Islamabad, March 20, 2018: Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) and National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to lay out and agree on the broad framework of “Business Incubation for Self-employment” (BISE) Programme for graduation of BISP beneficiaries across Pakistan.
The programme is financed by (Asian Development Bank) ADB under Social Protection Development Project, which is to be followed by signing of Service Level Agreement (SLA) for the BISE Programme.
The first phase of the US$35 Million BISE Programme shall be implemented over two years from April 2018 as further specified in the SLA by NRSP as implementing agency. Chairperson BISP MNA Marvi Memon stated that the programme was envisaged in 2015 and it took three years to launch this initiative. She thanked the Secretary BISP and his team for their unequivocal efforts and further added that,
“BISP must continue this programme.”
The ADB and the Government of Pakistan mutually agreed to include NRSP as an “implementing agency” responsible for carrying out the “Business Incubation and Inclusive Business Components” of the BISP Graduation Program (BGP) on the terms and conditions to be agreed between BISP and NRSP and duly endorsed by ADB. The said project has also been endorsed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
While opening the meeting, Secretary BISP Mr. Omar Hamid Khan welcomed the guests and termed the partnership as “significant and momentous” for the vulnerable segments of society across Pakistan. He hoped that the partnership will benefit the BISP beneficiaries in unique ways in the years to come.
BISE aims at making poor people ready for taking up viable self-employment. The program will target a total of 100,000 households in total 5 districts including Bahawalpur, Charsadda, Jacobabad, Kech and Nasirabad. The selected beneficiaries shall be competent to be self-employed and show their willingness to be part of the graduation program.
Director General ADB Mr. Werner Liepach said, “We consider ourselves as partners, not donors.”
He said that the partnership between BISP and ADB started with support for the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) segment only. He added that US$400 million were initially given to BISP to increase the number of BISP beneficiaries. Mr. Werner appreciated the efforts of BISP and said that he was happy to see that the programme is moving towards its second phase of graduating beneficiaries. He further added that the flow of funds will not be a problem as the program progresses.
The key features of BISE programme comprise of profiling and validation of targeted households on their potential for self-employment. It includes social mobilisation and capacity building specific technical skill trainings and business development support, Income Generating Grants (IGGs), access to working capital through Community Investment Fund, business coaching through developing their capacities in asset and business management, numeracy and functional literacy and linkages development. It also includes insurance of beneficiaries against accidental death, hospitalisation and disability risks, linking up the poor to the value chains of small and large companies in the private sector.
Ms. Xiaohong Yong, Country Director ADB added that BISP is rapidly implementing the graduation model and termed it as “light at the end of tunnel.” One of the major aspects include an agreement with the selected BISP beneficiary that UCT shall continue for only 1-2 years to provide protection against risks, thus, successfully graduating the BISP beneficiary out of poverty. Mr. Rashid Bajwa, CEO NRSP hoped that this partnership will have a long-term impact on the lives of poor across the country.
At the ceremony, Professor Reema Hanna, who is part of MIT-Harvard-LSE research team, stated that the graduation model is being tested around the world to eradicate poverty. She hoped that the BISP’s graduation model could offer field learning. She further added, “We’ve a real opportunity here as we can utilize this learning at global scale.”