KARACHI, PAKISTAN--(Marketwire - April 6, 2011) - The National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), the largest microfinance organization in Pakistan to focus on rural, agricultural markets, has launched a fully regulated, deposit-taking, privately-owned microfinance bank. The Bank has been awarded a license by the State Bank of Pakistan, the Central Bank, to operate nationwide. NRSP has partnered with Acumen Fund, International Finance Corporation and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) as shareholders in NRSP Microfinance Bank. Its mission is to reduce poverty by providing low income rural farmers with timely access to essential financial services such as crop and livestock loans on simple and affordable terms, as well as deposit products to encourage savings and to enable economic well-being.
"This $1.9 million investment is the latest in Acumen Fund's expanding Pakistan portfolio and signals our continued commitment in the country to building transformative businesses that serve the poor for the long-term," said Aun Rahman, Country Director of Acumen Fund Pakistan. "Acumen Fund continues to focus on scalable, innovative methods for providing resources, dignity and hope to the poor."
Pakistan's financial sector remains inaccessible to the majority of low income Pakistanis -- an estimated 86% of the adult population has no access to formal financial services -- but NRSP Bank is expected to reach nearly 625,000 borrowers nationwide over the next five years.
"NRSP Bank will provide access to financial services to small and poor farmers. This will enable them to mitigate against rising inflation and food prices," said Dr. Rashid Bajwa, Chairman of NRSP Bank. "It will also help those struggling farmers affected by floods to restore their livelihoods and restore hope. The Bank is poised to be the first of its kind in Pakistan and the region."
"Acumen Fund has been investing patient capital in Pakistan since 2002 in our effort to provide the critical goods and services that empower Pakistanis to improve the livelihoods of themselves and their families," said Acumen Fund CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz. "Through the expansion of NRSP, Acumen aims to improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis."
Acumen Fund is a nonprofit venture fund that invests in market-oriented approaches to deliver critical, affordable goods and services to the world's poor. Acumen Fund focuses on the convergence of philanthropic capital and business expertise to produce sustainable, scalable enterprises that reach underserved markets and increase access to the opportunities of the global economy.
Acumen Fund's work in Pakistan supports market-based approaches that provide low-income communities with access to affordable health, housing, water and energy products and services. Acumen Fund has been investing in Pakistan since 2002, with a total portfolio of more than $11 million in committed investments in enterprises focusing on livestock productivity, clean drinking water, affordable housing, micro-health insurance and drip irrigation.
Acumen Fund Pakistan is a company set up under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984, with tax exemption status.
National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) is the largest provider of microfinance services in Pakistan. The NRSP Microfinance Bank will be progressively carved-out from the NRSP's profitable micro credit operations, providing a reliable source of micro-credit at lower rates for agricultural inputs to low income farmers. The project will affect over four million rural individuals over the investment horizon, across Punjab and Sindh. The mission is to reduce the effects of poverty by giving timely access to commercially viable financial products and services to the low income masses of Pakistan.