The Network seeks to encourage entrepreneurial activity and the growth of the private sector as part of efforts to create a critical mass of development activity that eventually gathers its own momentum. Often in conjunction with its non-profit social investments in health or education, it makes bold but calculated investments in parts of the developing world that often lack sufficient direct investment − in order to spur private-sector growth.
Its aim with such investments is to create ethically run, self-sustaining companies that create employment, help provide essential goods and services, and contribute to the overall development of the nation.More
The first such group of project companies was set up in the 1960s under the corporate name Industrial Promotion Services (IPS). In sub-Saharan Africa, the AKDN’s investments focused on providing goods and services that Africa lacked, including packaging for exports, fishnets for Lake Victoria fisherman and agro-processing, which included companies that supplied goods for both local and export markets.
The companies have played a significant role in supporting rural economies. In West Africa, for example, through the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, the AKDN supplies agricultural extension services to more than 100,000 cotton farmers, operates cotton ginneries and exports finished products. Its social programmes offer microfinance, education, health and sanitation to the farmers.
In the 1990s and early in the new millennium, these endeavours were accompanied by new investments made in the emerging economies of Central Asia, in particular, in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.>