During his visit to Kenya in July 1991, Mowlana Hazar Imam, Chairman of the Board of the Aga Khan Foundation, announced a contribution of KES 30 million "to double the pledges already made by donors to the endowment fund established by the Aga Khan Foundation, Kenya".
Mowlana Hazar Imam said that he wanted to recognise the extreme generosity of the donors and the good work done by the Foundation in establishing this endowment. With Mowlana Hazar Imam's contribution, the endowment fund now stands at KES 60 million in pledges.
The fund was launched by Aga Khan Foundation, Kenya in June 1990. In his keynote address at the launch ceremony, the then Minister for Education Hon. Peter Oloo Aringo had lauded *Aga Khan Foundation's new initiative - the first of its kind in Kenya - which symbolised the Foundation's strong commitment to social development in Kenya. "In view of the changing economic conditions of the world", the Minister said "it is even more important that we look creatively to harnessing local resources for our own advancement. And here, in this endowment scheme, is an excellent method by which local organisations can be encouraged to build corpus funds which will serve as a lasting capital."
The concept of an endowment is simple: the capital sum is invested and only a portion of the earned income is utilised toward programmes. The balance is reinvested as a hedge against inflation. If the original corpus attracts other donations - and sufficient of the income is ploughed back - then, over the years ahead, the capital will continue to grow, serving the present and future generation of beneficiaries in equal proportions.
It is a survival principle, one which has been well applied in many of the prestigious educational institutions of the West: the British public schools and the American universities. The experience of Harvard University provides a dramatic model of an endowment.
John Harvard's original gift of Pounds 780 has stimulated one of the largest endowments in the United States: it now stands at US $4.7 billion!
The Foundation's endowment in Kenya is the first attempt by an NGO to begin the effort of building for the future!
Source: The Ismaili Africa (December 1991)
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