Creative microfinance solutions in Sudan and Pakistan were rewarded at this year’s Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB)-Thomson Reuters Ethical and Islamic Finance Innovation Awards (EFICA).
The Ethical Finance Initiative Award was picked up by Hassan AbdelMageed of the Bank of Khartoum for a project that has transformed an impoverished village in rural Sudan. Meanwhile, the Lifetime Achievement Award was won by Dr. Amjad Saqib for his work establishing Akhuwat, an organization that has helped over 600,000 families in Pakistan.
EFICA awards were launched last year and institutions, research centres, and individuals were called to submit entries in the three categories of the Islamic Finance Industry Development Award, the Ethical Finance Initiative Award, and the Lifetime achievement award. The awards were designed to inspire real change in the financial services industry by recognising and rewarding innovation that can be put into practice. Entrants should put forward their ideas for shaping the financial industry within an ethical framework to be in for a chance to win a prize of up to $100,000.
“These highly inventive solutions are proof that the financial community is capable of innovations that address our development and environmental challenges,” said ADIB Chief Executive Officer Tirad Al Mahmoud. “The EFICA awards given by ADIB and Thomson Reuters have gone from strength to strength, and we are greatly encouraged that we are receiving hundreds of entries. It really shows that many people in the sector are working hard on harnessing finance to benefit communities worldwide.”
Nadim Najjar, Managing Director, Middle East and North Africa, Thomson Reuters said: “We are proud to have partnered with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank to organize this Innovative Challenge and Awards. We would like this award to make a statement to the world at large that the financial system can be a force for good in society.”
Hassan Abdel Mageed, of the Bank of Khartoum’s microfinance unit, developed the project for Wad Ballal, a village of 400 families working primarily in cattle breeding, drawing on a track record of building original Islamic microfinance business models. The project uses a structure that channels investment through a community-established company and association, ensuring that farmers receive access to financing when it is needed most, as well as technical and marketing assistance.
The project has improved the quality of local livestock, has substantially increased the income of participating families, while generating healthy returns for the village company and the bank itself. A portion of the profits are invested back into community development, creating a virtuous cycle.
“I feel extremely proud that a project in Sudan is recognized not just as ethical but also as innovative, and my hope is that finance professionals from across the world will take a close look at what we have done. It would be great if this project could be replicated widely,” Hassan AbdelMageed said after the awards event.
Also at this year’s award ceremony, the EFICA Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed on Pakistan’s Dr. Amjad Saqib for his many contributions to ethical practices in the arena of financial services.
Dr. Saqib, a former senior civil servant, is the founder of trailblazing micro-credit provider Akhuwat, which operates a unique interest-free microfinance model, which currently has over $100 million in base capital. He is also a renowned author and consultant to international organizations.
“This award is really for the whole team at Akhuwat, who have worked so hard over the years,” said Dr. Amjad Saqib. “The organization has touched the lives of 600,000 families, helping them pursue an entrepreneurial path that should have an impact for generations to come. It’s not very often that their stories are told, so I’m grateful to ADIB and Thomson Reuters for this opportunity.”
The Wad Ballal project was voted the winner of the $50,000 Ethical Finance Initiative Award by over 200 industry professionals that attended the annual EFICA Gala Dinner on October 29th 2014 in Dubai. Other finalists were the operator of an Egypt-focused website that helps provide ‘crowd sourced’ funding to small businesses and a Shari’ah-compliant asset management company in Saudi Arabia that has adopted the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investing in the management of funds.
From over 200 submissions that were received for the Ethical Finance Initiative Award, the three finalists were selected following presentations in September to the EFICA advisory board, which included financial experts and Islamic scholars.
Over 100 applications were also received for the Islamic Finance Industry Development Award, which was also launched last year with a $100,000 prize. However, the advisory board decided not to grant the award for 2014, as entrants failed to meet the award’s strict criteria. The prize will be offered again next year.
Originally published on www.cpifinancial.net