Islamic Development Bank prioritizing poverty reduction in member countries

Islamic Development Bank prioritizing poverty reduction in member countries
Hiba Ahmed, director-general of the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, says the fund specializes in grants and concessional financing. (Mohammed Khayat/AN)
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Updated 16 May 2023

Islamic Development Bank prioritizing poverty reduction in member countries

Islamic Development Bank prioritizing poverty reduction in member countries
  • $1.2bn approved, with 78% going to less-developed nations
  • IsDB has capital of $2.6bn for grants and concessional financing

JEDDAH: The Islamic Development Bank is continuing to prioritize poverty-alleviation projects in its most needy member countries.

This is according to Dr. Hiba Ahmed, director-general of the body’s Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development or ISFD, who spoke to Arab News on the sidelines of its annual meeting that is taking place in Jeddah from May 10 to 14.

“It’s a work fund, where we invest the capital and the return on capital is used for poverty reduction. As of now, our capital is $2.6 billion. And we only specialize in grants and concessional financing,” Ahmed told Arab News.

According to Ahmed, concessional financing is important for poor countries because it provides affordable financing models, where they can charge less than 1 percent for access. “As of now, we did approve more than $1.2 billion worth of projects, and 78 percent of it went to poor, less-developed countries.”

The ISFD was established in 2007 as a special fund within the IDB to fight poverty and promote pro-poor economic growth.

Since its inception, the ISFD has approved $1.14 billion in loans and grants supporting 321 poverty alleviation projects, and 80 percent of ISFD’s project portfolio is provided for the least-developed member countries.

To promote sustainable development and economic transformation, Ahmed said the programs focus on job creation, health, education, agriculture and community development.

“We focus on economic empowerment of youth and women and the generation of jobs ... This supports our member countries substantially in terms of achieving their own objectives. And since we focus on the poor countries, (the) least-developed countries, we provide the opportunity for these countries to catch up in the development agenda.”

Ahmed said several new projects have been earmarked for this year.

“As of now, especially in 2023, we did almost double our operations, and we did approve around ($200.5 million). All these projects are mainly in economic empowerment. (When it comes to) supporting youth and women, creating jobs, and so on, we are expecting by the end of this year to add to this maybe around $100 million. So, in total, we think that these contributions because they come in the form of grants, they come in the form of concessional financing, they do support the poor … substantially.”

Ahmed added: “We do have a focus on education. Last year 22 percent of our approvals went to education. We support the agricultural sector, we support the health sector, and so on. So, all our sectors actually are our kind of core sectors for poverty reduction.”

May 11 will mark the official opening day of the IsDB annual meeting. The four-day meeting, entitled “Partnerships to Fend off Crises,” will focus on the importance of collaboration in addressing challenges faced by the bank’s 57 member countries. The event serves as a platform for global leaders, policymakers, key stakeholders, and other influential figures to come together and discuss critical development issues.

During the meeting, member nations will have the opportunity to present relevant development projects and initiatives to strengthen partnerships and create valuable, lasting impacts.

The event will also give a chance to member countries to showcase their achievements and success stories, as well as strengthen trade relations and encourage investment.