A microfinance pioneer from Pakistan — who developed an interest-free microfinance programme two decades ago — was among Tuesday’s winners of Asia’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize.
Muhammad Amjad Saqib, 64, won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his “first-of-its-kind” interest- and collateral-free microfinance programme that catalysed scores of poor households.
Nearly two decades after its launch, Akhuwat — founded by Dr Saqib — has grown into the nation’s largest microfinance institution, distributing the equivalent of $900 million and boasting an almost 100 per cent loan repayment rate, the award foundation said.
Saqib, who uses places of worship to hand out money, was cited for “his inspiring belief that human goodness and solidarity will find ways to eradicate poverty.”
The Ramon Magsaysay Award — named after a Filipino president killed in a plane crash — was established in 1957 to honour people and groups tackling development problems.
Its recipients include a wide range of people, from Mother Teresa to the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, as well as ten Pakistanis, with Dr. Amjad Saqib being the latest recipient. Other Pakistani award winners include: Akhtar Hameed Khan (1963), Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi ( 1986), Shoaib Sultan Khan (1992), Asma Jehangir (1995), Dr. Adibul Hassan Rizvi ( 1998), Tasneem Ahmad Siddiqui ( 1999), Dr. Ruth Pfao ( 2002), I.A. Rehman ( 2004) and The Citizen Foundation ( 2014)
Prime Minister Imran Khan has congratulated Saqib for winning “Asia’s highest honour”.
“We are proud of his achievement as we move forward in creating a welfare state based on Riyasat-e-Madina Model,” he tweeted.