Bahrain Launches First Poor People's Bank

Feb 2009
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February, 12 2009 - Bahrain has become the first Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state to launch a bank for extending micro-credit facilities for the poor.

The Ibda'a (Creativity) Bank was launched jointly by Shaikha Sabeeka Bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa, King Hamad's wife and chairwoman of Bahrain's Supreme Council for Women, and Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, president of the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organisation in Manama on Wednesday evening.

The bank, a joint venture of Agfund, will support low income Bahrainis with small loans to start their own businesses.

Speaking on the occasion, Prince Talal congratulated Bahrain on becoming the first country in the Gulf to set up such a bank.

"This step reflects the firm determination of the leadership of Bahrain in addressing hard realities existing in the society with a visionary approach. I am confident that the bank will contribute in creating a rise in employment and improve the social and economic empowerment of Bahraini women," he said.

According to a press release issued by the office of Prince Talal in Riyadh yesterday, the bank, with a capital investment of $5 million (Dh18.35 million), aims at helping 1,000 Bahrainis in its first year and 5,000 by the end of the second year of operation.

The bank's capital is raised by the Agfund, the Housing Bank and Bahrain's private sector. Prince Talal commended Bahrain for its positive response in implementing Agfund-financed development projects in the Kingdom.

"Launching of the bank for extending micro-credit to the low income people in the society was the real manifestation of Bahrain's opening up to address its development problems.

This is not to be considered as sheer local problem in the wake of the global financial crisis that erupted for the first time in the US and started spilling over to other parts of the world," the prince said in the statement.

Prince Talal noted that Agfund has embarked on the initiative of launching banks for extending micro credit to the poor with a strategic partnership with Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Professor Mohammad Younus, father of the Grameen Bank movement.

Source :

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