By: Intikhab Amir
PESHAWAR: More than 1,600 women entrepreneurs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, mostly from Peshawar district, have so far benefited from the Rs1 billion Bacha Khan Khpal Rozgar (self-employment) scheme, availing themselves of more than Rs148 million interest-free loans, Dawn has learnt.
An official source here that the number of women entrepreneurs was likely to grow over the next few months, adding that a large sum of money was available with the provincial loan disbursement agency for them.
He said around 2,300 women entrepreneurs from across the province applied for loan but around 700 of them could not qualify to get it chiefly due to quota system on the basis of which money was being lent.
The source said over Rs93 million was released to over 1,000 women entrepreneurs by the end of the last month, adding that the applications of other successful businesswomen were being processed for disbursement of loan.
The scheme was launched in February last year to encourage jobless youth, both boys and girls, and the disabled jobless to become economically productive by availing the interest free loan facility. April 30 was the last date for filing applications after which scrutiny of candidates and verification of their documents was carried out.
Thirty per cent of the Rs1 billion loan has been specified for the women entrepreneurs, two percent for the disabled jobless, and the remaining for the intending businessmen or the existing ones in need of equity. Small businessmen, women entrepreneurs, and jobless youth of all 25 districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are eligible to apply for loan ranging between Rs20,000 and Rs100,000.
Each district has been earmarked a specific amount out of the Rs1 billion loan. The fund allocation has been made to the districts in accordance with their share under the Provincial Finance Commission award meant for transferring monetary resources to the districts from the province.
The source said women entrepreneurs from Chitral showed an overwhelming response, surpassing many districts more developed than this land-locked mountainous northern district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Some 365 businesswomen from Chitral applied for the loan and only 79 got selected, availing a total lending of Rs6.5 million.
“The others could not have been financed this year, because we have already exhausted the funds meant for Chitral,” said a provincial government official. Most of those who availed the facility are involved in the embroidery business or are running house based small businesses and general stores in few instances.
Peshawar district is another place where the scheme attracted a good number of businesswomen. Some 381 women entrepreneurs sought loan for small businesses, including embroidery, stitching, beauty parlors, and hair salons. The applications of over 290 candidates were approved involving a total lending of over Rs27 million.
In Battagram, Kohistan, and Tank, equity meant for businesswomen is lying unutilised due to poor response to the scheme. Only six women, two from each district, applied for loan.
The rules do not allow diversion of the said money to other districts.