Okara, August 24, 2021: Muhammad Khan from Basirpur, Okara appears to be an ordinary farmer at first glance but his life story is dotted with extraordinary feats of valor, strength, and perseverance. He led a simple life, working at a textile mill in Phool Nagar that earned him a decent livelihood, until the day an unfortunate incident turned his life upside down. He was working on a textile machine when his left hand got caught in it and was gravely injured. The severity of the injury and the widespread infection forced the doctors to amputate his left hand, leaving Muhammad handicapped for the rest of his life.
The factory owners, thinking that Muhammad was of no use to them, fired him on a day’s notice, leaving him with no source of income. Despite these traumatic circumstances, Muhammad Khan did not lose hope and decided to continue working despite his apparent disability.
He returned to Basirpur and soon after a bit of recovery, he decided to cultivate his 4 acres of ancestral farmland to earn a livelihood. Unfortunately, he lacked the financial resources to cultivate the land and purchase agricultural assets like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, etc. He turned to private lenders in his village to borrow money from them, only to end up bearing heavy interest rates and the condition of sharing the entire yield and profits. He was offered financial support but the lenders would not leave any opportunity to exploit him by abruptly resetting the terms of engagement or buying his crops at far lower rates than the market price, sometimes getting them free of cost.
Muhammad was resentful but helpless through this unfortunate state of affairs. That is why he started looking for other options until one fateful day, he found the answer. A representative of Pakistan’s largest digital bank, Mobilink Microfinance Bank Limited (MMBL) introduced him to the bank’s ‘Khushhal Kissan Loan’, which was designed with low markup rates and easy installments to support farmers like Muhammad and their agricultural enterprises.
He applied for the loan through the bank’s simple and convenient digital procedure and within no time, it was approved and disbursed. Muhammad Khan purchased the required agricultural resources and proceeded to cultivate his land. Luck favored him that season as his land bore plentiful yield and he sold the produce on his terms while earning handsome profits. He was overjoyed as he could now easily pay the loan installments and would still be left with enough money to meet his family’s needs.
Muhammad Khan worked day and night and due to his hard work and determination, his next cycle was even more lucrative. The success further fueled Muhammad Khan’s ambition and he strived harder. Owing to his natural business acumen, he built strategic relations at the local market and garnered a positive reputation for his respectability and hard work.
As his business expanded and profits racked, he turned towards benefitting other community members by employing helpers in his fields. His family now had enough money to afford a better standard of life, health, and education, and most of all they were all happy and content.
“I could not believe how life changed its course”, Muhammad Khan said. “However, just when I thought it was unkind and I was on the verge of losing everything, things changed and I was able to sustain myself again with the support of MMBL. While everyone else exploited my vulnerability, MMBL enabled and empowered me to change my life and those of my family members. I am truly grateful and going on, there is no looking back.”
The agriculture sector contributes about 24% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounts for half of the employed labor force in Pakistan. Moreover, as per the recent statistics from the World Bank, the unemployment rate in Pakistan is at approximately 4.7%. This calls for interventions from the microfinance banks and institutions to promote opportunities of fostering financial stability and growth for all, particularly for women, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), and any other marginalized segments of the society.
Muhammad Khan and his family are now living a prosperous and comfortable life because MMBL lent them a hand when they needed it the most. Mobilink Microfinance Bank has been ushering greater enablement to farmers, small and medium business owners, and entrepreneurs by providing access to capital as well as customized financial literacy training. The bank has a wide array of customized products and services designed to fulfill the constantly evolving needs of different segments and catalyze a socio-economic transformation at the grassroots level of society.