Canada NewsWire
July 23, 2003

Corporate Sector Boosts International Microfinance Internship Program

OTTAWA, July 23 /CNW/ - Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) has established a partnership with Northwater Capital Management Inc. to help finance an expansion of a program that sends young professionals to developing countries to gain experience in the field of microfinance and microenterprise.

Over the next three years, the Northwater Foundation will sponsor an increasing number of internships in the Fellowship in International Microfinance and Microenterprise (IMM program). Northwater Capital Management Inc., a prominent investment management company based in Toronto and New York, will support two internships starting in 2003-2004, increasing to four positions in 2004-2005 and six positions in 2005-2006.

The IMM program, which started three years ago based on AKFC's effective and longstanding Fellowship in International Development Management (IDM program), provides opportunities for Canadian youth to participate in international development by working with local organizations involved in microfinance, a key mechanism for fostering social and economic development in poor countries.

The IDM program began in 1985 as a professional management training and overseas internship program for outstanding young Canadians committed to pursuing a career in international development. During the program's 14-year life span, more than 150 Canadians have completed this unique professional experience; this year the program has 13 highly skilled and motivated participants, who will travel to Kenya, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Bangladesh and India for their internships. The IMM program, launched in 2001, builds upon the success of the IDM program, with a specific orientation toward the microfinance/microenterprise sector. This year, five participants are taking part in a four-week management seminar and will travel to eight-month overseas placements in Bangladesh and India, where they will gain invaluable experience working with pioneers in the field of microfinance and microenterprise.

Aga Khan Foundation Canada sponsors the IDM and IMM programs in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency.

Northwater first supported the IMM program last year and has increased its involvement for the 2003-2006 period. Robert Rafos, a managing director of Northwater, said that AKFC's internship model fit with the company's global philanthropy belief in "helping people to develop themselves" in the long term, adding that "It's very much worthwhile to step outside of North America and experience first-hand how people live elsewhere". "We need to build a better context for what's going on in the world today."

Nazeer Aziz Ladhani, Chief Executive Office of AKFC, said that the support from Northwater will allow the Foundation to double the number of IMM interns in the field to 10 from 5 by 2006 and provides flexibility to send Canadians to additional areas of need in Africa and Asia. "This program responds to a growing demand for young professionals with practical experience in this exciting and rapidly evolving domain," he said. "The Foundation's human resources exchanges have evolved into substantive programs that provide rich learning opportunities for youth in the developed and developing world."

Aga Khan Foundation Canada is a non-profit social development agency established in Canada in 1980 that supports programs in Asia and Africa without regard to race, religion, political affiliation or gender. It is a member of the Aga Khan Development Network, a non-denominational group of agencies established by His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, which is dedicated to improving living conditions in some of the poorest countries of the developing world.

For further information: Nazeer Aziz Ladhani, Aga Khan Foundation
Canada, Ottawa, Canada, Telephone: 613.237.2532 (ext 109), Fax: 613.567.2532,
Email:; Peter Jones, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, Ottawa,
Canada, Telephone: 613.237.2532 (ext 113), Fax: 613.567.2532, Email: