Press Releases

IFC Helps Find Ways To Promote Sharia-Compliant Microfinance Lending

In the Middle East and North Africa:
Riham Mustafa
Phone: 00202-246914230

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 entrepreneurs.

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 growth.

“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, and Afghanistan.

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.

About IFC
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