Aga Khan Development Network
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The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies that seek to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. Founded and guided by Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, the Network focuses on health, education, culture, rural development, institution-building and the promotion of economic development. The AKDN is dedicated to improving living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. Its annual budget for not-for-profit endeavours exceeds US$500 million. The AKDN works in 30 countries around the world, and it employs over 80 thousand paid staff, mostly in developing countries.
The AKDN's annual budget for non-profit activities in 2010 was US$ 625 million. All AKDN agencies are non-profit except AKFED, which seeks to generate profits as part of its formula for sustainability, but reinvests any profits in further development activities.
The Aga Khan Foundation, including the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, the Aga Khan University, Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Education Services, and the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, operate in social development.
The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development with its affiliates, the Tourism Promotion Services, Industrial Promotion Services, and Financial Services, seek to strengthen the role of the private sector in developing countries by supporting private sector initiatives in the development process. The Fund and the Foundation also encourage government policies that foster what the Aga Khan first called an "enabling environment" of favourable legislative and fiscal structures.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture co-ordinates the Imamat's cultural activities. Its programmes include The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, and the Education and Culture Programme. The Trust also provides financial support for the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
While each agency pursues its own mandate, all of them work together within the overarching framework of the Aga Khan Development Network so that their different pursuits can interact and reinforce one another. Their common goal is to help the poor achieve a level of self-reliance whereby they are able to plan their own livelihoods and help those even more needy than themselves. A central feature of the AKDN's approach to development is to design and implement strategies in which its different agencies participate in particular settings. To pursue their mandates, AKDN institutions rely on the energy, dedication, and skill of volunteers as well as remunerated professionals, and draw upon the talents of people of all faiths.
AKDN consists of the following organisations:
- Aga Khan Academies (AKA)
- Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM)
- Aga Khan Education Services (AKES)
- Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)
- Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED)
- Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS)
- Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS)
- Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)
- Aga Khan University (AKU)
- Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS)
- University of Central Asia (UCA)
Development models require time to demonstrate their effectiveness and to enable local communities to take on full responsibility for their own future development. The AKDN agencies, therefore, make a long-term commitment to the areas in which they work, guided by the philosophy that a humane, sustainable environment must reflect the choices made by people themselves of how they live and wish to improve their prospects in harmony with their environment. Sustainability is, thus, a central consideration from the outset.
The experience of the past three decades of development effort shows that even when government, non-government, commercial organisations, and international development agencies work together, they are not able to meet most, let alone all, of the needs for shelter, health, and sustenance of the world's populations. AKDN institutions work in close partnership with the world's major national and international aid and development agencies. The AKDN itself is an independent self-governing system of agencies, institutions, and programmes under the leadership of the Ismaili Imamat. One of their sources of support are the Ismaili community with its tradition of philanthropy, voluntary service and self-reliance, and the leadership and material underwriting of the hereditary Imam and Imamat resources.
Philosophy of AKDN
The Aga Khan Development Network is working to improve the quality of life of the people. Exemplifying the same is the network of institutions active in more than 35 underdeveloped countries to provide support in the fields of health care, education and economics, and has become the symbol of hope for the under-privileged people.
"The engagement of the Imamat in development is guided by Islamic ethics, which bridge faith and society. It is on this premise that I established the Aga Khan Development Network. This Network of agencies, known as the AKDN, has long been active in many areas of Asia and Africa to improve the quality of life of all who live there. These areas are home to some of the poorest and most diverse populations in the world."
- Frequently Asked Questions, Official Website (2008 figure, accessed 12 Dec 2010)