LAHORE: The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) has successfully completed the exclusive project implemented with the assistance of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for economic recovery in 29 districts of Pakistan, which were badly affected by the devastating flood in 2010, according to a statement on Friday.
Addressing a ceremony held to celebrate successful closure of the project, Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, chief executive officer of Smeda, said that the project since its start in July 2011 has provided grants worth Rs189.9 million to 11,928 individuals and 116 organisations for restoration of their enterprises and livelihoods.
Dr Nasir Khan Ghauri, general manager, Business and Sector Development Division and Khurram Khan, general manager, Central Support Division of Smeda, accompanied him on the occasion. The event was attended by a large number of beneficiaries and the participating organisations of the project, said statement.
The Smeda chief executive officer expressed gratitude to the officials of the United Nations Development Programme for arranging the required amount of funds for this project through the European Union, it said.
A presentation run by Smeda on the performance of the project revealed that a grant worth Rs30,000 per enterprise was provided to entrepreneurs from the key value chains important for overall economic development of the areas affected by the flood.
The businesses engaged in trade of agriculture and livestock inputs, processing of local materials and marketing of produce were given top priority. Grants enabled selected entrepreneurs to stabilise their businesses and play their due role in supporting economic activity, providing requisite goods and services, it said.
A total of 2,709 enterprises were given grant worth Rs81.50 million under Smeda-ER project, it said.
Realising the importance of home-based income generating activities, there was a special focus on enterprising women supporting their families. Grant worth Rs38 million was disbursed to 3,106 women engaged in micro food processing, micro farming and needle craft, according to the statement.
Financial aid has given these women hope and they are confident that they can make a positive contribution to the income generation for their household, said Smeda CEO, adding that Rs43 million of the grant component were dedicated for the segment of the society who cannot help themselves. Widows, elderly, orphans and marginalised individuals were identified on the basis of poverty score and provided with Rs7,120 each, creating opportunities for micro investments. He said that more than 6,000 individuals benefited from this grant component.
Disbursement of cash grants of Rs163 million to around 12,000 people was a big achievement for this project but for the people who suffered financial and emotional devastation in the worst national disaster; this is just a drop in the ocean, he said.
They are looking forward to additional support and facilitation for a more inclusive economic development.
Local communities of the project locations have been mobilised not only to take active part in identification and execution of economic development interventions but have also been organised in the form of community welfare and development organisations (CWDOs). These 29 community welfare and development organisations have been provided formalisation support through legal experts and training programmes.
Community welfare and development organisations are taking ownership of the development interventions, as Smeda-ER has phased out with the completion of the project.
ER project beneficiaries have agreed to make monthly contribution of Rs300 per grantee to CWDO for community development activities. Funds collected through this contribution, in a bank account opened in the name of the organisation, are spent in accordance with the bylaws, he said.
Khokhar said that legal experts were engaged to support formalization / registration of these organisations with respective social welfare departments. These local organisations are expected to generate Rs22 million through contributions from the grant beneficiaries within two years.
Social enterprises, local NGOs and service providers working in the flood-affected areas have been engaged to build their capacities for better service delivery to the target beneficiaries.
After going through an extensive capacity building programme and on-site mentoring support, 87 local NGOs have come together in the form of LEDN.PK, Pakistan’s first network for supporting micro business and livelihood activities in the flood-affected districts, he said.
Participating organisations have carried out at least one community support activity as a pre-condition for registration with the LEDN.PK, he said, adding that a group of 20 grantees have been mobilised and engaged by the project team to setup an industrial home at each project location. With more than 560 women engaged, 28 industrial homes were set up across Pakistan, he added.