Giving women the power to succeed
First Women Bank Ltd., both a commercial bank and DFI designed, managed and run by women, for women, was set up in 1989 by the Islamic world’s first woman Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (Shaheed) who envisioned a bank that would meet the special needs of women entrepreneurs. Currently, the Bank is headed by Mrs. Shafqat Sultana, who took over as President in May 2009.
The FWBL model caters to women at all levels of economic activity – micro, small, medium and corporate. Most importantly, the Bank provides women with the support services required to navigate the obstacles to the development of business. By doing so, FWBL is helping them emerge as key players in the national and global economy.
The Bank has always looked at its micro-finance borrowers as potential SME and Corporate clients. The Bank’s unique credit policies promote asset ownership for women, by providing financing to business entities:
- Where women have 50% shareholding
- Where a woman is the Managing Director
- Where women employees are 50% or more
However, the Bank seeks deposits from and provides services to both genders.
In 1992, an ILO Geneva Study recognized First Women Bank Ltd. as a major innovation in Pakistan, along with Edhi Trust and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). In 1994, Euro money awarded FWBL the Best Bank in Pakistan for its low administrative cost.
FWBL was the first Commercial Bank to launch Micro Credit in Pakistan. In 2001, Women’s World Banking in its Global Directory profiled FWBL for Banking Innovation in Microfinance, and acknowledged that FWBL features among the world’s micro-finance leaders.
To combat child labour in the carpet weaving industry, FWBL collaborated with ILO and directly financed women micro-borrowers in rural areas. The Bank disbursed micro-credit to 2921 women living below the poverty line in 162 villages, with 100% recovery rate. Under this project 5842 children were weaned out from child labour and educated through non-formal educational centers.
The Asian Banking Award 2005 awarded First Women Bank Limited, FWBL / ILO – IPEC Micro Credit Programme as Runners-Up in its Micro-Finance Programme category. Under this project, one of the borrowers received the Global Micro Entrepreneurship Award (Runners-up) organized by the UN Capital Development Fund in collaboration with CITI Group Foundation, Harvard Business School and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund.
In Pakistan, when compared with other countries of the world, female entrepreneurship is amongst the lowest in the world. With very low female participation in the economy of the country, the percentage of female employers is even less than one percent. The issues stems from the statistical invisibility of women. There’s very little research on the market itself, primarily because women are just not considered a market worth tapping into on their own.
Even at the macro level, there are very few people working to empower women as a special interest group. This is mainly because no extensive research or study has been done so far on women’s economic role.
Realizing the importance of research, FWBL commissioned SPDC to conduct a Market Assessment Study for First Women Bank. The study gave surprising results and revealed that Credit demand of women in five big cities of the country ranged between Rs. 261 Billion to Rs. 285 Billion.
Since its inception, FWBL has contributed substantially in raising a sizeable body of women entrepreneurs and banking professionals in the country. For example, the total proportion of women bankers in the commercial banks is around 10% of the total bankers, which was less than 1% around 23 years ago.
FWBL is fully committed to the goal of realizing the potential of women as active participants in the economic development of Pakistan by facilitating their access to entrepreneurial activities and formal employment. Recently the bank has set up an Entrepreneurship Development Division at Head office, Karachi and three Business Development & Training Centers are functioning in Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad. To enhance women’s entrepreneurial capability FWBL has signed MOUs with SMEDA, NIDA, Textile Institute of Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, Department of Youth Affairs Government of Sindh, UNIDO, Allama Iqbal Open University and Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In 2011 the Aurat Foundation awarded a grant of Rs. 13.8 million to FWBL under the Gender Equity Programme (GEP) supported by USAID for a period of two years. To date, 400 women have successfully participated in the trainings offered at BD & TC Karachi and Lahore Centers.
FWBL ATM card with Multiple Benefit
In order to provide multiple benefits to customers the bank has collaborated with top brands including Oxford University Press, KFC, Stile, Singer and Depilex. Now FWBL ATM card holders can get discounts on their purchases.
