"A richly diverse yet purposefully united citizenry is capable of making a critical contribution to social development in the struggle against poverty... The Centre will stand for the ethics that uphold the dignity of man as the noblest of Creation. It will bring down the walls that divide and build bridges that unite. These are the ethics that inspire the work of the Aga Khan Development Network."
His Highness the Aga Khan, Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 30 August 2003
Microfinance Bank Launched in Afghanistan
The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) received a banking licence for The First MicroFinanceBank (FMFB) in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Bank will provide credit and saving products as well as domestic and international payment services. It will focus on micro-enterprises, small businesses and the creation of productive sources of income and employment, particularly for under-served and isolated rural populations in mountainous areas and communities afflicted by the scourge of the narcotics trade. Beginning in Kabul and urban centres in the northeast of the country, where AKFED is already running significant microcredit programmes to support Afghan returnees and microenterprise development in rural and urban areas, the Bank plans to achieve wide national coverage within a few years. For more information, please see the press release. Last year, AKFED established the First MicroFinanceBank in Pakistan after nearly two decades of successful rural microfinance experience.
Aga Khan Trust for Culture Receives 2003 UNESCO
Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award
The conservation of the Astana (historic tomb) of Syed Mir Muhammad in Khanqha Settlement, Baltistan, in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, has won UNESCO's Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation for 2003. The Award cited the Trust's "noteworthy restoration of the 300-year old mausoleum... which returns an important architectural and community landmark to its former prominence in the northern Pakistan highland settlement of Khaplu. The building’s aged patina and historic character have been carefully retained through skillful and sensitive conservation techniques." The Awards are designed to "recognize the efforts and contributions of individuals and organisations within the private sector, including private-public partnerships, who have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the Asia-Pacific region". The Trust's Historic Cities Programme also won an award in 2002 for its restoration work in Ganish, Hunza Valley, Pakistan.
Aga Khan and President Emomali Rahmonov Launch
Ismaili Centre in Dushanbe, Tajikistan
His Highness the Aga Khan launched an Ismaili Centre in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on 30 August 2003. The foundation stone of the Centre was laid by Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmonov on a 25,500 square metre site in the centre of the city. President Rahmonov underlined the commitment of the Government of Tajikistan to provide enabling conditions for the development of institutions promoting "freedom of conscience, pluralism and faith" as well as an "exchange of opinions and national accord in society." For more information, please see the press release.
State of the Art Computing Facilities for Afghan Girls' High School
Tajwar Sultana School, a girls' high school formerly on a front line in Kabul, became the first educational institution in the country with state-of-the-art computing facilities, including multimedia and Internet access. FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, announced the completion of totally rehabilitated and refurbished school buildings, integrating a new library, new sports and recreational facilities and reconstructed pavements.
GSM Services for Afghanistan
TDCA, a GSM mobile-phone company formed by an international consortium that includes the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), Monaco Telecom International and MCT Corp., has launched mobile-phone services in Afghanistan under the name Roshan. Initially targeted at six main cities - Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad and Kunduz - the phased initiative entails a preliminary investment of US$55 million. TDCA expects to expand its coverage to other cities over the next four to five years. Subsequent phases will raise investment in the GSM network to US$120 million over the coming decade. For more information, please see the Roshan website and the press release.
Culture as a Catalyst for Development in Syria
A project to revitalise the Souq al Saghir in Masyaf, Syria, features the rehabilitation of 76 traditional shop facades, including the restoration of public areas and the installation of new street roofing. The project includes the repair of buildings, cleaning and restoration of stone facades, installation of new amenities such as salsabils, ponds, information panels, and disposal facilities, and the replacement of the street covering. The revitalisation project is part of a larger plan that includes restoration work on the Masyaf Citadel and a pedestrian area between the Citadel and the Souk. Other activities include the provision of housing improvement loans and the establishment of micro-credit facilities aimed at stimulating income-generation in the community of Masyaf. For more information, please see the press release (also available in PDF format in Arabic).
Foundation Hosts Conference on Public-Private Partnerships
for Sustainable Development
The Aga Khan Foundation hosted a two-day workshop on public-private partnerships to identify key practices, opportunities, approaches and challenges and identify ways for these partnerships to contribute to sustainable social development and stronger links between the government and civil society in Pakistan. The workshop, entitled "Understanding Public-Private Partnership for Sustainable Development in Pakistan," was held 27-28 August 2003.
Serena Hotels Website Redesigned
The Serena Hotels Group, which is part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), has redesigned and expanded its website. AKFED promotes tourism by building, rehabilitating and managing hotels, resorts and safari lodges that contribute to economic growth in an environmentally and culturally sensitive manner. Its mandate is to realise tourism's potential in selected areas in the developing world, particularly in under-served regional centres. Please see the new Serena website. For more information, see Tourism Promotion Services.
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