QUETTA: Forty two small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector of Balochistan were on Saturday provided Rs27 million to uplift their business potential under a project of European Union.

Balochistan’s acting governor Mir Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali distributed the cheques among the enterprises based in Quetta, Pishin, Noshki, Kharan, Khuzdar, Lasbela, Panjgur, Kech, Zhob and Musakhel.

The distribution was held under the European Union-funded Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) project, implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The grants vary from Rs500,000 to Rs2.5m based on the business plans shared by the SMEs and evaluation carried out under the project.

Grants ranging between Rs500,000 and Rs2.5m given to small and medium enterprises in 10 districts

Addressing the ceremony, Mr Jamali said the provincial government was committed to uplifting the living standard of citizens and wanted them to stand on their own feet.

“The provincial government believes that all efforts aimed at contributing to this cause need to be encouraged at every level,” he said and hoped that the Rs27m grants would play a pivotal role in promoting agribusinesses and spur socio-economic development in Balochistan.

Nadir Gul Barech, chief operating officer at the PPAF, told participants the Fund was working in 10 districts of Balochistan “to enable market growth in the most vulnerable areas and create jobs for the poorest communities”.

He appreciated the European Union and the ITC for investing in the region to improve the business environment and strengthen agricultural value chains in the districts.

He hoped the GRASP project would improve access to finance for agri-based SMEs and boost the trend of entrepreneurship in the far-flung areas of Balochistan.

Roshan Khursheed Bharucha, the PPAF’s chairperson and a former senator, was also confident that the project would bring a positive change in the respective communities and revolutionise the agriculture sector in the province.

GRASP Provincial Lead for Balochistan Jahanzeb Khan noted that small and medium enterprises made up the bulk of businesses in Pakistan and, therefore, they must grow and create jobs for the increasing workforce to achieve broad, sustainable economic growth.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2022

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