Asasah – First MFI in Pakistan offering Branchless Banking
In the light of learning from a pilot project on Branchless Banking service methodology in its four branches, Asasah has implemented Branchless Microfinance in all branches spread from Lahore to Multan. Now all members (beneficiaries) of Asasah are being provided credit money through ATM cards and repayments are being collected through Easypaisa shops. By doing so, Asasah has become the first MFI in Pakistan serving its members through Branchless Banking system.
After successful completion of the pilot project on Branchless Banking services Asasah has implemented Branchless Banking solutions in all its 26 branches/offices. Being so, Asasah has become first Microfinance Institution in Pakistan who is offering Branchless Banking services to poor micro-entrepreneurs in the country. Now all members of Asasah are getting credit payments through ATM cards and are repaying their loans through Easypaisa shops. It is assessed that by introducing Branchless Banking method, opportunity costs of borrowers have considerable reduced, and they are feeling comfortable that once again they are being served at their door-step.
Tameer Microfinance Bank and Telenor Pakistan (a Cellular Company) are collaborating Asasash in provision of microfinance services through Branchless Banking method of money transaction.
Towards realization of this venture the State Bank of Pakistan (Central Bank) has provided support in this project so that Asasah could pilot test this venture in four of its branches.
Back in 2003, when Asasah started its microfinance operations, the organization was disbursing loan amount and collecting repayments in cash. As it grew, it was felt that cash transaction might become risky both for clients and staff. At that time Asasah introduced payments and repayments through bank. Though, this procedure avoided risk of cash embezzlement by the staff, however resulted in inconvenience and high opportunity costs for clients.
Asasah and Kobaru (a web-based fundraising organization) has signed an agreement for raising funds for poor micro-entrepreneurs (Asasah’s members) and registered the agreement with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) under its Foreign Loan Acceptance facility. According to the agreement Kobaru will provide Asasah £ 50,000 as loan fund at zero percent mark-up for Asasah’s members who are being served through its financial services.
Asasah to be PPI Certified
Asasah has recently been assessed by Grameen Foundation US as a Microfinance Institution (MFI) using Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI), a poverty measurement tool. Last year with the support of Plan International-Pakistan, Asasah had institutionalized PPI and using the tool to target poor communities to be served. Asasah is the first MFI in Pakistan who is using PPI as a poverty targeting and measurement tool. In the first week of May 2012, a representative of Grameen Foundation US visited Asasah to certify it as an institution using PPI. The representative of Grameen Foundation US spend a week with Asasah meeting the management, staff and Asasah’s members (beneficiaries) in the field. Now process of certification of Asasah a first MFI in Pakistan using Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) as targeting and measurement tool is in progress and soon certification status will be announced by Grameen Foundation US.
Awareness on Money Matters
Asasah has recently imparted 60 trainings on financial literacy to around 2400 community members in its 20 urban, semi urban and rural branches. A dedicated team of seven trained trainers on Financial Literacy conducted these trainings during May-June, 2012. This activity was a response to the Nation-wide Financial Literacy Program (FLP) that was launched by Bearing Point in collaboration with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) with the support of Asian Development Bank (ADB), wherein Asasah was one among the implementing partners.
The Nationwide Financial Literacy Program has been launched for the poor income category (USD 75-300 income per month) with the aim of creating awareness about money matters; touching upon subjects of budgeting, saving, investment, debt management, introduction and role of financial institutions and consumer protectionism.
KIVA has awarded Asasah 6 Badges of Social Performance Strength after conducting social performance assessment of the organization
Social Performance Audit conducted
Plan International Pakistan in collaboration with Cerise International has conducted Social Performance Audit of Asasah using SPI tool developed by Cerise. Plan’s team led by its Microfinance Advisor, Plan Asia and Livelihoods Advisor audited Asasah’s documents and processes and procedures to assess how well Asasah is Socially Performing. This exercise was conducted in February 2012.
Asasah’s Clients’ Protection Assessed
Plan International Pakistan’s team led by international consultant conducted Clients Protection Assessment of Asasah during the second week of June 2012. The team spent one week with Asasah and met with Asasah’s members (beneficiaries) and staff of three randomly picked branches. At the end of the exercise, Plan’s team shared the results of the Clients’ Protection status in Asasah citing its strengths and areas of improvements. Soon Plan Pakistan will be sharing Asasah Clients’ Protection Report.
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