KARACHI - The First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) will increase the network of its branches as well as products very soon, announced FWBL CEO and President Shafqat Sultana. She was addressing the launching of FWBLs corporate documentary film titled, FWBL - The Icon of Womens Economic Empowerment, held at local hotel on Friday. The documentary carrying comments of the beneficiary women of bank and leading women from various sectors, made in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Higher Education Commission Chairperson Shehnaz Wazir Ali presided over the ceremony while National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) Chairperson Dr Nafisa Shah was chief guest on the occasion. In her welcome address, the FWBL president recalled the 19 years successful history of bank and said that the bank is the worlds only bank designed, managed and run by the women, and also set up for women in 1989 by the Islamic worlds women premier Benazir Bhutto Shaheed. She further said that the FWBL was the first commercial bank to launch micro credit in Pakistan, while today bank has the best outreach to women with lowest mark-up rate between 14 to 16 percent for micro borrowers. At present, the bank has a network of 38 branches in 23 districts of the country, while it has no any set up in the rural areas, she said. She also clarified that banks services have been made available in a number of villages through various NGOs and banks own mobile credit officers. However, she announced that the branches as well as products would be increased in the near future. The lowest paid-up capital, sole dependence on limited internal resources generated through profits are our major challenge to compete in a tough competitive scenario and pose serious threat to the bank for meeting its restructuring needs. She hoped that the government would support the bank in three core areas equity, restructuring and delisting of privatisation to bring the bank on strong footings. The HEC chairperson and the NCHD chairperson also spoke on the occasion. RAMZAN CHANDIO