As Citi Pakistan marks its 50th year in the country (1961-2011), it celebrates its commitment to corporate citizenship, through the completion of a three year Citi Network Strengthening programme (CNSP) (2007-2010), in conjunction with SEEP and the Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN).
The Citi Network Strengthening Program was a three year initiative funded by the Citi Foundation in partnership with 12 global network associations. Collectively the networks added 300 members, 18 million clients and $14 billion to their portfolios. This program is the first and largest investment of its kind, designed to build the critical infrastructure of the microfinance sector.
The overall aim of the Citi Foundation – National SEEP Network (CNSP) partnership was to increase the capacity and scale of the microfinance sector, as well as to enhance the environment for the provision of microfinance globally, through investing in twelve national and regional microfinance associations (including the Pakistan Microfinance Network), approximately 1,489 MFIs and microfinance organization members, and more than 53 million clients with a loan portfolio of over $11.4 million. Specifically, the programme aimed to strengthen the networks’ capacity to achieve the following objectives: provide demand driven services to member microfinance institutions, become influential rep¬resentatives on behalf of the microfinance sector and develop the industry in general.
Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Microfinance & Community Development said, ‘The Citi Network Strengthening Programme has played a defining role in the development of the microfinance sector in Pakistan. During my recent visit to Pakistan for the Citi Micro Entrepreneurship Awards,; I had the opportunity to meet with the Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN ) seniors and members in Islamabad. Through this partnership, PMN has expanded its contributions to the sector, including its valuable research on key issues and by being a key driver in the development of a microfinance credit bureau in Pakistan. Such an initiative is an industry first in Pakistan and will go a long way in impacting client and microfinance institutions behavior and their code of conduct.
Arif Usmani, Country Officer, Citi Pakistan said, ‘Our partnership with PMN has resulted in developing the network as a vital body that aims to enhance capacity building within the microfinance industry in Pakistan. Amongst other initiatives, we have collaborated on the development of an online performance review system in Pakistan, which has now been adopted as a best practice by Sanabel in the Middle East/North Africa region and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines. We are currently partnering with PMN for a client education media campaign to improve borrower ethics and behavior. Finally, through additional Citi Foundation funding this year, we are collaborating on producing crisis management and risk mitigation research (in the aftermath of the floods), as a blueprint to be used for disaster management by the global microfinance sector.’
This partnership also played a crucial role during the recent floods in Pakistan, which left one fifth of the country’s land mass under water. The Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN) immediately surveyed all of its members and compiled a registry of all the branches and clients of its members that had been affected by the floods. With this information PMN and its mem¬bers developed a coordinated response plan that they sent to donors and inves¬tors.
"I don’t think we could have done this without the support we had from Citi Foundation" said Syed Mohsin Ahmed, CEO of the Pakistan Microfi¬nance Network. ‘With this support we were able to improve our data systems so we already had branch level data from all our members. We used this data to improve our influence with donors and government lead¬ers. When the crisis came we were able to use the system we had built and the relationships we had to deliver a quick response. The result was that, for the first time, microfinance institutions were included as part of the government’s response to a crisis.'
Finally, the involvement of Citi employees in the program has been critical to its success. Citi employees have contributed in a variety of ways, including providing thought leadership, supporting roundtables/ workshops and developing media relations to highlight the successes of the programme. Most importantly, Citi’s senior management engagement with the PMN resulted in the leveraging of existing relationships from the mainstream financial services landscape, which helped PMN to develop strategic partnerships and public sector linkages for the microfinance industry. As Citi Pakistan completes 50 years in the country, it continues to focus on developing microfinance as a tool for financial inclusion in the community through a series of programs based on Citi Foundation funding.
Citi, the leading global financial services company, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 140 countries. Through Citicorp and Citi Holdings, Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. Additional information may be found at www.Citigroup.com or www.Citi.com
About the Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of low- to moderate-income individuals and families in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving to priority focus areas: Microfinance, Enterprise Development, College Success, and Financial Capability and Asset Building. In the United States, the Citi Foundation also supports Neighborhood Revitalization programs. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance, Enterprise Development, and Neighborhood Revitalization to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at www.citifoundation.com
About the SEEP Network
The SEEP Network connects microenterprise practitioners from around the world to develop practical guidance and tools, build capacity, and help set standards to advance our common vision: a sustainable income in every household. Our members are active in over 180 countries and reach over 23 million micro-entrepreneurs and their families. This exchange utilizes problem solving, experimentation, and peer-to-peer learning in order to identify common obstacles and develop solutions for reducing poverty.