Bank Alfalah and Acumen Launch Program: “Eradicating Poverty through Entrepreneurship in Pakistan”

Bank Alfalah and Acumen have partnered to launch a program entitled ‘Eradicating Poverty through Entrepreneurship in Pakistan’, based on a $40,000 grant from the Bank. The signing ceremony took place in Karachi today and was attended by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen, and Atif Bajwa, CEO of Bank Alfalah amongst others. With a view to impacting sustainable development, this is likely to become a multi-year program, based on impact assessment at the end of the first year of the project.

As part of this program, Bank Alfalah will be providing multi-pronged support to Acumen’s investee companies, with the aim of positively impacting poverty alleviation. Bank Alfalah’s leadership team will be providing real time technical volunteer support in their respective areas of expertise, by conducting a needs-gap analysis for Acumen’s investee companies, as well as targeted funding for Acumen’s investee companies to address key business challenges. The investee companies selected for this project include Pharmagen, a company which provides access to safe drinking water in urban areas; MicroDrip, a company that distributes low-cost drip irrigation technology to small-holder farmers; and SRE Solutions, which installs off-grid solar energy systems in rural communities.

Some of the potential areas of intervention in supporting these growing social enterprises could include sales, brand and marketing, technology, finance, customer relationship management and human resource management. As these social enterprises expand, the selected investee companies will be able to increase their impact on poverty alleviation by providing essential goods and services for low-income communities. The program will conclude with a joint conference to share results, success stories and lessons from the collaboration.

Addressing the audience at the signing ceremony, Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen said, “We are excited to partner with Bank Alfalah to support some of the most promising social enterprises in the region. This collaboration is an opportunity for shared learning around what is needed to build local businesses that serve low income customers and we are hopeful this work will translate into substantial impact for communities across Pakistan.”

Speaking about the program, Bank Alfalah’s Chief Executive Officer, Atif Bajwa said “Bank Alfalah, through its ‘Beyond Philanthropy’ approach, has continuously attempted to strike a balance between its business objectives, whilst remaining cognizant of its responsibilities towards the communities where we live and operate. We are optimistic that this latest collaboration with Acumen holds tremendous potential to impact the groups hardest hit by poverty in Pakistan; further, we are particularly excited with the prospect of our senior management volunteering time to assist Acumen’s investee companies to improve efficiency and delivery. Given Acumen’s demonstrated expertise in the fields of entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation, we are confident that this program will help us play a small part in creating an ecosystem which seeks to address chronic socio-economic issues in the country.”

Responsible Finance and Sustainability are key agenda priorities for Bank Alfalah. The Bank aims to work with community partners and improve peoples’ lives by going ‘beyond philanthropy’ and converting simple ideas into opportunities. The Bank’s two-pronged social governance approach incorporates financial investment towards meaningful community causes coupled with employee volunteer programs in order to create measurable, sustainable impact.

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