is true that the First Women Bank Ltd. has not only survived as a commercial bank and development financial institution, the only one of its kind in the world, but is today a proven banking institution in Pakistan.

In this survival whilst the vision of  Shaukat Aziz, Minister for Finance & Economic Affairs and Dr Ishrat Hussain, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, is recognised, the credit must go to the FWBL team led by its President, Zarine Aziz. This indomitable woman has proven her leadership qualities, but above all it was her commitment to accept the assignment as a challenge that has brought about what is no less than a miracle.

On the 14th anniversary of FWBL, I dedicate this tribute to the many women who have benefited and there are still in millions waiting out there to be served by the Bank. We all know, and know it too well, that poverty has a female face. Pakistani women have proven that given the opportunity they have the talent in all categories of business ranging from micro to small and medium size.

I am grateful that when I was able to influence matters, I had faith in the turnaround of the Bank and conviction that Pakistan must not let this unique and specialised financial institution languish. I wish FWBL's management all success in its endeavours.

 

Akram Khatoon

Former President

First Women Bank Ltd

Ifeel elated to see the Bank rising to new heights. Leaving aside a troubled period of 1996-1997 when  the Bank encountered a forex loss and thereafter its entanglement in an enforced litigation relating to its privatisation which affected its operations adversely, the Bank has had a glorious past. Being the pioneer in micro credit and entrepreneurial skill development training programmes in Pakistan, it created employment and self-employment opportunities for women for mainstreaming women in the economic process. For furthering the cause of women, FWBL was the first to receive the prestigious "Euro Money" award in 1994 for being the Best Bank in Pakistan. I congratulate its President, Zarine Aziz (whose association with the bank has always delighted me), for making new waves in the realm of banking by achieving such excellent financial results for the years 2002 and 2003.

I pray to Allah Almighty to bestow even more success and glory to the Bank.

 

Shaheen Attiqur Rehman

MPA Punjab

H istorically speaking, FWBL was created to cater exclusively to women's banking needs. It still remains the only institution of its kind in Pakistan and in the world.

FWBL also took active part in the government's poverty alleviation programme by providing micro credit to women for starting small businesses.

The Bank achieved the highest recovery rate of 98.5%; lending cautiously and honouring only qualitative credit. FWBL has striven and worked extremely hard in creating a progressive, profit-bearing financial institution that is managed essentially by women. I commend and congratulate the President, the management and the staff for their untiring and fruit bearing efforts. It further proves the fact that women of Pakistan are more competent, enlightened and responsible in their professional fields as compared to their male counterparts. Together we have to work for a strong Pakistan aiming at to target poverty alleviation schemes. I wish Ms Zarine Aziz and her team all the best.

 

Nadira Punjwani

Chairperson

Punjwani Foundation & Trusts

The splendid performance registered by this bank in recent years and its ability to overcome challenging circumstances is a matter of immense pride for all of us. Through some very innovative strategies the bank has played a truly meaningful role in facilitating economic empowerment for women entrepreneurs and transforming their status from that of passive beneficiaries into self reliant and active agents of economic change. Women development is an integral aspect of this organisation and is being effectively promoted through introduction of enabling business practices and products tailored to the requirements of women from all social strata. Provision of free financial and legal counselling is another commendable service provided by the FWBL to its clients. I believe that the efforts and the achievements of the determined women who run this very unique banking institution deserve our wholehearted support and appreciation. May you remain constant in your commitment to women's progress.

 

Begum Salma Ahmed

President, Pakistan Association of Women Entrepreneurs

It gives me immense pleasure to congratulate President, First Women Bank Limited, Zarine Aziz, for the magnificent performance of the FWBL on the successful completion of its 14 years of service.

It is a matter of great satisfaction that this bank is heralding a bright future for our new generation of women entrepreneurs from the grassroot level to corporate levels.

I wish the Bank all the best and pray for the continuity of the Bank's performance and hope that they will achieve excellence as the years go by. Inshallah.

 


New Products of FWBL
First car

First Women Bank Ltd now offers home loans under the brand "First Home" in Pakistan. These loans would be available at a very low mark-up of 9% p.a. Women can get a loan worth Rs 7.5 million from First Women Bank Ltd.

The provision of these loans would be for buying a house/apartment, or build a house, book an apartment, or even to improve/extend an existing (self-owned) house/ apartment.

The Home Loan scheme "First Home" is aimed at to encouraging and assisting women, specifically working women, to "Own a House". These loans would be offered to all classes of working women i.e. salaried, self-employed (proprietor), professional, business (active participant/shareholder in a business).

Another great advantage that only FWBL offers is that these Home Loans can be availed singly or jointly i.e. with spouse or a male earning member of the family.

FINANCIAL SERVICES DESK

Facilitating professional women access to financial services by providing support through Financial Services Desk on credit management, Legal Advise, Taxation and Marketing. FWBL Financial Services Desk  (FSD) offers a wide range of banking and related services, specially tailored to meet the individual financing needs of Businesswomen'.

Facilitating professional women access to financial services by providing support through Financial Services Desk on credit management, Legal Advise, Taxation and Marketing. FWBL Financial Services Desk  (FSD) offers a wide range of banking and related services, specially tailored to meet the individual financing needs of Businesswomen'.

The scheme "First Car" is designed to assist women from all walks of life to conveniently avail car loan facility from the bank on low mark-up rates. The scheme is specifically designed for working women who often face problems in commuting to their workplace. They  can buy either a new car, or a second hand car at lower mark-up rates. Women can get car loans worth Rs 350,000 to Rs 1.0 million for buying new cars and Rs 150,000 to Rs 500,000 for buying second hand/used cars.

FWBL's 'First Car' offers competitive financing rates, low down payment, flexible repayment option, quick processing and insurance coverage from reputable companies.

Business loans for women

FWBL extend loans to businesswomen for establishment of new business/development of existing business, and/or for purchase of raw material or plant & machinery.

Women can get loan ranging from Rs100,000 to Rs 500,000 at 8% mark-up rate. The Financial Services Desk of the bank will assist and help the applicants of the loan on financial, legal, taxation, marketing and management issues.

Education Loans for Women

Often women are deprived of their right to pursue higher education mainly because of the financial constraints many families face. The society also does not realise that a well-educated and enlightened women will rear an equally enlightened next generation.

First Women Bank Ltd offers Education loans at a nominal mark-up rate of 8% per annum. However, the student who conforms to the merit criteria of the bank shall be given a loan @7% p.a.

 

First choice

First Women Bank Ltd proudly presents loans for buying lifestyle items  through 'First Choice' scheme. Through this scheme, women can buy TV, refrigerators, washing machines, kitchen appliances, sewing machines and other home and kitchen accessories and luxury items with the convenience of paying on a monthly installment basis.

The mark-up rate that 'First Choice' would be offering will be 0%, with 0% down payment i.e. you buy an item at showroom price with a convenience of paying back to the bank in 12 months to 3 years.

This scheme will facilitate women to buy home and kitchen appliances instantly, who they otherwise can not afford to buy due to home budgetary constraints.