Aga Khan Agency for Micro Finance
Aga Khan Agency for Micro Finance
Since its establishment in 2005, the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) has taken over 25 years of microfinance activities, programmes and banks that were administered by sister agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network. The underlying objectives of the Agency are to reduce poverty, diminish the vulnerability of poor populations and alleviate economic and social exclusion.
AKAM is a not-for-profit, non-denominational, international development agency created under Swiss law. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board is His Highness the Aga Khan.
The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) is part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). For more than 60 years, various agencies of the AKDN offered microfinance products and services through integrated development programmes and self-standing microfinance institutions. Today, these programmes have been brought together under AKAM administration, but AKAM still works closely with the other AKDN agencies as part of coordinated area development programmes.
AKAMs primary objectives are to reduce poverty, diminish the vulnerability of poor populations and alleviate economic and social exclusion. It aims to help people become self-reliant and eventually gain the skills needed to graduate into the mainstream financial markets. This endeavour is governed by principles of long-term sustainability, efficiency and financial discipline. Operating in both rural and urban settings, AKAMs programmes have helped poor people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds to expand their incomes and improve their quality of life.
AKAM operates today in 13 countries and its institutions offer a full range of products, such as simple individual or group loans, housing microfinance,microinsurance products and loans for small and medium enterprise activity.
AKAMs microfinance initiatives range from village lending cooperatives to self-standing microfinance institutions to full-fledged microfinance banks. These activities currently operate in:
AKAM is also offering microinsurance products in Pakistan and in Tanzania.
Often these activities are part of wider integrated development strategy being implemented by the AKDN within each country. In addition to providing financial services to the poor, they may include business or technical advisory/training extension services and business development programmes that work directly with local entrepreneurs.
Microfinance in Pakistan
The First MicroFinance Bank Pakistan (FMFB-P) was the first bank to be licenced in Pakistan, in March 2002, under the countrys new microfinance regulatory framework. It initially began as a programme in Rawalpindi and Karachi in 2002.
Pakistans economy has been growing steadily over the last decade. During that time, the microfinance sector saw the opening of numerous institutions and considerable foreign and local investment. This accelerated growth levelled off in 2008 and 2009, which caused the microfinance industrys portfolio to tighten. Nationally, the microfinance sector was estimated at 1.8 million borrowers at the end of 2009, which is only 6.5 percent of the potential microfinance market. Over 17 million people in Pakistan live under the poverty line. Inflation, which stood at 14.2 percent in 2009, and the depreciation of the Pakistani rupee, which was partially caused by the political and economic instability, remain challenges to the economy. They have also had an effect on the portfolio quality in most microfinance institutions.
In 2009, FMFB-P saw a 20 percent increase in its number of loan beneficiaries as well as a 30 percent increase in the number of savers. FMFB-P finished the year with over 206,000 outstanding loans valued at US$ 33.3 million. A quarter of FMFB-Ps microcredit beneficiaries are women. More than 180,000 savings clients had deposited over US$ 40 million with the bank by the end of the year.
FMFB-P is working to address the causes of poverty, using different methods to tackle the problem