Novel Solutions Needed to Tackle Poverty, Foster Prosperity - Dr. Al Jasser

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 2 June 2022 - The task of fighting poverty and fostering shared prosperity across our communities requires novel approaches, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and Group Chairman, Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, says.

Dr. Al Jasser made the statement during the opening of the 16th IsDB Global Forum on Islamic Finance held on the side lines of the 2022 IsDB Group Annual Meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The forum, themed: ‘Social Entrepreneurship for Shared Prosperity’, was organized by the Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDBI) and discussed the role of social innovation and entrepreneurship in confronting poverty and fostering shared prosperity.

Dr. Al Jasser observed that the combined health and economic crises caused by COVID-19 have resulted in rising poverty and widening inequalities around the world, disproportionately affecting vulnerable groups.

In view of this, the IsDB President said that novel socially responsible solutions are needed to tackle poverty. Such solutions would include social innovations that create value by filling the gaps left in the market often caused by market failures.

“In the broader social innovation ecosystem, social entrepreneurship plays a critical role, as entrepreneurship is essential for innovation, job creation, and economic growth,” Dr. Al Jasser added.

The IsDB Group Chairman said: “While fighting poverty has always been at the core of IsDB’s partnerships and engagements, the COVID-19 pandemic has further compelled us as a development institution to strengthen our efforts in this endeavour to ensure a more inclusive recovery in our Member Countries.”

He observed that some IsDB Member Countries have made remarkable successes in reducing poverty significantly over the years, and it was therefore worth tracking and highlighting the success stories of those countries to serve as a motivation for policymakers and development institutions in other countries.

Earlier, Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director-General of IsDBI and IsDB Group Chief Economist, delivered the welcome address and pointed out that achieving the mission of Islamic finance requires working along two dimensions: innovation and social solidarity. The forum therefore has two sessions: One addressing poverty, the other social entrepreneurship.

Following the opening session, the first panel session highlighted a joint initiative between the IsDB Institute and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) to apply multi-dimensional measures of poverty in selected Member Countries including Egypt. Speakers in the session were Dr. Ahmed Kamali, Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Egypt; Dr. Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI; Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director General of the IsDBI and IsDB Group Chief Economist; and Mr. Mohamed Ashmawy, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Nasser Social Bank, Egypt.

The second panel session focused on the role of social innovation and entrepreneurship in addressing socio-economic challenges and poverty trends. The panelists were Mr. Sahba Sobhani, Director of UNDP Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development (IICPSD), and Mr. Ayman Sabae, Co-founder and CEO of the Egyptian Social Enterprise ‘Shamseya’ for Innovative Community Healthcare Solutions.

In between the two panel sessions, a launching was held for Massive Open Online Course on Islamic Finance for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IsDBI and IICPSD developed the MOOC through a partnership with Durham University Business School, with the support of the IsDB’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Fund.

The online course is the first of its kind specifically designed to engage development professionals and Islamic finance stakeholders under the single umbrella of sustainable development and leverage Islamic finance to finance the SDGs. It brings together 27 internationally recognized subject matter experts from 11 countries and 3 continents as course instructors.