The United Kingdom through Karandaaz’s Risk Participation Facility with Meezan Bank, Pakistan’s first and largest Islamic bank is financing the development and production of a High Flow Nasal Oxygen (HFNO) device, which can also be used as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, by Alsons Group, Pakistan’s premier precision engineering company. Karandaaz, funded by the United Kingdom’s Office of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), has established a USD 50 million financing programme with Meezan Bank, which enables vendors and distributors of participating corporates and other eligible SMEs access to finance.
The HFNO device is very important for hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients with lung infections and also other serious respiratory diseases and has been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), to help manage oxygen levels. The device is currently in the prototype production phase and commercial production is expected to begin by the end of this month. Alsons is also working to indigenously design and develop a ventilator, which once approved, will be locally in production in the near future.
Annabel Gerry, Country Director Development, British High Commission in Pakistan, said, “Pakistan’s response to the COVID-19 challenge has been commendable. The United Kingdom is pleased to be supporting Pakistan in its effort to tackle the pandemic. Our financing assistance through Karandaaz to support breathing devices will be an important element in easing the burden of serious disease in the country.”
Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz, said, “With more than 300,000 cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan and well over 25.6 million globally, the demand for breathing devices and ventilators has grown exponentially. This pioneering capacity enhancement by Alsons, as they have started producing breathing devices will help Pakistan meet its domestic demand for critical medical equipment and will also open an avenue for exports in a highly lucrative international markets.”
Navid Goraya, CIO Karandaaz said, “PKR 50 million financings under the Risk Participation Agreement with Meezan Bank will support Alsons financial requirement for capacity enhancement to produce ventilators for both local and export markets. The financing is well aligned with Karandaaz’s focus on the demonstration of sustainable investment models and job creation in Pakistan.”
Ariful Islam, Deputy CEO of Meezan Bank said, “Meezan Bank is committed to supporting organizations that are working to tackle the impact of Covid-19. We believe that this financing will help alleviate some of the pressures on the country’s healthcare sector. We are thankful to Karandaaz Pakistan for enhancing their partnership so the Bank could materialise this as a priority.”
Abdul Rehman Allana, Chairman Alsons Group said, “Alsons has over 65 years of manufacturing experience in the machining of mechanical components from bars, plates, forgings and castings; and CNC plastic injection moulding, stamping, and assemblies in the fields of hi-tech engineering, aerospace, automotive, oil & gas, and power and energy. We already had capital from Karandaaz and Meezan Bank risk participation facility injected into our auto parts manufacturing unit. With this new investment, we are able to diversify in the medical equipment domain and are proud that we are playing a role in helping battle the pandemic.”
According to GlobalData, a data and analytics company that specializes in the medical transaction and clinical information, about 880,000 ventilators are required globally amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the world has faced an acute shortage of essential medical supplies, especially ventilators that are used to pump oxygen into the lungs of patients experiencing breathing difficulties.
To meet the financing gap in the medical supplies and equipment manufacturing sector in Pakistan, the State Bank of Pakistan has also expanded the scope of the Refinance Facility to Combat Covid-19 (RFCC) to the manufacturing sector producing medical equipment and accessories. Karandaaz is also focusing to specifically mitigate the financing needs of medical, diagnostic, and pharmaceutical industries in the country and through direct investment in Excel Labs to carry out an estimated 500 tests daily and more than 10,000 tests a month.