The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $20 million loan to help Pakistan’s Khushhali Microfinance Bank (KMBL) to expand access to credit for agriculture-related borrowers and small businesses.

“Agriculture and small business are critical sectors in Pakistan’s economy that play a significant role in job creation and poverty reduction,” said Ms Christine Engstrom, Director of ADB’s Private Sector Financial Institutions Division.

“ADB’s assistance will help support KMBL’s goal to improve financial inclusion to these sectors through their extensive expertise and outreach to un-derserved populations.”

The ADB assistance will help KMBL to increase the provision of financial services to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) from 5,700 today to over 30,000 by 2020.

Women are expected to comprise up to 25% of loan recipients. A separate technical assistance program will support the establishment of a MSME training academy as well as investments in Khushhali Microfinance Bank’s “technology up gradation” program.

“ADB’s support will deepen the market penetration of KMBL into the rural economy and enhance access to small businesses vital to economic growth and prosperity, says Ghalib Nishtar, President of KMBL.

Access to finance in Pakistan is limited, with only 24% of the adult population having a bank account with a formal financial institution, while MSMEs face difficulty securing financing from the banking sector.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reduce poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.