AKFED enterprises are amongst the largest employers in the developing countries

One of the great principles of Islam, in all its interpretations, is the elimination of poverty in society, and philanthropy’s centrality in this duty.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Global Philanthropy Forum

Mawlana Hazar Imam arrives in Banfora during his Golden Jubilee visit to tour the Sosuco sugar factory (Photo: The Ismaili Canada/Gary Otte)
Mawlana Hazar Imam arrives in Banfora during his Golden Jubilee visit to tour the Sosuco sugar factory, an AKFED enterprise and one of the largest employers in the country (Photo: The Ismaili Canada/Gary Otte)

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) is an international development agency dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and building economically sound enterprises in the developing world. AKFED focuses on building enterprises in parts of the world that lack sufficient foreign direct investment.

For more than 50 years, AKFED has made investments and operated companies in the developing nations of Africa, South Asia and Central Asia. AKFED operates as a network of affiliates with more than 90 project companies employing over 47,000 people. The Fund is active in 17 countries in the developing world: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Uganda.*

In the early 1960s, a group of companies was set up under the corporate name Industrial Promotion Services (IPS). Each company was created to provide venture capital, technical assistance and management support to encourage and expand private enterprise in countries of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. New investments were made in the emerging economies of Central Asia in the 1990s and 2000s, in particular, in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Today, IPS companies play a vital role in local and regional economies.**

One of IPS’s core operational sectors, agro-processing, includes companies that supply goods for both local and export markets. They also play a significant role in supporting the rural economy.

In Kenya, for example, Frigoken provides agricultural extension services to 35,000 Kenyan bean farmers. The beans are processed and exported to European markets. Loans are provided to the farmers by the non-profit Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance to assist them with financial needs that arise prior to receiving harvest revenues.**

In West Africa, AKFED supplies agricultural extension services to more than 60,000 cotton farmers, operates cotton ginneries and exports finished products. Its social programmes offer microfinance, education, health and access to water to the farmers. In addition to promoting the employment of women, these companies have become national role models in matters of employee welfare, including the provision of child care and health care.

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Rahim tour the Filtisac grounds Golden Jubilee visit to West Africa (Photo: The Ismaili Canada/Gary Otte)
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Rahim tour the Filtisac grounds during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee visit to West Africa (Photo: The Ismaili Canada/Gary Otte)

The Filtisac Cote d’Ivoire, a manufacturer of jute, polypropylene and polyethylene bags for the agricultural trade, is one of the oldest entities of AKFED in the region. Mawlana Hazar Imam presided over the opening in Abidjan in 1965 under the network of IPS, West Africa, now part of AKFED.

The Sosuco sugar plant in Banfora, Burkina Faso, another AKFED project, is one of the largest employers in the country.**

AKFED’s numerous investments include Azito Energy project in West Africa; Tsavo Power plant in Mombasa, Kenya; Bujagali Hydropower project in Uganda; The Pamir Energy Company in Khorog, Tajikistan supplying energy from the cross-border regions of Tajik Ishkashim into Afghan Ishkashim. Its services comprise Financial ServicesTourism Promotion Services and Serena Hotels, Industry and Infrastructure, Media Services, Aviation Services, Integrating Health, and “Roshan” Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd.

Roshan, winner of several awards in Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility,  is Afghanistan’s leading total communications provider with over six million active subscribers and a network that covers over 240 cities and towns in all of the country’s 34 provinces. Since inception in 2003, Roshan has invested approximately $600 million in Afghanistan. It is the country’s largest investor and taxpayer, contributing approximately 5% of the Afghan government’s overall domestic revenue. Roshan directly employs more than 1,100 people, of which 19% are women, and provides indirect employment to more than 30,000 people. Fortune’s Change the World 2015 List includes AKFED’s Roshan.

Visit AKFED companies for a listing of companies operating in each country.

For more information, visit Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development.

*Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development
**Industrial Promotion Services
The Ismaili Canada, Issue 2, 2008

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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