Financial services are important for women who are starting and growing a business, but in Pakistan microfinance providers (MFPs) are not reaching Pakistan’s businesswomen. Only 59 percent of microfinance clients are women, yet the majority of these loans are passed on the male members of the household – husbands, fathers, and sons. The practice of passing on loans to male household members is quite widespread; women may be bearing all the transaction costs and risks of accessing loans, but are not the final beneficiaries. Second, a very low proportion of female microfinance clients are entrepreneurs. The report explores why businesswomen in Pakistan may not be using microfinance products to meet their start-up and working capital requirements, in spite of identifying access to finance as a key constraint to their business operations.
Against this backdrop, access to finance remains the biggest challenge for a woman who wants to start or grow a business. Yet less than a quarter of the entrepreneurs identified through business development service providers were currently borrowing from microfinance lenders. Even among those entrepreneurs that borrow, dissatisfaction is high. Why?