UNIDO launches a micro-financing scheme for Small Businesses

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD:  United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) organized a virtual launch event of the Renewable energy investment support program for small businesses and micro enterprises, under GEF funded project “Sustainable Energy Initiative for Industries in Pakistan”. The program is being executed in collaboration with National Rural Support Program (NRSP) and will help to increase access to finance for clean and green productive solutions.

Chief Guest Mr. Shah Jahan Mirza, CEO Alternative Energy Development Board, in his key note remarks appreciated the efforts of UNIDO and NRSP and said “this economically viable initiative by UNIDO aiming at smaller enterprises and poorer communities for sustainability through affordable renewable energy solutions will boost the rural economy of Pakistan”. He also opined ”since taking national grids to remote areas is expensive, this scheme will provide easy access to affordable and reliable energy solutions in these areas.”

Dr Rashid Bajwa, CEO NRSP, in his remarks said “In Pakistan this kind of zero interest loan scheme is being carried out for the first of time in terms of renewable energy. This blended finance based RE micro financing program will initially benefit about 400 persons whereby providing an opportunity to small businesses to make productive use of Renewable Energy technology solutions for income generation. We will reach our targets on a sound footing at a high frequency”.

Earlier in her welcome remarks, Ms. Nadia Aftab, UNIDO Country Representative, shared her thoughts “Several renewable technologies have emerged with economically viable and environmentally friendly options which if suitably adopted can meet energy needs of industry particularly for small enterprises. With the funding from the Global Environment Facility, UNIDO has setup a precedent for how renewable energy solutions can enhance MSME’s for income generation and value addition, especially for women owned enterprises. When we stress on economic development and SDGs, energy must be used to promote productive uses to create jobs and more income generating opportunities for communities.  The larger impact of this project is contributing in achieving the SDGs.”

Later in the technical sessions, the technical teams from NRSP and UNIDO highlighted key components of the project. The presenters informed the audience about this unique initiative from UNIDO which intended to utilize the GEF grants to provide interest free loans to beneficiaries for procurement and installation of Renewable Energy projects along with post installation maintenance support. The program will be implemented in 48 districts across Punjab and Sindh provinces providing access to clean, reliable and affordable Renewable Energy based solutions to small businesses, farmers and women owned micro enterprises.  The program in affect would not only contribute in reducing GHG emission in rural and agro-sectors but would step forward towards providing sustainable livelihoods to rural and marginalized communities. In the session, types of RE technologies and available solutions in the market along with their application were showcased. It was attended by representatives from public sector, donors, representatives from NRSP district offices and beneficiaries including smallholding farmers and local renewable energy solution providers.