Corporate Social Responsibility
FWBL has always looked out for the best interest of the women of Pakistan. From economic empowerment to financial assistance, FWBL has always put women at the forefronts of their efforts. Taking another step towards the well being of the women of Pakistan, FWBL has joined hands with Pink Ribbon Pakistan to promote the noble objective of Pink Ribbon Pakistan in providing cancer awareness among women.
FWBL in Public Sector
FWBL was formed with shareholdings from all the large public sector banks. Over time, these banks were privatized; however, their shares in FWBL were not transferred to the public sector. In 2009, the Government of Pakistan decided to keep First Women Bank Ltd. (FWBL) in the public sector by purchasing the shares of private shareholder banks i.e. MCB, HBL, ABL and UBL through State Bank of Pakistan. An amount of Rs. 800 million was budgeted in connection with the injection of additional equity by the Government of Pakistan to First Women Bank Limited (Out of Rs. 800 Million 600 million has been injected). In light of this decision the majority of shares (96%) are owned by the Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan and National Bank of Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan vides its letter No. F. 4(1) –DS (BR-II)/ 2000-556 dated November 4, 2011 has exempted FWBL from the application of the Office Memorandum No. F.4. (1)/2000-BR-II, dated 12 November 2002. Under the said office Memo, Government laid down certain requirements to be complied with by public sector enterprises and local/autonomous bodies while depositing their working balances for their operations with any public or private bank.
Brand of the Year 2010 & 2011
FWBL initiatives for the empowerment of women were recognized at all levels and the bank received the “Brand of the year award 2010 & 2011” in the category of women banking.
“The bank is also live on SWIFT to transfer funds internationally. At present, the Bank has a network of 41 branches in 24 cities of Pakistan.”
Today, FWBL’s mission for empowering women remains unmatched.
“To transform the status of women from passive beneficiaries of social services to dynamic agents of change.”
Mrs. Shafqat Sultana
President / CEO / Chairperson
First Women Bank Limited
The President, CEO and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of First Women Bank Ltd., Mrs. Shafqat Sultana, is a prudent banker and achiever par excellence. Mrs. Sultana has about 36 years of banking service to her credit, out of which, she has dedicated 20 long years to First Women Bank Ltd.
She was appointed as the President of First Women Bank Ltd. in the year 2009. Soon after taking charge, Mrs. Sultana made every effort to restore the public sector status of the bank. In the same year, she succeeded in her mission when the Government decided to keep FWBL as a public sector bank.
Having done her Masters in Political Science from the University of Peshawar, Shafqat Sultana started her banking career as an officer at United Bank Ltd. in 1975. She was designated the first Lady Manager at PC branch Rawalpindi in 1988.
She joined First Women Bank Ltd in 1990 as a Branch Manager in AVP cadre, and was awarded the best Branch Manager award for two consecutive years. Besides this, she used her expertise in training & development of women entrepreneurs and served as the National Project Director-Women in Urban Credit, a joint project of UNDP and FWBL. She was eventually promoted to the rank of EVP in 2002 and then President of the Bank.
She has been a key speaker on numerous national and international forums and has addressed in the Senate and Parliament on women socio economic concerns.
Mrs. Shafqat has been the recipient of Best Sector Executive Award, Excellence Award from Laurels of honor 2009, Woman of the year Award – 2009, Lifetime Achievement Award – 2010 and Wonder Woman of the year Award 2011 etc. She also holds to her credit many publications as well.
Recently Newsweek Pakistan included her name in the list of top 100 women who shake Pakistan.
Head of Legal & Security, & Stationery / EVP
Ms. Charmaine Hidayatullah joined the First Women Bank Ltd in 1989 as Legal Advisor and Chief of Legal Department. She also remained Federal Nominee Director of FWBL from 1991 to 1994. In 1994 she was promoted to the cadre of SVP, since then she held several important portfolios such as Member of Executive Committee, Head of Business Centre, Head of Security Department, Head of Publicity and Public Relations and Head of Human Resources Department. She plays the key role in recovery of stuck-up finances of the Bank through Court and negotiations with defaulting Borrowers/ Judgment Debtors, Syndicate Financing, and matters pertaining to legal operations of the bank.
