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Life & Living Fund — IDB, Gates Foundation launch $500m fund to fight poverty, disease
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 06 - 2015


Hassan Cheruppa
Saudi Gazette
The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have agreed to launch $500 million worth fund to fight poverty and disease in the 56 IDB member states. Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ali, president of IDB, and Bill Gates, co-founder of the foundation, made the announcement at the 40th annual meeting of the IDB Board of Governors, which concluded in Maputo, Mozambique, on Thursday, according to IDB sources.
The fund, called “Life and Living Fund,” aims to tackle poverty and diseases through support for health-care programs, small agricultural holdings and basic rural infrastructure. Dr. Ali said the fund will enable IDB, through a combination of funding from donors and mobilized resources from the market, to provide additional funding of up to $2 billion, over five years, to fight poverty and disease in the member countries, especially the least developed ones.
The IDB president expressed hope that the fund would start operations in early 2016 thanks to the generous donations from the Gates Foundation and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development.
On his part, Bill Gates noted that some member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has achieved remarkable economic growth and stability. “More than one billion people in the world live in abject poverty, 400 million of whom live in the Muslim world. We have now a lifetime opportunity to improve the quality of life for almost two billion people living in the member countries,” he said while expressing his pride over contributing to this historic effort.
OIC unveils plan to develop microfinance
Iyad Madani, secretary general of OIC, said that the pan Islamic body is implementing a specific plan to develop microfinance institutions in its member states. Madani made the remarks in an address at the opening session of the 40th annual meeting of the IDB Board of Governors in Maputo on Wednesday. The speech was delivered on behalf of Madani by Assistant Secretary General of OIC for Economic Affairs Ambassador Hameed A. Opeloyeru.
Madani called on the IDB governors to approve implementation of a number of decisions issued at the 42nd Session of the Council of OIC Foreign Ministers, including the convening of a workshop for microfinance institutions in member states as well as conferences to introduce schemes based on Islamic social finance, sadaqa (charity), zakat and waqf (endowment). “The aim of the microfinance workshop is to begin a platform to share and deepen understanding of Islamic microfinance models, best practices, governance and standards developed by OIC member states. The workshop would also facilitate developing an OIC action plan on microfinance development, drawing on the experiences gained through the implementation of the Islamic Solidarity Bank for Development (ISFD) and the Special Program for the Development of Africa (SPDA).
Madani noted that the Council of Foreign Ministers had requested the convening of a special session during its next session, slated to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 2016, to mobilize additional resources to enable the ISFD to expand its activities so as to benefit the poor in priority areas. This includes supporting microfinance, food security and vocational training. He said the proposed OIC stakeholders' forum on unified halal food standards and procedures is crucial in creating a binding OIC Halal Food Standard, including an OIC-wide consensus on harmonized accreditation and certification procedures.
Show of support for Mozambique
Earlier, inaugurating the Board of Governors meeting, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi called on IDB member states to invest heavily in his country in order to address the potential challenges, especially unemployment. Nyusi stated that the government of Mozambique is working towards achieving some strategic goals that will help increase productivity, boost employment opportunities, enhance competitiveness and promote inclusive development. “In order to achieve these noble objectives, the support of IDB member countries is essential.” The president told the delegates that Mozambique is growing at an average of seven percent annually, which is a good sign for economic development.
In a show of support to the demand from the president of Mozambique, The IDB president, urged, in his speech, the private sector in the IDB member countries to take advantage of the promising signs of economic growth in Mozambique by investing in the country. “I would therefore like to take this opportunity to appeal to the private sector in the member countries of IDB, chambers of commerce and industry, airlines and energy companies to seize the opportunity of coming years of promising Mozambican economy, by the Grace of God, and intensify their contact with the country,” he said.
Addressing the meeting, Chairman of the IDB Board of Governors and Mozambique's Minister of Finance and Economy Adriano Maleiane called on IDB to increase its presence in the Southern Africa region in order to make operations easier. He stated that at the moment, there is a distance between IDB and some of its member countries, which makes it crucial for IDB to structure itself in proximity with the member countries.
The opening session was followed by the 26th IDB annual symposium titled “The role of intra-regional trade in strengthening economic cooperation and regional integration among member countries.” The second day of the event witnessed annual meetings of the affiliated bodies of IDB Group, and that included 10th General Assembly of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), 15th General Assembly of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), 22nd meeting of the Board of Governors of the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), 8th meeting of the Board of Governors of the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), General Assembly of the Association of National Development Finance Institutions in Member Countries of the IDB (ADFIMI) and meeting of the Supreme Council for Al Aqsa and Al Quds.
The general assembly of ICD approved doubling its authorized capital to $4 billion, while doubling its capital open for subscription to $2 billion. Established in 1999, the ICD has a financing portfolio of approximately $900 million and it aims to expand this to as much as $4 billion in the next four years, its CEO Khaled Al-Aboodi said. The annual gathering also witnessed a signing session of a series of agreements. These included agreements by ICD with Banco Nacional de Investimento (BNI) to cooperate in the development of the private sector in Mozambique, and with Banque Commerciale du Chari (BCC) to establish an “Islamic window” in Chad.
Aboodi commented, “Mozambique and Africa are key strategic directions for ICD and we hope, via this partnership, we will increase our presence in the Mozambique”


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