SAMN regional conference 2014 kicks off in Islamabad
Islamabad: Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister Planning, Development and Reforms, on Monday inaugurated the two-day SAMN regional conference titled “Banking the South Asia’s Half Billion unbanked” at a local hotel in Islamabad.
Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Alok Prasad, Chairperson, South Asian Microfinance Network (SAMN) and other dignitaries graced the inauguration ceremony with their presence. The Chief Guest, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal while addressing the ceremony, said that he was pleased to see the august gathering of the learned leaders and experts from the South Asian countries in the conference. He emphasized the need of a conducive environment for talks and mutual cooperation among the said countries.
“In order to transform all “UN’s” including “unemployment, uneducated, unhoused, unhappy, unhealthy etc., we need to work atthe grassroots level for inclusive growth and sustainability. “Our vision is very clear and we will be working with more enthusiasm on inclusion with growth”, he remarked. He commended the efforts of SAMN and Pakistan Microfinance Network for the said conference for knowledge sharing and learning. He vowed to extend his cooperation for strengthening microfinance sector.
Ashraf Mahmood Wathra said that in Pakistan, the Central Bank has been providing a conducive environment in which the microfinance sector thrives. He said that SBP has focused on fostering partnership and encouraging diversity. Extolling the efforts of SAMN and PMN, he said that knowledge sharing practices should be continued to prosper South Asia. Syed Nadeem Hussain, Pakistan Microfinance Network, formally welcomed the guests and audience. He stated the importance of microfinance and its dire need in the developing economies across South Asia. Alok Prasad, Chairperson, SAMN briefed the guests and audience with the introduction and objectives of the conference. He said that it was his due pleasure to have such “thought leaders” at a common platform to promote cross learning, facilitate investment floats and share best practices. Nadeem Lodhi, the CCO and MD, Citibank N.A Pakistan spoke on the occasion and said that efforts for strengthening the microfinance institutions must be a priority and he said that luckily Pakistan is considered laboratory of innovative branchless banking – with technology being considered the “game changer” in the sector. He vowed to continue supporting the microfinance banking sector in the country.
Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO PPAF, while addressing the conference said that such conferences give hope to alter the least integrated status of the region to a well-integrated association. He said that the investment in the country in the microfinance sector is appreciable as in the years 2013 and 2014, Pakistan was rated as the third best country in this regard. He added that for the inclusion of the marginalized segments of society, intuitions can play their role with passion, knowledge and action.
The inauguration ceremony of the conference ended with the presentation of plaques to the Chief Guest and vote of thanks by Syed Nadeem Hussain, Chairperson, Pakistan Microfinance Network.