DR. AMJAD SAQIB
The social entrepreneur
Dr. Amjad Saqib, a revered Pakistani philanthropist and founder of Akhuwat Foundation, has been conferred with this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award for his extraordinary contributions to the eradication of poverty in the South Asian country. The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation Board described him as: “A visionary who founded one of the largest microfinance institutions in Pakistan, servicing millions of families.”
Accepting this unique and highly distinguished honour, Dr Saqib dedicated this award to the poor beneficiaries of Akhuwat and to Pakistani nation. He said this award is endorsement of Akhuwat, an interest-free lending model and a tribute to the compassion and integrity of the nation.
Dr Amjad Saqibs’ career
Born on 1 February 1957, in Kamalia, a small city of the Punjab province, Dr Amjad Saqib graduated from King Edward Medical College, Lahore, and completed a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from American University in Washington DC.
From 1985 to 2003, he served in the Pakistan Administrative Service (formerly District Management Group) after which he worked as a consultant to international organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, International Labour Organization, UNICEF and World Bank. His areas of expertise included poverty alleviation, microfinance, social mobilisation and education.
Dr Saqib is many things – a former bureaucrat, author of eight books, recipient of many national and international awards including Sitar-e-Imtiaz of Pakistan, the Islamic Economy Award presented by Crown Prince of Dubai and Thomson Reuters, the Commonwealth’s 31st Point of Light Award presented by Queen Elizabeth II, and the Social Entrepreneur of the Year presented by the World Economic Forum and Schwab Foundation, has addressed the UN, and esteemed platforms of schools of Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford.
Dr Saqib is a development professional and a former civil servant who founded Akhuwat in 2001 in accordance with the Islamic principle of MawaKhat or brotherhood. The organization is now the largest interest-free microfinance institution in the world and works in collaboration with state and civil society.
Nearly two decades after its launch, Akhuwat has grown into the nation’s largest microfinance institution, distributing the equivalent of $900 million and boasting an almost 100 percent loan repayment rate, the award foundation said.
Akhuwat offers loan packages to the poor. It has proffered 4.5 million interest-free loans amounting to Rs128 billion to families all across Pakistan.
Akhuwat uses places of worship, be it a mosque, church or temple, for loan disbursements, according to the award’s official website. It aims at transforming borrowers into donors, and fosters diversity and inclusion, serving anyone regardless of religion, caste, colour and gender.
In electing Dr Amjad Saqib to receive the 2021 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes the intelligence and compassion that enabled him to create the largest microfinance institution in Pakistan; his inspiring belief that human goodness and solidarity will find ways to eradicate poverty; and his determination to stay with a mission that has already helped millions of Pakistani families.
About the Ramon Magsaysay Award
Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s highest honour. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.
Magsaysay Foundation, Philippine, confers three to four awards each year from amongst selfless leaders out of 40 countries of the Asian continent. Few previous awardees include Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama and Nobel Laureate Dr Muhamamd Yunus.
Moreover, Pakistan’s committed rural development leader Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan was the first from the country to win Magsaysay Award in 1963, Later, renowned social workers Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi were given the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service in 1986. Among other distinguished Pakistanis who won this award for their services to the society include: One of the pioneers of rural development programs in Pakistan ‘Shoaib Sultan Khan’ (1992), human rights activist ‘Asma Jahangir’ (1995), the founder and the head of one of Pakistan’s largest public health organizations ‘Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi’ (1998), former bureaucrat and a social activist who led the Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority (SKAA) ‘Tasneem Ahmed Siddiqui’ (1999), a German-Pakistani nun and a crusader against leprosy Dr Ruth Pfau (2002), renowned journalist and human rights activist IA Rehman (2004) and an NGO ‘The Citizens Foundation’ (2014).