Karachi, Pakistan, 6 January 2010 – Two institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network, The First MicroFinanceBank Ltd Pakistan (FMFB) and the Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBS), are launching a programme designed to help poor and low-income families make their homes safer, healthier and more energy efficient. FMFB will provide needs-based, short to medium-term financial services (housing finance) for both structural and non-structural improvements to the houses. AKPBS will offer technical advice on seismic-resistant construction, sanitation and energy efficiency. For non-structural improvements, another AKPBS programme, the Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP), will provide a range of products and services that include fuel efficient stoves, light and ventilation systems, and low-cost insulation methods. Housing finance will be piloted in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral during 2010 and launched in other areas in the future. FMFB will provide loans ranging from PKR 10,000 - 500,000 to groups of poor people at a relatively low interest rate. For structural house improvements, the clients would build up equity through savings prior to the release of the loan. They would continue to save after disbursement to mitigate any cash flow changes over time. To support the clients in repayment, a grace period would also be provided during the construction period. AKPBS’s technicians will monitor the proposed construction or improvement to ensure the housing is resistant to seismic events and that sanitation and energy efficiency are integral parts of the design. FMFB and AKPBS will also support the purchase of BACIP products that improve the quality of life for poor and low-income people. These products include smoke-free stoves that reduce domestic biomass needs by over 50 percent while also helping to reduce acute respiratory infections due to smoke and cold. Other BACIP products include roof hatch windows, which improve light and ventilation, decrease fuel wood consumption and help reduce respiratory infections; water warming systems that ease domestic chores, which are primarily done by women, while saving fuel and reducing exposure to cold temperatures; and floor insulation, which warms up traditional house floors and allows for more comfortable sitting and sleeping. The housing finance, which would reach out to 27,000 households in the next three years, is one of the social products being offered by the FMFB to poor communities in the country. FMFB is already offering health insurance for the poor in Karachi and is developing an education finance product, which is to be launched later in 2010. For further details, please contact: Salimah Shiraj Head of Communications & Brand Management The First MicroFinanceBank Ltd Tel: +92-21-35822432, 35370095 Fax: +92-21-35822434 Cell: +92 300-8200350 NOTES The First MicroFinanceBank Ltd., a part of the Aga Khan Development Network, is a premier, non-commercial, private sector Microfinance Bank licensed by the State Bank of Pakistan. FMFB has been ranked as seventh among the top 100 Micro-finance Institutions of the world by the World Bank affiliate, CGAP. The Bank strives to alleviate poverty through sustainable economic development by offering credit, savings and life insurance services along with an efficient and low cost funds transfer service to its target populations. With over 157 locations, including 89 automated branches all over Pakistan and access to 68 Pakistan Post outlets, FMFB has disbursed over PKR 11.8 billion through 677,000 loans while generating a deposit base of PKR 5.2 billion as at December 2009. Aga Khan Planning and Building Services has been working to improve the built environment in Pakistan since 1980. Its areas of focus include housing design and construction, institutional construction management, village planning, natural hazard mitigation, water supply and sanitation, and improved indoor living conditions for the most disadvantaged members of society. AKPBS achieves its goals by providing material and technical expertise and training to rural and urban areas. The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of non-denominational development agencies, created by His Highness the Aga Khan, with complementary mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalisation of historic cities. The AKDN agencies work to improve living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. Working in the fields of economic, cultural and social development, AKDN aims to provide choices and opportunities to communities so that they can realise and determine their own development.