Mohammad Amjad Saqib, a pioneer of microfinance in Pakistan, is among the three recipients of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel. He has joined the ranks of distinguished Pakistanis — of whom the most notable are Nobel laureates physicist Dr Abdus Salam and Malala Yusafzai — who have brought laurels to the country, making the whole nation proud. Like his predecessors, Amjad too was charged with the spirit of serving humanity. He had a dream to serve those in need and worked tirelessly to make his dream come true, and thus helped a large number of people who wanted to earn an honest and decent living but were constrained due to the lack of money. He gave them a helping hand by providing them with sufficient amounts of money without collaterals to start small businesses.
For this purpose, Amjad founded a microfinance institution named Akhuwat 20 years ago. Now it is the country’s top microfinance organisation. So far it has distributed millions of rupees equivalent to $9 million dollars in loans, and the rate of recovery is 100%. The fact that beneficiaries have responded responsibly has given the necessary impetus to Amjad to increase the outreach of his free-of-charge financing plan. Realising that in countries like Pakistan places of worship function as social powerhouses, he chose sacred venues to disburse the loan money. His idea aided in furthering the cause of providing small finance to those in need. The Magsaysay organisation has mentioned him in the award citation in these words, “his inspiring belief that human goodness and solidarity will find ways to eradicate poverty.” This aptly describes his zeal to provide the poor with small loans with no strings attached to enable them to make an honest living.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has congratulated Amjad for receiving Asia’s Nobel Prize, saying his work will help contribute towards the endeavours to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state. Now Mohammad Yunus of Bangladesh is not alone in alleviating poverty. Amjad stands shoulder to shoulder with him.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2021.
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