Dr Amjad Saqib of Akhuwat Foundation nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
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The founder of the Islamic microfinance organization—the Akhuwat Foundation—Dr Amjad Saqib has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
According to the British organization PA Media, Dr Amjad Saqib is nominated by the Foreign Minister of Malta as his organization has already lifted more than five million people out of poverty.
The British organization PA Media has said Pakistani development specialist and social worker Muhammad Amjad Saqib created the first combined interest-and-collateral-free microfinance programme in 2001.
Using places of worship of all faiths including mosques, churches and temples, he started disbursing zero-interest loans achieving a phenomenal loan repayment rate of 99.8 per cent by respecting the dignity of the recipients.
Akhuwat Foundation helped ensure funds are used productively by supporting his programme through a vast array of social support programmes in education, health services, food and clothing, anti-discrimination, and COVID-19 emergency aid.
In recognition of his work in helping at least 5 million families, Dr Saqib received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s highest honour in 2021 and has now been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work in poverty alleviation.
His nomination cites the innovation and compassion that enabled him to create the largest microfinance institution in the world and his inspiring belief that human goodness and solidarity will find ways to eradicate poverty.
An unprecedented number of women, around 40 per cent are the recipients of these interest-free loans that are enabling them to develop the means to raise their families independently.
Nearly two decades after its launch, Akhuwat with a meagre sum of 100 USD— has grown into the largest microfinance institution of its kind in the world, distributing over 1 billion USD.
According to a recent World Bank report, in Pakistan, a country of 220 million, more than 22 per cent are living below the poverty line.
Dr Saqib envisioned a world without the ever-widening gulf between the rich and the poor reflecting that if the endowed and resourceful could take half a step by embracing the less fortunate not through charity but by enabling them.
Initially many wealthy people donated funds which were used for thousands of interest-free loans people used to start their small businesses. Once their businesses started making money, they paid back to Akhuwat in small instalments. The Akhuwat recovery rate of beyond 99.8 per cent is unprecedented in microfinance with so few defaults. Michael Harper, Emeritus Professor of the Cranfield School of Management recognised that “Akhuwat is breaking the rules in microfinance and sometimes it is important to break the rules”.
When Harvard University's Kennedy School conducted a case study on Akhuwat in 2016 the 'Akhuwat Model' started generating global interest.
In 2018, The Commonwealth's 31st Point of Light Award was presented by Queen Elizabeth in recognition of Saqib's services for poverty alleviation and restoring human dignity in Pakistan.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) and Schwab Foundation awarded him Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 in recognition of his contributions as a social entrepreneur.
Dr Saqib is credited for many practical innovations in the field of microfinance. Using places of worship for transactional activities introduced by Akhuwat where loans are processed, distributed and collected provides for transparency, and community participation and creates goodwill amongst people.
Dr Saqib’s emphasis on volunteerism helped mobilise over 20,000 to help with administrative and professional tasks for Akhuwat’s 850 offices and maximise the use of funds for direct development purposes by minimising overhead costs.
Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib graduated from King Edward Medical University. He started his career by joining the esteemed civil service of Pakistan in 1985. He served in various high-level government positions including the Punjab Rural Support Program (PRSP), a rural development and microfinance initiative by the government of Punjab for seven years.
Dr Saqib resigned from Civil Service in 2003 and founded Akhuwat the same year. He has been its CEO and main driving force since the beginning.
Besides Akhuwat, Dr Saqib is voluntarily serving many civil society organizations in the realm of education, health, disability, banking and finance.
He is also on the board of a commercial bank and a few public universities. Besides his pro-bono services, Dr Saqib regularly provides consultancy to various international development agencies including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Labor Organization (ILO), UNICEF, World Bank, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), USAID and Foreign Common Wealth and Development Office (FCDO, previously DFID) and different public sector organizations in Pakistan.
He also received his master’s degree in Public Administration from The American University, Washington DC, USA. He has spoken at highly esteemed international forums including Harvard, Oxford and United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN-ECOSOC). Dr Saqib is a prolific writer and has authored nine books available on his website.
About the Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to persons or organizations for their efforts and actions for the promotion of peace. Pope Francis, British natural history broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, the World Health Organization and Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya are among the nominees for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize as is climate activist Greta Thunberg. Pakistan-born Malala Yousafzai became the Nobel Laureate in 2014 and remains the youngest winner of the coveted prize.
Nominations do not imply an endorsement from the Nobel committee. The 2022 laureate will be announced in October 2022.