It will probably take me quite a few articles, dear reader, to adequately describe he many aspects of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN)
Many people in the U.S. (and I am going to go out on a limb and assume the same is true for Europe) haven't a clue about who His Highness the Aga Khan is. And it would take many more articles to give an adequate and fair treatment to that subject. So, at this point I will just say that the current Aga Kahn is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and the fourth in the line of persons to hold the honorary hereditary title of "Aga Khan," which was first granted by the Shah of Persia to the 46th Ismaili Imam in the 1830s.
For more information about His Highness the Aga Kahn, you may go to the following link:
The Aga Khan Development Network, founded by the current Aga Khan, is a group of private, non-denominational institutions and development agencies whose aim is to improve living conditions and future prospects for communities, regardless of religion or origin, in specific regions of the developing world, notably in Asia and Africa.
The list of those agencies is as follows:
Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM)
Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)
Aga Khan Education Services (AKES)
Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED)
Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS)
Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS)
Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)
Aga Khan University (AKU)
The University of Central Asia (UCA)
Some of these agencies have been operating since before the founding of the AKDF itself.
Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), for example is the AKDN's economic development agency, but its companies have been active in East Africa since 1936. And since that time they have expanded into Central and West Africa as well.
In 19 countries located South and Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa AKFED has operatee in the areas of industry, financial services, and in the development of tourism, infrastructure, media and aviation.
Approximately 18,000 employees work for over 100 companies affiliated with AKFED projects. These companies manage total assets exceeding US$1.5 billion.
For over 30 years, AKFED has been active in the West African nations of Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso. Its projects there have included aviation, transport packaging and other packaging products, agro-industry and infrastructure. Some 6,000 people work for the 20 companies controlled by AKFED's West African subsidiary IPS (WA). IPS (WA) also now has major holdings in a transport packaging and a metals company in Mali, and a minority shareholding in a Malian energy company.
AKFED's web site says that "with its affiliates the Tourism Promotion Services, Industrial Promotion Service, and Financial Services, (it seeks) to strengthen the role of the private sector in developing countries by supporting private sector initiatives in the development process. The Fund and the Foundation also encourage government policies that foster what the Aga Khan first called an 'enabling environment' of favourable legislative and fiscal structures."
And although it is providing this vital service, AKFED is a for-profit institution. The Fund helps to build economically viable enterprises through strong equity participation, and it combines this with management and technical expertise and support. The true nature of AKFED is that it is a n international development agency. But it focus on bringing this development to specific regions of the developing world by promoting entrepreneurship in the private sector.
While its investments seem spread over many industries, AKFED says that it actually focuses in three sectors: Industry, Tourism and Financial Services. The industrial development sector of its focus gives it a wide perspective and includes companies engaged in industries ranging from agro-industry to metal products, printing and packaging, telecommunications and power generation.
In the area of promoting tourism, AKFED builds and manages hotels and lodges that contribute to economic growth in an environmentally sensitive manner. The financial institutions in their portfolio include banks, insurance and property management companies and micro-credit programs.
Combining international investment and know-how with local experience and entrepreneurial skills, AKFED is creating partnerships among local institutions and individuals and leading multilateral development agencies and development banks.
With an emphasis on equity investment AKFED also participates in privatization projects and also floats its companies' shares on national stock exchanges. But this ia not the only evidence of commitment on the part of AKFED. The Fund also takes a hands-on approach to its projects. This approach emphasizes the development of human resources, particularly management, technical, marketing, and financial expertise.
AKFED is also committed to being sensitive to the impact of its investments on the human and physical environment in order to "foster a sound and socially responsible private sector in the developing world."
An example of AKFED's commitment to its goals was witnessed in February 2005 when AKFED in partnership with the Mali government and private investors committed to the commercial aviation sector in West Africa by creating a new national airline.
According to sources, the Mali government appointed AKFED's IPS (WA) to create the new airline, with a capital of CFA francs 3 billion which equals approximately US$5.6 million. Fifty one percent of the airline will be owned by a subsidiary of AKFED/IPS (WA) created specifically for that purpose. Other private investors will own twenty nine percent of the airline and the Mali government will own twenty percent.
You will be hearing a lot more from me about AKDN and its agencies, as I will write about them from time to time. But if you are anxious to know more about the great things that these organizations are doing, please surf on over to the web site of the Aga Khan Development Network at http://www.akdn.org/ or follow the links to its agencies, and see for your self what commitment can do.