Lahore, February 28: World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) organized a one-day capacity building and focus group discussion session on ‘Green Financing for SMEs in Pakistan: Challenges, Opportunities and Way Forward’ at a local hotel.
The aim of the session was to bridge the gap between SMEs and financial institutions so that enterprises have an opportunity to access finances for investing in environmentally friendly technologies. Environmental compliance by the textile and leather SMEs is pivotal for growth in Pakistani exports in the international market. Compliance with environmental standards is an essential requirement to meet Sustainable Development Goals and maintain the GSP Plus status.
Access to finance is a major impediment for SMEs, which intend to become compliant to environmental standards. They cannot invest in environment friendly technology unless they are supported through green financing opportunities, which can be provided by different financial institutions.
Mudassar Ali Khan, Assistant Chief Manager, State Bank of Pakistan briefed participants about the Green Banking Initiative of the State Bank of Pakistan. He explained the key features of SBP’s Green Banking Guidelines and SBP’s Refinance Scheme for Renewable Energy. He stated that the State Bank issued an Islamic version of SBP’s Refinance Scheme just a few days ago. Further, Khan urged banks and industry participants to take advantage of subsidized financing for installation of renewable energy projects/ solutions of up to one MW for their own use as well as supply to distribution companies under NEPRA’s Net Metering Regulations.
Sohail Ali Naqvi, Manager Freshwater Programme, WWF Pakistan said, ‘Pakistan’s economy can tread the path of sustainable development if more resource efficient technologies and business models are encouraged for SMEs. Green financing is an opportunity for implementing environmental initiatives and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The financial sector has a pivotal role to play in this regard and WWF-Pakistan wishes to bridge the gap between financial institutions and SMEs for green financing and assist them in identifying potential areas of resource efficiency with business cases.’
Participants concluded that green financing opportunities are the need of the hour and can help industries become resource efficient and environment friendly. Sheikh Nisar Ahmed, Vice President, SME Bank Ltd; Khawaja Laeeq Ahmed, Branch Manager SME Bank; Khalid Mahmood, Chief Green Banking, Allied Bank Ltd and many others participated in the one-day session.