LAHORE: Queen Maxima of the Netherlands on Wednesday laid stress on women’s economic empowerment to end poverty in Pakistan.
“The digital financial services in Pakistan should support housewives and other women in Pakistan to set up small home-based industries and businesses,” said Queen Maxima while talking to small merchants during her visit to Ghalib Market, Gulberg.
As United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Queen Maxima personally met shopkeepers, who benefited from micro-finance, to learn more about how its digital financial services solutions could support financial inclusion.
She also stressed the importance of technology to bring diverse financial services to the excluded.
Queen Maxima was inspired by the success story of Mohammad Abid Islam, who ran a small general store in Ghalib Market. Mr Islam told the queen that he had been suffering from huge financial losses when he benefited from a unique collaboration between a multinational company and a financial technology company which digitized his supply chain, credit, payments and financing services.
Dutch queen says digital financial services in Pakistan should support housewives to set up home-based businesses
Queen Maxima also met a 48-year-old housewife/beautician, Sofia Bibi, who came from very low-income family with limited education. “I am very happy. When you invest in a woman, you invest in the whole family,” Queen Maxima said.
Sofia told the queen how she benefited from a mobile application. She shared her experience receiving her earnings on a mobile wallet and how it gave her control over her money.
The visit to Ghalib Market was part of the Queen Maxima’s three-day trip to Pakistan to support efforts to enhance access to and responsible usage of financial services that improve people’s financial and economic lives.
Briefing Queen Maxima, Umer Munawwar said: “SMEs are the backbone of any growing economy, yet their access to credit remains dismal. Digital financial services serve the unbanked and under-banked helping them win, compete and grow through cheaper, quicker and efficient lending solutions.”
APP adds: Queen Maxima also visited Bykea, a Pakistani company providing mobile application- based services for transportation, logistics and cash on delivery payments. She interacted with a group of Bykea users and appreciated the success stories, profiling and approaches to the concept. The group members apprised Queen Maxima of their experiences, expertise and financial inclusion with Bykea.
Earlier, Bykea Pakistan chief executive officer Muneeb Maayr and its employees accorded a warm welcome to Queen Maxima on her arrival and briefed her on the vision, performance, evaluation criteria and social impacts of the company. The Bykea employees and clients clicked a group picture with the queen on the occasion.
Queen Maxima also visited Teez Financial Services, a financial technology (fintech) startup, which was an instant small amount loan provider for short term through its mobile application to its subscribers.
The next stop was a merchant shop powered by Finja, a financial technology (fintech) startup, where she was given a briefing on the usage of digital technology for financing small businesses by Finja co-founder and chief executive officer Qasif Shahid.
Queen Maxima appreciated the idea of the company which was financing more than 700 small merchants in the city. The shopkeepers and Finja staff also clicked a group picture with Queen Maxima.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2019