The CGAP Microfinance Blog, which is operated by US-based think tank CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), is featuring a series on Islamic microfinance that profiles the winner and finalists of the Islamic Microfinance Challenge and others in an effort to engage with the broader microfinance and Islamic finance communities to find new ways to support the Islamic microfinance sector. The Islamic Microfinance Series can be found at http://microfinance.cgap.org/category/blog-series/islamic-microfinance-series/
CGAP has announced the winner and finalists of the Islamic Microfinance Challenge 2010, a contest sponsored by CGAP to encourage the development of viable business models for providing microfinance products that are compatible with Islamic law (Shariah). The challenge received 130 applications from 43 countries. The winner is Al Amal Microfinance Bank, Yemeni MFI that claims to the first in the Arab world to offer only Shariah-complaint products, as was announced by MicroCapital on February 18, 2011. Also short-listed were Tameer Microfinance Bank of Pakistan; Tanzania ecoVolunteerism, a Tanzanian non-governmental organization (NGO); Bina Insan Sejahtera Mandiri (BISMA), a social enterprise in Indonesia; and Center for Women’s Cooperative Development (CWCD), an NGO in Pakistan.
By: Alexandra Pattee, Research Associate
About CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor): Housed at the World Bank Group, CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) is an independent policy and research center dedicated to facilitating the provision of financial access to poor people worldwide. CGAP is supported by approximately thirty development agencies and private foundations. Its mission is to provide market intelligence, to promote standards and to offer advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors and investors.
About Al Amal Bank: Al Amal Bank was formed in 2008 with financial contributions from the Yemeni Government via the Social Fund for Development (SFD), the Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) and unspecified private actors. The bank provides individual and group loans; savings services; insurance; and project, corporate and investment financing. As of 2010, Al Amal Bank has approximately 15,000 active borrowers and 20,000 depositors. As of 2009, Al Amal Bank reported to US-based nonprofit data provider Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) a gross loan portfolio of USD 705 million. Data for total assets, return on assets (ROA) and return on equity (ROE) have not been reported to MIX by Al Amal Bank.
Sources and Resources:
 CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) Blog, February 23, 2011, “Taking Islamic Microfinance to Scale”, http://microfinance.cgap.org/2011/02/23/taking-islamic-microfinance-to-scale/
 MicroCapital.org Article, February 18, 2011, “Al Amal Bank of Yemen Wins Islamic Microfinance Challenge 2010”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-al-amal-bank-of-yemen-wins-islamic-microfinance-challenge-2010/
MicroCapital.org Article, March 7, 2011, “Malaysian Islamic Banking Team Visits Interest-Free Shariah Microfinance Program Developed by US-based Helping Hand for Relief and Development”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-malaysian-islamic-banking-team-visits-interest-free-shari?ah-microfinance-program-developed-by-us-based-helping-hand-for-relief-and-development/
MicroCapital.org Article, February 24, 2011, “Islamic Insurance Provider Tokio Marine Middle East Eyes Expansion in Egypt, Sees Political Shake-Up as Opportunity for Microinsurance”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-islamic-insurance-provider-tokio-marine-middle-east-eyes-expansion-in-egypt-sees-political-shake-up-as-opportunity-for-microinsurance/
MicroCapital.org Article, February 1, 2011, “Islamic Microfinance Network (IMFN) Launches in Pakistan, Will Serve Shariah Microlenders Worldwide”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-islamic-microfinance-network-imfn-launches-in-pakistan-will-serve-shariah-microlenders-worldwide/
MicroCapital.org Article, July 2, 2010, “International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD) Allocates $8m to Al-Amal Microfinance Bank in Yemen”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-international-fund-for-agriculture-and-development-ifad-allocates-8m-to-al-amal-microfinance-bank-in-yemen/
MicroCapital.org Article, April 6, 2010, “Microfinance Institution Farz Foundation and Insurance Provider Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Limited (PQFTL) to Provide Shari?ah-Compliant Insurance Facilities in Lahore”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-microfinance-institution-farz-foundation-and-insurance-provider-pak-qatar-family-takaful-limited-pqftl-to-provide-shari%E2%80%99ah-compliant-insurance-facilities-in-lahore/
MicroCapital.org Article, March 15, 2010, “CGAP, Deutsche Bank, Grameen-Jameel and Islamic Development Bank partner to launch Islamic Microfinance Challenge 2010”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-cgap-deutsche-bank-grameen-jameel-and-islamic-development-bank-partner-to-launch-islamic-microfinance-challenge-2010/
MicroCapital.org Article, January 12, 2010, “Al-Amal Microfinance Bank of Yemen Provides $1.5m in Loans to 5858 Low-Income Individuals in 2009”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-al-amal-microfinance-bank-of-yemen-provides-15m-in-loans-to-5858-low-income-individuals-in-2009/
MicroCapital’s Microfinance Universe: Al Amal Bank, http://www.microcapital.org/microfinanceuniverse/tiki-index.php?page=Al+Amal+Bank
MicroCapital’s Microfinance Universe: CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), http://www.microcapital.org/microfinanceuniverse/tiki-index.php?page=CGAP+%28Consultative+Group+to+Assist+the+Poor%29
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