Press Release (23 April, 2017)
Fourteen new Banks for the Poor to be established in Fourteen West and Central African countries
Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus with Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain at AGFUND's Third Advisory Council Meeting on April 19, 2017
AGFUND's Third Advisory Council Meeting took place on April 19 at the United Nations Office in Geneva. It was presided over by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and attended by international experts in micro-finance, CEOs of AGFUND Banks for the Poor, businessmen and others. The council is meant to advice on strategic planning on development issues. This year, the third annual meeting was held to discuss achievements and future plans. HM Queen Sofia of Spain attended the meeting as a Special Guest along with Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali, the recently retired President of the Islamic Development Bank, together with other board members of AGFUND Prize committee.
A decision was taken to extend the programme to establish 14 banks for the poor in 14 countries of West Africa and Central Africa in the next five years, in 8 countries of West Africa and in six countries of Central Africa, with funding from AGFUND. It has already established 9 Banks for the poor in nine Arab countries in MENA region. These banks were established by AGFUND at the encouragement and support from Professor Yunus. They have maintained near 99 percent repayment record and majority of borrowers of these banks are women. These banks strictly follow the Grameen methodology and they operate as social business.
By 2021 AGFUND is committed to disbursing one billion US dollars in loans through the existing and upcoming banks. AGFUND's involvement in Microfinance was initiated by HRH Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, at the inspiration of Professor Muhammad Yunus. Advisory Council declared to increase the amount of award money from half million US dollars to one million US dollars from next year.
AGFUND celebrated the 18th annual award ceremony of its International Prize for Pioneering Human Development Projects. HM Queen Sofia of Spain and Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus co-chaired the AGFUND Prize committee meeting. This event takes place every year in the framework of AGFUND’s continuing focus on human development and humanitarian issues, in a world increasingly beset by new and recurrent human crisis, every year since 1999. On the sidelines of this meeting Professor Muhammad Yunus had a separate meeting with Dr Bandar Hajjar the new President of the Islamic Development Bank.
The AGFUND Prize awards are given to those who have designed and conducted noteworthy human development initiatives with the most marginal on a specific theme of global or topical interest. It was also decided that the theme of each year’s prizes would be based on the United Nations SDG goals. Three winning projects were announced for 2016 AGFUND Prizes of half a million dollars. AGFUND also announced the winners for 2016 who will be awarded next year. It was also announced that social business projects will be added as a category for contesting in the Prize contest.
Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus had a meeting with Dr Bandar Hajjar, the new President of the Islamic Development Bank at AGFUND's Third Advisory Council Meeting on April 19, 2017. Photo: Yunus Centre