Recognizing the important development potential of Awqaf, IsDB pioneered the financing of a number of Waqf projects prior to the establishment of the Awqaf Properties Investment Fund (APIF). These projects represent IsDB’s earliest efforts to provide material support to the concept of Awqaf.
Subsequently, APIF was established based on the approval of the 6th meeting of Awqaf Ministers of Member Countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1997.
APIF helped institutionalize IsDB’s approach to Awqaf promotion via financing the development of Awqaf real estate properties, with a special focus on the properties to be invested for the utilization of their income as per the condition(s) of the endower, since this form of Awqaf would be conducive to repaying the financing from the income of the property itself. As a fund that distributed dividends, APIF brought an element of impact investment to encourage resource mobilization for Awqaf.
The Resources of APIF
The IsDB along with nine other institutions created APIF in 2001 with total subscriptions of US$50 million.
As of now, there are 15 participants in APIF comprising IsDB, Ministries of Awqaf, Awqaf Organizations and Islamic banks with a total paid-up capital of US$87.7 million. To augment the resources of APIF, the IsDB has extended a US$100 million line of financing for APIF to be utilized for the financing of APIF’s projects.
The Role of APIF
APIF participates in the financing of Waqf (or endowment) income generating commercial and residential real estate properties. It does not finance the construction of schools, universities, mosques, health facilities and the like.
The APIF portfolio, as of the end of 2019, includes 54 completed or active projects, totaling US$ 1.19 billion in total value. Of this, IsDB’s contribution includes US$ 180 million from APIF and US$ 256 million from the IsDB line of financing and the remaining is from the beneficiaries.
APIF helps Awqaf and charitable organizations fulfil their mandate by providing required resources to develop Waqf land owned by these organizations, renovate Waqf properties, and/or purchase property to be utilized as Waqf. Supported Waqf institutions or charitable organizations are then expected to utilize the rental income generated by such projects to support their social and charitable activities.
APIF aims at reviving the Islamic Sunnah of Waqf by developing Awqaf properties around the world to increase their returns and thereby contribute to the sustainable socio-economic development of the Ummah.
The objective of APIF is to ensure the sustainability, financial independence and social development of philanthropy organizations for the benefit of the Islamic Ummah.
APIF’s strategy relies on extending financing to develop and invest in accordance with the principles of Islamic Sharia, in Awqaf real estate properties, such as residential and commercial buildings, that are socially, economically, and financially viable, in either Member or Non-Member Countries. Thus, the value of the Waqf properties is increased and, from being idle, they are transformed into fully income-generating assets of high standing.
Operational Model of APIF and the Project Life Cycle
In a nutshell, APIF helps organizations engaged in activities of a developmental value achieve financial sustainability through financing the development of Waqf land or facilitating the establishment of entirely new charitable endowments. With a financial contribution of at least 25 percent of the total project cost or a suitable plot of land (in case of a greenfield project) provided by the beneficiary, APIF finances the construction, renovation and/or purchase of an income-generating real estate asset. Typically, the project is designed such that the repayments on APIF financing are made entirely from the income of the project itself, ideally with a significant amount remaining to support the beneficiary’s activities during the repayment period. After the financing is repaid, all income generated goes to support the beneficiary’s activities in perpetuity. This model is summarized in Figure, below.
The life cycle of APIF projects is mostly similar to other development projects executed by IsDB, with a few notable exceptions. First, unlike sovereign projects, the initiating document can be a formal request from either a non-sovereign or a sovereign entity. Indeed, APIF is one of the few sources of financing within IsDB that does not require a sovereign guarantee.
Second, APIF can consider requests from organizations operating in MCs and NMCs, alike.
Third, emphasis is placed on early legal and compliance (KYC) due-diligence. This is because APIF projects are designed to financially empower organizations already engaged in developmentally usefully activities through providing them with financial sustainability. Thus, the legality and merit of the beneficiary’s activities as well as the integrity of its key members must be established early-on, as APIF does not intervene in the specific development activities of the organization.
A further distinguishing feature of the APIF project lifecycle is the financial metrics of interest during the appraisal stage. Here, the crucial metrics are the Financial Internal Rate of Return (FIRR) as well as the Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR). Indeed, unlike typical sovereign development projects, most APIF projects are expected to depend on income from the project itself for repayment and are otherwise unjustified if they fail to cover debt installments (since the sole purpose of the projects is income generation). Ideally, beyond providing a factor of safety, the DSCR should be large enough to allow income over-and-above the installment amounts to be available to support beneficiary activities even during the repayment period.