July 30, 2005
Press Release For Immediate Release


Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 30 July 2005 - President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso and His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), today launched the First Microfinance Agency (Premiere Agence de Microfinance (PAMF) in Ouagadougou.

In the coming weeks, PAMF will commence operations in the Banfora region in association with SN Sosuco, one of the country’s largest employers.

“Microfinance can be a formidable tool for poverty alleviation,” said the Aga Khan. “It can be adapted to the needs and circumstances in a variety of contexts. Our experience over the last two decades suggests that trusting in good character, good ideas and a willingness to work hard is a sound investment.”

Representatives will serve disadvantaged communities through a network that is expected to grow to over 150 microfinance agents by 2007. Loans are intended for income-generating activities designed to improve agricultural productivity, as well as for acquiring livestock and establishing small enterprises in rural areas.

A central objective is to assist seasonal workers in the generation of income during the off-season. Loans will range from CFA 150,000 to 250,000 (US$ 300-500) and run from six months to two years. Investments in information technology will speed the process, making it possible to grant loans in as little as ten days..

After starting operations in Banfora, the programme will expand to cotton-growing areas and eventually cover five districts near the capital: Tenkodogo, Manga, Kombissori, Zorgho and Po. The range of products is expected to grow beyond credits to include savings, micro-insurance and loans for social projects.

The initiative is a programme of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM), a non-profit agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. Its main objectives are to alleviate poverty and combat social and economic exclusion. The Agency comprises over 40 institutions and programmes in 15 countries throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It manages over US$ 40 million in assets and employs 700 people.

“By establishing the First Microfinance Agency, we hope to contribute to the efforts of the government to reduce social and economic exclusion,” said Jacques Toureille, General Manager of AKAM, “and assist the men and women of Burkina Faso in becoming self-reliant while improving the overall stability and quality of their lives.”

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has been active in Burkina Faso for 25 years, notably in the areas of economic development. Through the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), it has made investments in SN Sosuco, Fasocoton and Air Burkina. AKFED is currently one of the largest employers in the country.