Islamic Relief (IR) took part in a microfinance seminar this month, discussing the financial challenges facing Muslims in the developing world.
The seminar, Islamic Microfinance: Opportunities and Challenges, was organised by the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) and was held in Dubai on November 3 2008.
Dr Ajaz Ahmed Khan, IR’s head of policy and research, gave a presentation entitled, Islamic Microfinance: Building a Sustainable Model, which highlighted IR’s experiences in providing Shariah compliant microfinance (small loans offered to those usually excluded from financial services), outlining the practical difficulties we have faced and some of the solutions we have come up with.
“A recent report by CGAP has found that 72 percent of people living in Muslim majority countries choose not to use financial services. One of the principal reasons for this is because many of the financial services do not conform to people’s religious beliefs,” Khan said.
“We can assume that it is one of the principal obstacles to development. It is therefore incumbent upon us to develop and increase the availability of Islamic financial services – particularly among the poor whose access is most limited,” he added.
IR currently carries out microfinance projects in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, providing Shariah compliant microfinance which allows people to begin their own businesses, further their education and carry-out essential repairs on their homes.
Our microfinance programmes have been found to be instrumental in strengthening people’s economic self-reliance and in creating long-term solutions for poverty alleviation.