Dubai, November 3, 2008—IFC, a
member of the World Bank Group, is helping governments and financial institutions
find new ways to serve the poor in the Middle East and North Africa by
hosting a workshop on how Islamic finance could be used to support microfinance
The workshop in Dubai, which is being
hosted today by IFC and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, brings
together microfinance experts, government officials, and Islamic finance
specialists who will discuss ways to address the challenges surrounding
implementation of Sharia-compliant microfinance initiatives.
Many people in Islamic countries do
not use conventional banking services for religious and cultural reasons.
Making Islamic finance products more easily available in these countries
could help people at the bottom of the economic pyramid and promote economic
“Building partnerships between the
Islamic finance and microfinance industries can better serve the poor,
which is critical in the battle against poverty in the Middle East,” said
Momina Aijazuddin, IFC Program Manager.
Islamic microfinance has an estimated
global reach of only 380,000 customers and accounts for only about half
of one percent of total microfinance outreach, according to a 2007 global
survey by CGAP, which collected information on more than 125 institutions
and contacted experts from 19 Islamic countries. The supply of Islamic
microfinance is concentrated in a few countries—mainly Indonesia, Bangladesh,
Microfinance has proved to be a critical
tool in the fight against poverty and is now entering the financial mainstream.
Yet it still reaches less than 20 percent of the potential market among
the world’s poorest people. IFC is the largest international investor
in terms of outreach to microfinance institutions, operating in more than
60 countries. IFC’s total committed investment portfolio in microfinance
is $848 million, with $315 million invested in the financial year ending
June 30, 2008.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives.
We foster 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. Our new investments
totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous
year. For more information, visit