First MicroFinanceBank pioneers housing finance in Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan, 8 October 2008 – The First MicroFinanceBank - Afghanistan (FMFB), an institution of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM), will introduce a line of loan products designed to address the housing needs of poor and low-income Afghans and improve living conditions in the country. The introduction follows on the back of a successful pilot and will be supported with lines of credit and technical assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The supply of housing finance is limited in Afghanistan as most microfinance institutions and banks do not offer housing loans, in part because the legal and regulatory framework does not support traditional mortgage lending. To bridge this gap, FMFB and IFC have joined forces to ensure that families have access to affordable housing loans. Muslim-ul-Haq, CEO of FMFB, said, “We are confident that with IFC’s technical assistance, we can offer products that help meet the housing needs of the majority of Afghans who currently do not have access to housing finance.” Syed Farhan Fasihuddin, IFC Manager for Housing Finance Advisory Services in Middle East and North Africa, said, “Our aim is to improve the living standards of people in Afghanistan’s economically challenged communities. We hope to build on our long-term relationship with the FMFB in our effort to achieve this objective.” This initiative is part of a global AKAM strategy to introduce housing finance products into most of its field institutions in the next three years. Housing finance is part of the AKAM mission to ensure that the services offered go beyond the economic needs of clients and contribute to improvements in the quality of life. AKAM and IFC already collaborated in the establishment of FMFB in 2004, with IFC providing an equity investment of US$1 million. More recently, IFC extended a long-term loan of US$4.5 million to support the bank’s activities in microfinance, housing finance, and small- and medium-enterprise lending. NOTES About FMFB Since receiving the first banking license in Afghanistan in 2003, the First MicroFinanceBank - Afghanistan has become one of the country’s leading financial-services providers. The bank contributes to poverty alleviation and economic development by offering sustainable financial services that target micro- and small-businesses and individual households. FMFB is a subsidiary of the Aga Khan Agency of Microfinance (AKAM) and has seventeen branches across the country. About AKAM Since its establishment in 2005, the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance has brought together over 25 years of microfinance activities, programmes and banks that were administered by sister agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network. The underlying objectives of the Agency are to reduce poverty, diminish the vulnerability of poor populations and alleviate economic and social exclusion. AKAM is a not-for-profit, non-denominational, international development agency created under Swiss law. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors, with His Highness the Aga Khan serving as Chairman. About IFC IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. It fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. New investments totaled US$ 16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
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