Akhuwat- Making Pakistan stronger one step at a time
Akhuwat Foundation is an NGO with the world’s largest interest-free microfinance lending program. Started in 2001, with the vision to empower the citizens of Pakistan economically through interest free microfinance and education. The employees of an organisation are the building blocks which help create the vision of the company into a reality. Akhuwat is one such NGO, which strives to help the poor create a source of monthly income for their families.
We got in touch with one of the employees of Akhuwat Foundation to know more about the organisation and its employees. Read below to find out more.
Q) Can you please tell a little about yourself and how you became a part of the Akhuwat family?
A) My name is Yusra Tasneem, and I started working as the Special Projects Coordinator at Akhuwat about a year back. I believe that you should work for a company where your vision/values are aligned. I always believed in giving back to the society by providing employment, health, education and a better living standard to people. Akhuwat worked in all of the avenues.
Q) What is the idea behind Akhuwat and how did this come into being?
A) A widow lady came to Dr. Amjad Saqib, CEO of Akhuwat, because she wanted to buy a sewing machine to support her family. An initial loan of Rs. 10,000 was given to her. She returned the loan 6 months later, and urged Dr. Saqib to use this money to support another needy person like her. With this encouragement, Akhuwat came into existence 17 years ago, and started its flagship project of providing interest-free loans to start up small businesses.
Akhuwat comes from Mu’akhaat which means brotherhood.The term was coined in 622 A.D. when immigrants from Mecca fled persecution at the time of migration by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Mua-khaat was the result of the citizens of Medina sharing their wealth and establishing a bond of brotherhood with the migrants of Mecca.
Q) Describe Akhuwat in a sentence?
A) As mentioned above, Akhuwat is brotherhood and Akhuwat works on the philosophy of sharing of resources
Q) How did Akhuwat impact you as a person?
A) It has made me realize that serving the community can make me grow intrinsically and extrinsically. The happiness I get from seeing the smiles on our students’ faces is priceless.
Q) What are some of the challenges NGOs particularly Akhuwat faces?
A) Fundraising is a major challenge. It’s unfortunate that we have a smaller pool of funds but a larger number of people to serve. There’s so much left to do, so many more people to help. However, due to lack of resources, we also become helpless.
Q) How do you overcome those challenges?
A) A big thank you goes to our donors and patrons for supporting us in serving our mission. Without them, Akhuwat would not exist.
Q) What is the biggest misconception about Akhuwat?
A) People need to understand that we serve the poorest of the poor, specially those who do not have means to live through the day even. It’s through these loans that their lives change.
8) Akhuwat institutionalizes the use of local religious places, such as mosques and temples as centers for loan distribution. Can you shed some light on that?
A) We disburse loans at religious places to establish to our borrowers that God is our witness, and we are solely doing it to please Him and have no other incentive or profit in mind. The borrowers also become a part of this social contract and they become obliged to return loans.
The values of Akhuwat are Eeman, Ehsan,Ikhlas and Infaq. Eeman is the believe in Allah, the Prophet (PBUH) and the day of judgement. Ehsan is beauty in our words and actions. Ikhlas is sincerity in our actions. While, Infaq is doing good in the way of Allah. Therefore, religious places seem apt for loan disbursement.
Q) What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?
A) NJV School is my favorite project that I have worked on. I love everything about the school like its rich history of over 160 years, its grand infrastructure where its listed as one of the 600 heritage sites in Karachi and the students as well.
Q) Where do you see Akhuwat in the next 5 years?
A) Doing good, spreading good…. Helping people establish more small businesses, imparting education to more students, providing employment opportunity to more transgenders, providing clothes and dignified life to more underprivileged students.
Q) How can one become a part of the Akhuwat family?
A) Visit us at NJV School at Main MA Jinnah Road Karachi and join us for our different causes!