Participants in the Microcredit summit encourage coping the model of AGFUND Banks for the Poor
Nasser Al-Kahtani expresses his sorrow for the “Arab Absence” from Philippines Summit
Yunus: Prince Talal’s approach towards fighting poverty is premium and present at sustainable development forums.
Participants in the 16th microcredit summit conference called for copying the model of the Arab Gulf Programme for Development (AGFUND) in establishing banks for the poor. In this regard, the summit highly spoke of the efforts exerted by Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz, President of AGFUND, and HH’s initiatives towards fighting poverty in developing countries. With its Banks for the poor model, AGFUND managed to attract the attention of those participating in the microcredit summit, held in Philippines during the period from 9 to 11 October under the theme “Partnerships against Poverty”. Additionally, the participants revealed their desire to “copy” AGFUND model and generalize it in their own countries for the benefit of developing communities.
Global Economist, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, greatly valued Prince Talal’s efforts in human development as well as HH’s distinct orientation towards fighting poverty – which proved its presence in all forums related to sustainable development – and also for adopting the establishment of banks for the poor based on the principal of social works.
For his part, Mr. Lari Red, Executive Director of the microcredit summit campaign, praised AGFUND experience, its expansion and development in terms of trained human capacities, best lending practices and innovating products. Mr. Lari further expressed his gratitude to Prince Talal for continuously supporting the campaign since 1997 and for backing up this organization that works on introducing the concept of social works in fighting poverty. He additionally noted the successful cooperation between “AGFUND” and the microcredit campaign which took place in 2004 where they organized the microcredit regional conference in the Middle East and North Africa, in Jordan, Amman – one which he described as “the most successful conference specialized in the microcredit at the level of Arab countries”
AGFUND CEO, Nasser Bakr Alkahtani, addressed the Philippines summit as he presented – to more than 1000 experts and participants from all over the world – AGFUND experience and its practical steps towards finding solutions to the poor’s social problems in addition to integrating them in the financial process. He further pointed out that AGFUND is actively moving towards the implementation of its ambitious strategy guided by Prince Talal’s directions and his prevision of sustainable development and social justice. Moreover, the CEO explained that adopting this vision enabled AGFUND of establishing 8 microcredit banks and institutes since 2006 in each of, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Sierra Leon, Lebanon, Sudan and Palestine at the rate of one bank annually; where these banks apply the best microcredit practices.
Referring to AGFUND plans to expand in the establishment of banks for the poor, Alkahtani stated:
“Day after day more countries start to comply with AGFUND standards regarding the necessary procedures for establishing banks for the poor. While “Ebdaa” bank in Sudan – the latest bank for the poor – is preparing to provide its microcredit services and other products by the start of next November, steps are taken for completing the establishment procedures of the ninth bank in Philippine; and similarly measures are implemented to establish a bank in Mauritania and another in Tunisia”.
As he expressed his pleasure of the global interest in AGFUND efforts under the leadership of Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz and his model in applying the microcredit mechanism, Alkahtani pointed to what he described as the “Arab Absence” from the Philippine summit. AGFUND CEO stated that the Arab region was totally absent from the summit both at the level of experts or representatives of central banks and that the region should have recorded a presence that corresponds to the degree of poverty in its societies. He further clarified how important it is for the region to approach the massive developments taking place in a sector that imposed itself even in the developed countries, and that the region countries are obliged to pass legislations that keep pace with our age in terms of making way for microcredit, protecting it and encouraging those engaged in it to provide better services for a broad segment ignored by the current banking system
Alkahtani called the Arab countries to follow communities that introduced major reforms to its systems and laws, and provided stimulants to the microcredit, referring in this context to countries with which AGFUND partnered in establishing banks for the poor, especially Yemen and Sudan.
Among the participations of AGFUND delegation in Philippine summit works, Alkahtani and officials of AGFUND banks for the poor met Prof. Muhammad Yunus, AGFUND partner in banks for the poor system. The bank officials reviewed the latest updates in the field of applying microcredit practices and providing products which match each society and the needs of its target segment. Like for instance, adopting solar energy and offering it as a new product to the customers in addition to integrating the poorest of the poor in the financial system and excluding them from the “social security” as well as attracting deposits from rural areas. That’s in addition to opening new branches and entering into partnerships with a number of those interested in embracing the financial system of the poor segment.
Regarding AGFUND technical support unit of the banks for the poor – which was incepted with purpose of accrediting and transferring experiences and technical support in addition to contributing to developing the microcredit sector in the region – Prof. Younus and AGFUND bank officials discussed, in the meeting held in Manila, the efforts exerted at the unit to develop a model that would guide the bank target segment, represented in the poorest of the poor, towards microcredit then to small and medium financing. The meeting also discussed steps taken by the unit to develop the “Bachelor” program to be taught in the Arab Open University starting with the university two branches located in each of Lebanon and Jordan.
Throughout the summit, AGFUND arranged a symposium addressing mechanisms of establishing banks for the poor in cooperation with the private sector by following the social works principle.