KARACHI - The First Micro Finance Bank Ltd Pakistan (FMFB-P) and the Pakistan Post Office (PPO) renewed their agreement to alleviate poverty by reaching out to the poor populations of Pakistan by providing micro-finance services through PPO sub offices. Aimed at addressing the key challenge of inaccessibility to the poor faced by the micro-finance industry across the globe, this unique public-private partnership between PPO and FMFB was initiated in 2008 and has allowed for rapid scaling up of quality micro-finance services to the very poor populations residing in remote rural and urban areas of Pakistan. President The First Micro Finance Bank Hussain Tejany and Additional Director General Financial Services, Pakistan Post Ghulam Panjtan Rizvi signed the agreement for reaching out to the poor segment of the country particularly in the rural unbank areas of Sindh and Punjab, under the approval of the State Bank of Pakistan. Muhammad Ahmed Mian, Director General Pakistan Post and Federal Secretary Pakistan Post were also present at the occasion. Our partnership with the Pakistan Post, which has an extensive network of Sub Offices (SO) across Pakistan, has enabled FMFB to reach out to the remote and vulnerable poor by providing microfinance services through 68 PPO Sub Offices in Southern Punjab, Central Punjab, Upper Sindh and Lower Sindh regions, disbursing over 88,000 loans amounting to Rs 1.3 billion across the country in 2009 said Hussain Tejany, President FMFB. Given that 71pc of the poor in Pakistan are women, about 21pc of loans disbursed were to women entrepreneurs. He added that the Bank has also been able to maintain the quality of its portfolio through the SO network, which has given us the confidence to take this partnership forward and expand our operations through the PPO network in the next three years. Our areas of intervention will continue to be the poverty focused areas of Sindh and Punjab. This unique public-private partnership has marked a major breakthrough in the microfinance sector and is bringing The First Micro Finance Bank Ltd closer to its clientele, while Pakistan Post benefits from optimum utilisation and development of its resources, including human capital. The First Micro Finance Bank Ltd, a part of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM), is a premier, non-commercial, private sector Microfinance Bank licensed by the State Bank of Pakistan. FMFB has been ranked as 7th among the top 100 Micro-finance Institutions of the world by the World Bank affiliate, CGAP.