Dr Amjad Saqib speaks at an event.
Tanvir Usman, Gulf Today
While thanking Almighty Allah, the microfinance pioneer Dr Amjad Saqib, who won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, told Gulf Today that this honour belongs to all Pakistanis. The award is Asia’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize.
It shows the world a positive aspect of Pakistan where people have the compassion to serve the underprivileged, he said. History remembers those who serve the humanity irrespective of race, region and religion.
Those who lead a life with a mission to ameliorate the conditions of the underprivileged not only uplift the lower strata of the society but also bring honour to the nations.
Saqib is one of the few personalities in Pakistan, whose initiatives to eradicate the poverty in the south-Asian nation have not only helped those in need but also acclaimed the global accolades.
He made his country proud when he was declared a winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
While sharing his foundation’s future plans, Saqib said, “I believe that poverty cannot be eradicated if even a single poor exists in the society. We serve all without discrimination. Akhuwat has served over four million people so far, and aims to help more than 40 million people in the coming years. This journey will continue all across the country and beyond its shores as well, God willing.”
While explaining his views about the university established by his foundation, Saqib said, “we believe on fee-free education similar to our vision of interest-free loans. We tell students to get education and pay fee after 20 years. This is a succession plan, where students will help us to continue this noble cause in the future.”
“The concept of Mawakhat or solidarity predates to 622 CE when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) urged the residents of Medina (Ansars) to share half of their belongings with the Muhajirs (migrants) who were forced to flee persecution and migrated from Makkah to Medina.
“Drawing inspiration from the generosity displayed by the Ansars, Akhuwat believes that if the same approach, where one affluent family adopts a less fortunate family, inequality will be eradicated from the world,” he added.
Saqib, 64, was awarded for his “first-of-its-kind” interest- and collateral-free microfinance programme that has helped millions of poor households.
Founded in 2001, Akhuwat has grown into the nation’s largest microfinance institution, distributing the equivalent of $900 million and boasting an almost 100 per cent loan repayment rate, according to the award foundation.
Saqib, who uses places of worship to hand out money, was cited for “his inspiring belief that human goodness and solidarity will find ways to eradicate poverty.”
The Akhuwat Foundation has over 800 branches all across the country. It has the network of 301 schools and 3 colleges providing education to more than 47,000 students.
Around 4.8 million people have benefited from the foundation. When it comes to health services, more than 500,000 patients of hepatitis and diabetes have been treated free of cost.
Around 2.7 million clothes have been collected and distributed among the needy. Rs140 billion have been disbursed in interest-free micro-loans and over 2,000 transgender people have received financial and social assistance so far.
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