For more than a century, the Network has been contributing to poverty alleviation and economic development in Tanzania, both on the mainland and in Zanzibar. Its investment in sub-Saharan Africa’s private sector dates as far back as the 1930s and 1940s when financial institutions were established to meet the insurance, credit and housing needs of the Ismaili community in East Africa. Thereafter, the scope was extended not only to other areas such as industry and tourism, but also to the wider population.
Today, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) is active in financial services, tourism and promoting local industries. In more remote, rural communities in southern Tanzania, where households have very limited opportunities to save or obtain loans, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) has helped nearly 170,000 women and men (66 percent women) save over $2.4 million annually by facilitating their participation in community-based savings groups.