The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries face numerous challenges, including lack of financing, skills and limited capacities, specifically for women-run enterprises. In Sudan, women and youth are unable to get financial assistance through banks, as they cannot provide guarantees and the required collateral.
Towards a Solution
The Family Bank was established with a capital of USD 35 million to assist women-run enterprises to play their role in the economic growth of their countries. The bank’s portfolio provides micro-financing for start-ups, productive families, women and youth.
Since its inception, the Bank has expanded throughout Sudan, with 42 branches offering services to targeted under-served segments of society. The bank’s main objective is to alleviate poverty and provide employment to youth and women.
The Sudanese Businesswomen’s Association, which is part of the Sudanese Businessmen and Employers Federation, sought support from the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA), Khartoum state and the Central Bank in 2008 to establish a microfinance institution that would primarily assist women by financing small projects and microenterprises. The Family Bank was established in response to this request for greater financial inclusion. The project was implemented to help alleviate poverty, provide employment and facilitate the development projects and other initiatives of graduates, youth and women by ensuring greater access to financing.
Prior to finalizing locations for the bank’s branches, a study was conducted to ensure that bank branches would be distributed geographically and would take social, economic, technical and budgetary conditions into consideration. Based on the study’s findings, offices were established in densely populated areas and resources were made available to provide microfinance to the target populations. The branches were set up to ensure proper access to services to the targeted population. Windows are offices that serve certain categories or segments of the microfinance target population, such as pension centres, the Women’s Union, the graduates’ centres and the Union of Craftsmen.
The Bank works through complementary entities such as social organizations which support its role to achieve financial coverage. These organizations are represented in the following: National Youth Union – Youth Stability Project; National Fund for the Employment of Graduates; Association of Working Women; and various other organizations and associations.
Some successful initiatives (women’s projects) include: household projects (baking and pastry making, food processing, herbal cosmetics manufacturing, perfume manufacturing, fish drying and salting); broiler chicken projects; animal farming; and, handicrafts and workshops. The total financing facilities provided for women’s projects amounted to 577.6 million Sudanese pounds and the number of beneficiaries totalled 84,363 (32 per cent of total beneficiaries). This Family Bank initiative was made possible by implementing the comprehensive annual plans developed based on the First Strategic Plan (2009-2013) and the Second Strategic Plan (2015-2019). These Plans seek to empower and rehabilitate weaker segments of the society that were economically active but needed additional support. This initiative was also endorsed and supported by Khartoum state and the Central Bank in 2008. The Bank’s financial position reflects sound and sustainable performance.
Some of the Bank’s leading and successful initiatives include the Education Product, an innovative banking product, through which the bank finances tuition fees at all levels of education. Through the Social Dimension Project, the Bank of Sudan recently approved social financing with microfinance products for village lighting, water networks and construction of healthcare centres through popular committees and village representatives, in coordination with municipalities and official administrative units. Additionally, the Business Incubator product is a form of collective funding. It offers additional advantages because it supports entrepreneurs with ambitious ideas, helps to finance technical and economic studies, and provides the resources and working environment needed during the critical first years of a project.
In cooperation with the Bahrain-based Arab International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Investment (AICEI) and UNIDO, the Bank has also established the National Centre for Entrepreneurship, which provides non-financial services to start-ups and young entrepreneurs. From 2008-2017, funding totalled 1.82 billion Sudanese pounds and beneficiaries totalled 269,046. This project contributed greatly to the country’s social and economic well-being. The Bank has helped to alleviate poverty, provide employment and assist in the development projects of the graduates, youth and women by offering financial inclusion services to them.
The ICCIA has already approached OIC policymakers to introduce appropriate policies, legislation and a regulatory framework that will support the replication of these projects and ideas in other developing countries. This is scheduled to be proposed during the OIC Ministerial Meeting to be held in November 2018.
Countries/ territories involved: OIC Countries
Supported by: Khartoum state and the Central Bank of Sudan
Implementing entities: Sudanese Businessmen and Employers Federation
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: – 2008-Present
URL of the practice: http://www.familybank.sd
Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA), Pakistan ; firstname.lastname@example.org