AGFUND Bank for the in Sierra Leone
HRH Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, head of the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) announced a developmental initiative, designed to contribute in fighting poverty in West Africa. The initiative will start by establishing a Bank for the Poor in Sierra Leone. On Sunday, May18th 2008, Prince Talal received in the AGFUND headquarters in Rhiyad an African delegation headed by Sierra Leone’s Minister of Trade and Industry Alimamy Koroma and private sector representatives from Ecobank, a key lending bank with branches in some 22 African states. HRH Prince Talal underscored the importance of that step, by virtue of which the AGFUND program for fighting poverty moves to West Africa through setting up banks for the poor there. West Africa is among the world regions in dire need of projects to alleviate poverty. “We bless and support that orientation,” noted Prince Abdulaziz. The African delegation will be holding extensive talks with the AGFUND administration, headed by Executive Manager Naser Qahtany, and attended by Dr. Hashem Hussien, head of the UNIDO Investments and Technology Promotion office in Bahrain. The meeting investigated means of ensuring that Sub-Saharan states benefit from the AGFUND bank for the poor, and also informed the delegation of the role of the program in supporting micro-credit projects in the Arab region. Meetings were wrapped up, having agreed to establish a bank for the poor in Sierra Leone, as the first step in a series of other projects aimed at mitigating poverty in the region, and disseminating the AGFUND model. It was also agreed that AGFUND would provide the Sierra Leone side and Ecobank representatives with the mechanisms and procedures required to set up the bank, as per the exact steps adopted in the Arab states where the bank was established. The memorandum of understanding was signed by Sierra Leone’s Minister of Trade and Industry and the AGFUND Executive Manager Naser Qahtany to kick off the project. The African delegation had studied the Arab model to enhance the notion of fighting poverty through the AGFUND-led micro-credit mechanism. The model is a spin-off, based on Prince Talal’s Banks for the Poor project across the Arab world. The project serves to activate Governments’ roles in creating a convenient environment for small and micro enterprises, as well as offering non-financial services (such as preparations, technical support, networking funding institutions and nurturing). AGFUND is cooperating with Professor Muhamad Yunis, founder of Grameen Bank, as well as private sector partners, so as to implement the model in a number of Arab states such as Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt and Syria. The model also seeks to offer financial services through small and micro-credit, and partnering with the private sector, which is meant to crystallize in linking the micro-credit industry together with the small and medium-sized credit industry. The objective is to boost and nurture small and micro enterprises.