Damascus, Syria, 28 January 2010 – The First MicroFinance Institution Syria’s (FMFI-S) newest branch in Maysat, in the northern part of Damascus, was opened today by the Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Dardari, in the presence of the Governor of the Central Bank of Syria, Dr. Adeeb Mayaleh, and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Resident Representative in Syria, Mr. Mohamed Seifo. The new branch will expand services offered to marginalised segments of the population with the aim of providing more poor people with financial services. According to studies undertaken by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and KfW Bankengruppe (KfW), an estimated 260,000 to 420,000 households in Syria require access to microcredit for business purposes. One million households require credit for non-business purposes such as housing, education and medical care. FMFI-S is the largest provider with over 14,500 loans. “This is another forward step in our plan to focus on making financial services accessible to everyone, helping to include the poor and marginalised segments in the economic cycle,” said Jacques Toureille, General Manager of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) who also attended the opening ceremony. FMFI-S is the leading private-sector microfinance provider in Syria. Originally established in 2003 as a microfinance programme, FMFI-S completed its transition to a deposit-taking institution in October 2008. Over the next five years, FMFI-S’s network will grow to 23 branches throughout the 14 Syrian Governorates. Its network-wide portfolio is also expected to grow to over 86,000 loans. In order to assist in the expansion of the bank, the Prime Minister of Syria recently approved the entry of capital from foreign entities into FMFI-S. In the coming months, KfW, the International Finance Corporation, and the European Investment Bank will become shareholders of the institution so that FMFI-S can expand its financial services to the poorest populations of Syria. FMFI-S is a part of AKAM, which currently operates microfinance institutions in 14 countries throughout Asia and Africa. AKAM is a private, international, non-denominational and non-profit development agency that strives to assist vulnerable populations by providing them with a range of financial services. AKAM’s ultimate aim is to help enhance the quality of life and improve economic security. For more information, please contact: Ms. Aliyah Esmail Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance 1-3 Avenue de la Paix - 1202 Genève Tel: +41 22 909 7347 Fax: +41 22 909 7290 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org E-mail: email@example.com Ms. Bana Seifo Communication and Marketing Officer The First MicroFinance Institution (FMFI-Syria) Maysat-Jabeh, Damascus - Syria Tel: +963 11 275 79 92 Fax: +963 11 277 22 05 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.akdn.org/syria Mr. M. Adham Al-Sayed Communication Officer, Aga Khan Development Network, Syria Abou Rumaneh, Rawda Square, Abdul Kader Al-Jazairi St., Bldg No. 15 Damascus - Syria Tel: +963-11-3343610/11 Fax: +963-11-3343613 e-mail: email@example.com Website: www.akdn.org/syria NOTES About Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) Since its establishment in 2005, 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 AKAM 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 a Board of Directors and the Chairman of the Board is His Highness the Aga Khan. About The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Syria His Highness the Aga Khan is founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working, in 36 countries worldwide, to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. In Syria, programmes of the Aga Khan Development Network AKDN span seven provinces (Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Lattakia, Sweida, Homs and Tartous), serving both rural and urban populations. AKDN programmes in Syria focus on healthcare, education, microfinance, culture, cultural tourism, rural development, institution-support and the promotion of economic development. All activities undertaken by the AKDN in Syria are implemented under the Framework of a Development Agreement signed in November 2001 by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Syria.