Pakistan’s microfinance pioneer Amjad Saqib wins Asia’s ‘Nobel Prize’, the Ramon Magsaysay Award

Pakistani microfinance pioneer Amjad Saqib who developed an interest-free microfinance programme was among Tuesday’s winners of Asia’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize, the Magsaysay Award.

Muhammad Amjad Saqib who is 64 years old has won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his “first-of-its-kind” interest- and collateral-free microfinance programme that catalysed scores of poor households.

Founder of Akhuwat Foundation 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, the award foundation said.

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The Ramon Magsaysay Award is named after a Filipino president killed in a plane crash, it was established in 1957 to honour people and groups tackling development problems.

Who is Muhammad Amjad Saqib?

Muhammad Amjad Saqib is a Pakistani social entrepreneur, development worker, former civil servant and author. He is the founder and executive director of the Akhuwat Foundation, the world’s largest Islamic microfinance organisation, which provides interest-free loans to the neediest populations.

Since its inception in 2001, the organisation has disbursed over PKR 130 billion (US$853 million) in interest-free loans, helping over 3 million families across Pakistan. Akhuwat takes a multi-dimensional approach to poverty alleviation and has launched several other projects, including Pakistan’s first tuition-free university – Akhuwat College University – which is open to talented students from across Pakistan who could not otherwise afford higher education.

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Amjad Saqib is known for his work in social mobilisation, poverty alleviation, microfinance and education management. He is the author of nine books, including Akhuwat ka Safar and Molu Musali, which describe his journey to establish Akhuwat, and writes regular columns in various Pakistani newspapers. He has received several national and international awards, including Sitara-e-Imtiaz, a coveted civilian award of Pakistan.

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