The largest bank in Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited (HBL) has taken steps to shift towards a “technology company with a banking license”. Earlier this year HBL signed a partnership agreement with Katalyst Labs to enable females to be part of the senior hierarchy. Katalyst Labs is an innovation hub, and a technology accelerator program that has helped to build the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Pakistan.
The partnership will enable Katalyst Labs to develop and run a cohort-based fellowship program for women entrepreneurs, professionals, and upcoming business leaders to train them and help them develop into a high-powered network of women leaders across the country. The acceleration program will also be run to have an increased focus on facilitating collaboration between start-ups and corporates for knowledge sharing and market exploration with a special focus on Fintech, Food & Agri Tech, eCommerce, EdTech, Health Tech, and other verticals.
Founder and CEO of Katalyst Labs, said Jehan Ara, commented on the partnership,
“When ecosystem builders like ourselves want to continue to support and enable dreamers and innovators who are out to conquer the world through the use of tech, we look to partners who can help us realise our vision. And we have never had to look far because HBL has always been the first to understand what we are trying to do and provide their full support. This partnership with Katalyst Labs is further proof of this unflinching and continuing support”
HBL also became the first Pakistani bank to invest in a digital fintech start-up by investing Rs. 176 million (US$ 1.15 million) in the last tranche of Finja’s Rs. 1.56 billion (US$ 10.15 million) Series A1 round. The Bank joined an impressive list of leading global fintech funds that have invested in Finja including BeeNext, Vostok Emerging Finance, Quona Capital, and ICU Ventures.
Qasif Shahid, CEO, and Co-Founder of Finja stated,
“Undoubtedly, HBL’s financial clout, massive network, and progressive leadership will help us elevate the country’s most important segment, the SMEs”
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President, and CEO of HBL, commented on the occasion,
“Pakistan’s fintech landscape has immense opportunities. At HBL we believe that by making this investment we are not only developing the start-up ecosystem, but it will also pave the way for Pakistan to play a bigger role in the fintech space globally. SME lending is the future and therefore we are investing in Finja which enjoys a first mover advantage over the market in digitally lending to SMEs in this country.”
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