Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) distributed matching grants worth Rs. 42.31 million ranging from Rs. 0.5 to Rs. 30 million among 42 SMEs of Balochistan to invigorate their existing agri businesses in recently arranged ceremonies at Khuzdar, Turbat and Quetta.
The distribution was held under the European Union (EU) funded Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) project which is implemented by International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with PPAF and FAO.
It is noteworthy that PPAF has allocated Rs. 652 million matching grants under Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) Project for the promotion of small and medium enterprises across 22 districts of Balochistan and Sindh provinces. Overall, 291 SMEs across 22 districts in Balochistan & Sindh provinces have been provided matching grants worth Rs. 459 million.
“Out of this allocation, PPAF has designated an amount of Rs. 316 million for SMEs in Balochistan. With 54 per cent women entrepreneurs, so far 157 SMEs in Balochistan have seized the opportunity to accelerate their businesses,” said Nadir Gul Barech, Acting Chief Executive Officer, PPAF. He thanked European Union and International Trade Centre (ITC) for their much-needed financing support for the project.
Nadir Gul further saidsaid, “I’m confident that GRASP project will be a game-changer as it will enable market growth in the most vulnerable areas and generate employment opportunities for the poorest communities. I’m grateful to EU and the ITC for investing in the region to improve the business environment and strengthen agricultural value chains in the target districts. GRASP will improve access to finance for agri-based SMEs and boost the trend of entrepreneurship in the far-flung areas in Balochistan.”
The size of the grants is based on the business plan shared by the SMEs and robust evaluation of the capacities of SMEs conducted under the project earlier.
Amjad Rasheed, Balochistan’s Caretaker Minister Finance & Revenue, said that this project must be scaled up across the province. He said that the government would support public-private partnership to promote SMEs, and boost national economy.
As many as 714 SMEs including 398 in Balochistan with 26 per cent women have been imparted training in financial literacy and robust business planning under GRASP’s capacity building initiative.
Jahanzeb Khan, GRASP’s Provincial Lead for Balochistan, said the matching grants recipients had set up stalls to showcase their value chain products at the events organized to distributed cheques among them. He said that the onground value chains had been a very successful business model.
GRASP, a European Union funded project for poverty reduction and sustainable inclusive economic growth in rural Pakistan is being implemented by ITC in partnership with FAO & PPAF.
Shortlisting of the grantees included partnership with the UN agencies, including UN-ITC and UN-FAO, and PPAF through leveraging upon their organisational resources to support the beneficiaries. Preference was given to progressive businesses which pitched innovative, smart, and competitive proposals.
The project is governed by three steering committees: One at the national level led by the Government of Pakistan and two at the provincial level led by the governments of Balochistan and Sindh. Key stakeholders include producers, agricultural service providers, small and medium-sized enterprises, policy makers and consumers.