ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and Pakistan Microfinance Network have jointly launched an initiative called the MicroEYE to map the competitive environment of micro finance markets in the country.

According to a press release issued here on Friday, the initiative was launched at a local hotel in Islamabad in a ceremony attended by PPAF’s CEO Qazi Azmat Isa, PMN’s Chairman Dr Rashid Bajwa and CEO Syed Mohsin Ahmed among other senior officials of both the organizations. Also present were representatives of State Bank of Pakistan, UKAID, KfW and PMN member MFPs.

MicroEYE is a tool that allows users to assess the competitive situation in any geographical area located in Pakistan. The aim of this project is to identify the geographical locations of all Micro Finance Providers (MFPs) branches and related information.

In Pakistan, multiple borrowing of micro finance clients has remained a hotly debated topic, as it is seen as one potential cause for over-indebtedness. Access to multiple loans precedes multiple borrowing: only those people that can access several MFPs also have the opportunity to take out multiple loans at the same time. Understanding the competitive environment therefore is a precondition for understanding the “opportunity space” that borrowers face and the resulting danger of over-indebtedness in a specific micro finance market. Qazi Azmat Isa gave his heartiest congratulations to PMN and the team that made MicoEYE possible. He said, “This tool helps us identify where our interventions are most needed”. Syed Mohsin Ahmed said, “The development of MicroEYE was made possible by the continued support of PPAF and UKAID and was part of PMN’s efforts to serve the needs of the micro finance sector.”

Moshin also thanked SBP, IFC, Citi and other stakeholders for their support. MicroEYE will allow the stakeholders to assess the competitive situation in their specific markets, for varying reasons as MFPs are primarily interested in strategically planning the expansion of their branch network, avoiding areas that are already intensively served by their competitors.

Additionally, the tool will allow for adding a layer of population density, potential market, etc. which will enable the MFPs to identify how many people face which market structures. This will also help them understand the potential for over-indebtedness by having information on how many people have access to several MFPs at the same time. This tool could be further developed to enable MFPs to input their branches’ data, said the press release.