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Hardship and struggle often act as catalysts for people to understand their true strengths and reach their full potential. Hailing from the heart of suburban Faisalabad, a lower-middle-class woman – Balqees – triumphed over several personal, financial, and social hurdles to become an independent, self-reliant, and empowered member of society.

Balqees, now aged 56, lives a humble life with her husband, five daughters, and two sons – one of whom has special needs. Her husband is employed at a nearby factory and struggles to make ends meet on a meager wage with ever-rising inflation rates factored in. In addition to their existing financial troubles, the culminating social pressure to marry off their daughters pushed Balqees towards exploring entrepreneurial avenues that could help generate more income for the family of 9.

Her drive towards lending a helping hand to her husband did not deter as she faced a myriad of challenges, both personal and socio-normative. One of the key limitations for Balqees was her limited knowledge of business dealings as she had been a housewife for most of her life. Despite that, she pushed on and learned as much as she could as quickly as possible so she could help facilitate a better standard of living for her family.

Balqees struck a balance between her home life and her business ambitions by deciding to open up a small corner store. However, she lacked the required capital to put her plan into action. At this critical juncture, Balqees came to learn about Mobilink Microfinance Bank (MMBL)'s diverse product range specifically designed to cater to the needs of small business owners and budding entrepreneurs such as herself. She approached the bank for financial assistance and with the help of an officer from MMBL, she was able to attain the funds that she needed to kickstart her business. The store turned out to be an ideal setup because it allowed her to stay close to her family while adding value to her neighborhood and earning her way to a more comfortable life.

Despite having limited experience with financial dealings in the past, Balqees received her loan quite seamlessly through the bank’s convenient digital ecosystem and, in a matter of days, her store was rented, stocked, and ready for opening.

Five years later, Balqees’ store is a success. The neighbors rely on her for their daily grocery needs and through the combined efforts of Balqees and her husband, they have happily married off three of their five daughters and are now availing quality medical care facilities for their differently-abled son.

Balqees’ appreciation for MMBL has only grown throughout her relationship with the bank and she is currently in the 5th loan cycle, steadily expanding her operations to cater to a stock new and greater number of products in her store.

"Our lives have changed.”, said Balqees when asked about MMBL’s impact on her family, “None of this would’ve been possible without the bank. MMBL brings financial services to people like us, who can genuinely benefit from them. They make acquiring funds simple, swift, and convenient. The most important thing is that the services are always customized to fit the customer’s needs. I look forward to growing my business in the future with MMBL support.

Like Balqees’ corner store, Mobilink Microfinance Bank uplifts millions of small and medium-sized business ventures situated in urban as well as rural settings. Investing in SMEs through flexible and accessible financial services is a significant stimulant to enhance the socio-economic landscape of Pakistan. The bank uses its diverse product portfolio and ever-evolving digital ecosystem to facilitate all income groups, particularly those on the lower end. Its digital capabilities lend a unique advantage to MMBL which anchors its position in the industry as the largest digital bank in the country.

The Financial empowerment of women is central to realizing their rights and conforming to gender equality. It is certain that economic development cannot be attained without women’s contribution to society, as they comprise almost half of Pakistan's overall population. According to World Bank, Pakistan has the world’s lowermost rate of women’s entrepreneurship with only 1% of female entrepreneurs compared to 21% of males.

Given such dismal indicators, it should be the prime priority of financial institutions to take effective steps for including women in the financial landscape of Pakistan. Under its flagship program, Women Inspirational Network (WIN), MMBL aims at further strengthening the base for enhancing gender parity across the board and promote women entrepreneurs by further broadening the portfolio of its female-centric products. The bank prides itself on aligning its operations with SBP& draft policy- Banking on Equality and continues on its mission of serving the unserved.

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