The Aga Khan Development Network agencies have been involved in micro-credit for more than 60 years. During that time, a variety of institutions offering a range of products tailored to specific needs have been established in many countries…. We have also extended loans for education and health care, which we believe can be important ways to break down the barriers to access to those services for the poor. It is important to note that the issue is not only the provision of services, but making them accessible to the poor….

We must be prepared to bank good character, good ideas and the willingness to work hard. If we do bank those attributes, micro-finance can be a formidable tool for poverty alleviation in large parts of the developing world. Its versatility allows it to be adapted to the needs and circumstances of the poor in urban and in rural environments. I am convinced we have only begun to tap into its potential.

Often when we speak of micro-finance, we think of small loans. But micro-finance is moving beyond micro-credit and now includes a range of new products and services to meet the needs of the poor. Simply put, the poor in the developing world require access to just about every kind of financial product and social service that individuals or small-enterprise owners require in the developed world.

The Aga Khan Development Network agencies have been involved in micro-credit for more than 60 years. During that time, a variety of institutions offering a range of products tailored to specific needs have been established in many countries. We offer small saving accounts, housing loans and micro-insurance for individuals. We provide international money transfer and short working capital loans to small businesses. We have also extended loans for education and health care, which we believe can be important ways to break down the barriers to access to those services for the poor. It is important to note that the issue is not only the provision of services, but making them accessible to the poor.

In the process of offering these services, we have discovered that the poor are bankable. Our loan-loss experience of two percent is less than many of the small business portfolios of Western commercial banks. We must be prepared to bank good character, good ideas and the willingness to work hard.

If we do bank those attributes, micro-finance can be a formidable tool for poverty alleviation in large parts of the developing world. Its versatility allows it to be adapted to the needs and circumstances of the poor in urban and in rural environments. I am convinced we have only begun to tap into its potential.

His Highness the Aga Khan IV

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