Jeddah, 9 March 2023
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), jointly with the Islamic Development Bank, (IsDB) and Akhuwat Foundation organized a Seminar on Akhuwat Business Model for Microfinance Intervention and Economic Empowerment in the OIC Member States, at the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah, today, March 9, 2023.
During the joint Opening Session, H.E. Dr. Ahmad Kawesa Sengendo, OIC Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs delivered his speech to the audience.
Dr. Sengendo pointed out that the Seminar was intended to give an opportunity to the participants to share their experiences and views on the current sector challenges and opportunities, as well as expectations and predictions about future trends in microfinance and economic empowerment.
He said that poverty remains one of the biggest challenges to socio-economic development of the majority of OIC Member States, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, adding that unemployment, especially among youths, was as high as 38% in some OIC Member States where Millions live in abject poverty lacking basic human needs.
Dr. Sengendo stressed that overcoming poverty, for many poor people in OIC countries, mainly depends on self-employment through microenterprises.
He explained that the OIC and its relevant institutions have initiated several microfinance and economic empowerment development programmes.
Amir Bukvic the IsDB Ag. Director General of Global Practices and Partnerships during his opening remark mentioned that the traditional approach is exposed to over-indebtedness, especially in these times of multiple crisis, if no appropriate non-financial services are also provided.
He stressed that it was necessary to have financial services accompanied with profitable projects opportunities, affordable supporting infrastructure, proper capacity building, access to relevant and attractive markets, and appropriate technological solutions.
Therefore, the IsDB Economic Empowerment Approach is very timely for adoption and further acceleration to the mainstream business of microfinance of the OIC Member States.
In order to meet the demand of poor people for financial services, Dr. Sengendo noted that microfinance institutions (MFIs) have emerged in several OIC Member States. He cited the example of the Akhuwat Islamic Microfinance (AIM), which has been operating in Pakistan since 2001 with the objective of providing interest-free microfinance to marginalized members of the society to enhance their standards of living and enable them to improve their livelihoods.
The ASG expressed his appreciation to the (AIM) which offered to share with OIC Member States its experience. He commended the IsDB for its valuable contributions to the organization of the Seminar which was held in line with the relevant resolution of the 48th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held in Islamabad, Pakistan, in March 2022.
The experts from IsDB comprising Dr Nabil Ghalleb, Mohd Yusri Yusof, Mohammad Dodin, Lagassane Ouattara and Mohamed Mazen Dakhli also shared their valuable experiences based on their approach to economic empowerment of various groups of people in OIC Member States.
The Seminar was chaired by H.E Ambassador Fawad Sher, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in his capacity as the Chair of the 48th CFM, and was attended by participants from OIC Member States and relevant institutions.