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Afghan and Pakistan Microfinance Banks Win Top Financial Transparency Awards


Geneva, Switzerland, 15 March 2007 - Microfinance banks of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) have received top financial transparency awards from the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).

The First MicroFinanceBank of Pakistan and the First MicroFinanceBank of Afghanistan, both AKAM institutions, have received the top award for achieving the highest standards of financial disclosure. The Award criteria draw from the disclosure requirements of International Financial Reporting Standards as well as industry-specific CGAP disclosure guidelines.

In addition, the First MicroFinanceBank of Tajikistan was one of 83 institutions which received recognition of “merit”, indicating their compliance with competition criteria. Two-hundred and thirty microfinance institutions in 62 countries entered the competition this year, the highest number to date. The full results of the 2006 competition can be found on the CGAP website at www.cgap.org

The First MicroFinanceBank of Pakistan also won the top award in 2005.

“In an era when international lending institutions, government donors and development organizations have called for better governance and improved transparency, these awards set high standards for microfinance banks,” said Jacques Toureille, General Manager of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance. “It speaks volumes that our banks in Pakistan and Afghanistan have won the top awards and that the bank in Tajikistan is well on its way to achieving the same status.”

After receiving banking licence #001 in the autumn of 2003, the First MicroFinanceBank of Afghanistan has rapidly expanded its activities in the country. Currently, First MicroFinanceBank of Afghanistan has eight branches: three in Kabul, one in Pul-e-Khumri, one in Mazar-e-Sharif, one in Herat, one in Kunduz and one in Jalalabad.

The First MicroFinanceBank of Pakistan started operations in March 2002 as the first microfinance bank licensed under the regulatory framework of the Microfinance Institutions Ordinance 2001. Since then, the Bank has gradually expanded its reach to a network of over 43 branches/units in both rural and urban areas of the country.

The First MicroFinanceBank of Tajikistan was established in 2003. In addition to its Head Office in Dushanbe, the bank currently has branches in Khorog, Garm, Khojand and in the Khatlon district.

All First MicroFinanceBanks provide credit and saving products as well as domestic and international payment services. In addition, the Afghan and Tajik Banks finance Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and provide a variety of commercial services, including quality fund management services, and SWIFT transfers, among others.

The Banks’ central objective is the fight against poverty and economic exclusion. Their main goals are sustainability, broad geographical and service outreach and maximal impact.

For more information about the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, please see www.akdn.org.

For more information, please contact:
Caroline Monod
The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance
1-3 Avenue de la Paix
1202 Genève
Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 909 7 347
Fax: +41 22 909 7290
E-mail: akam@akdn.org

Notes:
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East. The Network’s nine agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion and the underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$300 million.

Since its establishment in 2005, The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) has brought together over 25 years of microfinance activities, programmes and banks that were administered by sister agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network. The underlying objectives of the Agency are to reduce poverty, diminish the vulnerability of poor populations and alleviate economic and social exclusion. AKAM is a not-for-profit, non-denominational, international development agency created under Swiss law. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board is His Highness the Aga Khan.

The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of institutions working to improve living conditions and opportunities in specific regions of the developing world. The Network's institutions have mandates that range from the fields of health and education to rural development and the promotion of private-sector enterprise.The three main areas of activity in the Network are social development, economic development and culture.

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