Whilst not one of Pakistan’s largest banks, JS Bank is one of the country’s fastest-growing financial institutions for sure. The bank, in the past few years, has done and achieved enough to build value for customers and communities in Pakistan while reflecting the country’s growing stature in the international financial space.
Speaking volumes of it are JS Bank’s latest achievements at the Asiamoney Awards 2020.
JS Bank bagged the prestigious ‘Best Bank for SMEs’ and ‘Best Bank for CSR’ awards at the Asiamoney Awards 2020. This is the second consecutive year that the Bank was chosen as the winner of the ‘Best Bank for SMEs’ award.
Weak and insufficient financing has plagued the growth of the SME sector in Pakistan for years.
The number of small and medium enterprises in Pakistan is about 4 million, constituting more than 90% of the country’s economic establishments. SMEs in Pakistan account for 30% of GDP, generate 78% of non-agri employment and contribute 25% of manufactured goods exports.
Despite these vital contributions, the crucial sector suffers from limited access to formal credit. Banks are more interested in lending organizations with more viable financial health to ensure repayments and returns with little or no focus on serving the SME sector.
JS Bank is changing that and the coveted ‘Best Bank for SMEs’ for the second year running is proof of that. The Bank is in the top three by size in Pakistan when it comes to lending to small and medium-sized enterprises.
As of December 2019, the commercial bank had nearly 22,000 SME clients. Admittedly, lending to SMEs declined marginally to Rs42.7 billion ($277 million) as many of its customers grew enough to cross the SME threshold, but the firm made up for that by adding more than 5,500 new SMEs to its client roster in 2019.
The Bank also puts great emphasis on small enterprises led by women, financing more than 2,000 of such businesses and launching a business loan specifically for women entrepreneurs last year. It has also set its sights on supporting differently-abled people in business by introducing a new loan facility.
“We want to hit Rs59 billion in SME lending by the end of 2020, and Rs70 billion next year,” said Basir Shamsie, CEO JS Bank. “We also plan to boost our trade business further to add more SME customers, something we started in November 2019.”
In terms of CSR too, the last year was big for JS Bank. “First, we became Pakistan’s first and only financial institution to be accredited by the Green Climate Fund which makes us eligible for funding of up to $250 million per project,” said Basir Shamsie.
“Secondly, we became fully compliant with the State Bank of Pakistan’s green banking guidelines, establishing an internal environmental and social risk management framework to create awareness around those risks associated with lending. And thirdly, we took a lead in Pakistan’s solar power market, financing more than 120 projects for commercial, residential and agricultural purposes,” he added.
JS Bank is championing corporate social responsibility in other ways too. Besides being Pakistan’s only bank to have a certified green office, JS Bank has implemented significant carbon reduction measures in its operations.
From smart energy management to an increase in the use of solar power and automation of processes, the Bank is leaving no stone unturned to stay socially responsible and keep contributing to Pakistan’s socioeconomic progress.
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