She has done her Masters in Law from S. M. Law College, Karachi and specializes in Company Law. She started her career as a practicing Lawyer in Civil and High Courts of Sindh where she conducted several independent cases related to Banking, Corporate and Civil Law in the Courts and Banking Tribunals. She served as Legal Advisor for various domestic and foreign companies. Since 1981, she is also the Vice President Status of Women of United Nations Section of all Pakistan Women Association. She has also served as Honorary General Secretary of Pakistan Red Crescent Society appointed by Government of Pakistan.
Head of International Division & Company Secretary
Mr. Mohammad Khalid joined the bank in August 2010 as Treasurer, bringing with him more than fourteen years rich experience and expertise of Treasury & Investments, Debt and Asset Management of banks and financial institutions in Pakistan.
His last assignment was with Vector Group in Investment Advisory Board as a consultant and Investment Strategist. Before this he has served IGI Investment Bank as EVP/Head Treasury Management and SME Bank as SVP / Head Treasury Division. He started his career from Treasury Group of National Bank of Pakistan and got enormous exposure due to its innate largest book size in Pakistan in respect of Treasury activities and investment banking projects as special assignments. Moving to Pak-Kuwait Investment Company as a Dealing Unit Head and ALCO Secretary, he boosted up company’s earnings significantly within a year. He remained quite instrumental at United Bank’s Treasury & Capital Markets Group engaged in portfolio management, interest rate trading, and derivative hedging and liquidity management making UBL Treasury as one of two major market makers in the interbank market. He also rendered his service to UBL Fund Managers as Head Funds Management and to a group of Saudi Arabia as a Fund Manager for its investments in Pakistan.
By qualification he is an MBA from IBA, University of Karachi, diplomaed Associate of Institute of Bankers in Pakistan and Oracle Certified Financial Applications Consultant from Oracle Corporation.
Head of Risk Management
Ms. Naushaba Shahzad, Head of Risk Management has diversified banking experience. She is also heading the Financial Services Desk.
She has diversified and successful Banking experience of 18 years with First Women Bank limited. She is the only executive of FWBL who has been awarded “Best Executive of the Year award” thrice for her extra ordinary performance. Also she was awarded the “Best Employee of the Year” award in 2001. She has a distinguished academic career, has done her Master of Science in Statistics and stood first in the university, was awarded a Gold Medal by Punjab University. An outstanding student throughout her academic career, she was also given the “National Youth Talent Appreciation Award.”
CFO/Head of Finance & Planning
Ms. Kauser Safdar is an Associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), and Institute of Public Accountants of Pakistan (APA). She has also studied with Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) – UK.
As Chief Financial Officer, Ms. Safdar brings diverse financial and business experience to the First Women Bank Limited. Along with her conventional roles of managing budgeting, financial and business planning, interfacing with the financial community and industry regulators, she plays an important role in key initiatives being taken by the Bank. She is a part of various management committees of the Bank.
Prior to joining FWBL, Ms. Safdar worked for United Bank Limited in various capacities including, Head of Financial & SBP Reporting, Financial Controller for Retail Banking Group, Islamic Banking Division, Asset Management Group, and Investment Banking Division, Head of end service benefits and a Trustee of UBL Employee Funds. She has also been the CFO of UBL Funds Manager, a leading mutual fund of the country.
She takes keen interest in Islamic banking, and scored distinction in the Islamic banking training of NIBAF – SBP. She has also served as Head of UBL Ameen -Islamic Banking Division of UBL.
Head of Credit
SVP/ Head of Marketing, PR / Spokesperson & Women Entrepreneurship Development
Ms. Shaheen Zamir is the Head of Marketing, PR, and Women Entrepreneurship Development. She is also the spokesperson of the Bank. Masters in Commerce and Masters in Business Administration (Marketing) and qualified from the Institute of Bankers Pakistan, she has a rich experience in the field of Marketing & PR, Business Development, Women Development , HR and Management.
She started her career as an officer with FWBL and on the basis of her outstanding performance; in 2009 she was designated as Head of Marketing & PR. In 2011 Women Entrepreneurship Development was established by the bank and she became the first Head of the Division. She is also the project Head of FWBL –Gender Equity Program funded by USAID.
Ms. Zamir is known as a “proactive executive”, team builder and tactical planner with the ability to attract and secure key players in building strong and lasting business relationships. She has been instrumental in getting Bank’s international and national recognitions such as the Global Micro Entrepreneurship Award 2005, Brands of the Year Award 2011 & 2012, Consumer Choice Award and FPCCI Achievement Award 2012-2013.
She has also been the recipient of FWBL Employee of the year Award 2002, Working Lady Award 2003 by Tareen Publications, for which she was nominated by the President FWBL, FWBL Young Leader Award 2005, FWBL Executive of the Year Award 2007, Star Award (South Asia Publications) etc. in her professional career.
Besides this, she has been a distinguished PTV Newscaster, PBC Broadcaster, DJ of FM 101 and high profile Award Winning Compere.
She enjoys the unique distinction of conducting various prestigious programs chaired by Prime Ministers and Federal Minister of Pakistan, Governors and other dignitaries. She got numerous awards, trophies, gold medals and commendation certificates for her brilliant performance.
Off. Head HR
Off. Head of Information Technology
Ms. Fauzia Sohail joined FWBL in Sept 2011 as the Deputy Head of Information Technology. A graduate from FAST-NU, she brings with her 18+ years of in-depth experience in Software Applications and Management of Information Systems. Her diverse exposure in technology spans multiple industries, with roles at various senior capacities. Most recently, as a member of the local team at the leading Core Banking Systems vendor in the international market, Fidelity Information Systems (USA), she had been playing a crucial role in their solution implementation at the nation’s largest bank, National Bank of Pakistan. Ms. Sohail has a passion for technology, being a staunch believer that IT is an enabler in business. With expertise in Data Driven ventures, she has led various Bank-Level Data Migration and Data Management initiatives, with significant contributions in molding the IT landscape in the realm of Banking.
With her all rounded experience in the domain of technology, Ms. Sohail is playing a crucial role in strengthening the overall IT functions at the bank, extending beyond ensuring information security, data accuracy and timely availability of information that would facilitate better decision making, to streamlining IT Support and Operations, while leveraging and building upon the existing investments made by the bank in Core Banking, Networking and Communications Infrastructure, to enhance the service quality standards and reach to bank’s customer base via multiple delivery channels.
Head of Audit & Inspection
Ms. Mehwish Khan heads FWBL Internal Audit Department, and reports to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. She is a Certified Chartered Account (ACCA) from UK, holds a Bachelor in Applied Economics from the University of Oxford Brookes at UK, and is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) from USA.
Ms. Khan has nearly 8 years of experience in Bank Audit and assurance with global audit firms and one of the country’s largest commercial banks. Prior to her current role, she served at Allied Bank where apart from audit, she contributed effectively towards development of Risk Review teams covering various business lines. She was also recognized for revising ABL’s Audit Manual introducing therein Risk Based Audit Techniques. As Incharge of Internal Audit Division at First Women Bank Ltd, she is concerned with attaining optimal internal controls, best of class risk based audit practices, positive and constructive audit approach, high compliance standards, and a demonstrably superior ethical behavior tradition within the organization.
Ms. Zarina Sial joined First Women Bank Ltd., in March 1996. Currently she is heading Compliance Division and liaison with SBP. She is also a member of IT Steering Committee and Chairperson of Compliance Committee.
Ms. Sial completed DAIBP in the year 2000. She has more than 16 years experience in Branch Banking Management. Ms. Sial set up the Compliance Division in FWBL in the year 2010 by developing manuals, procedures at Head Office and Regional level. She is proficient in planning and developing strategies, evaluating control guidelines, analyzing organizations critical support requirements.