Aga Khan Development Network

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The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a network of private, non-denominational (de jure) development agencies founded by the Aga Khan that work primarily in the poorest parts of Asia and Africa.[1] Aga Khan IV succeeded to the office of the 49th hereditary Imam as spiritual and administrative leader of the Shia faith-rooted Nizari Ismaili Muslim supranational union in 1957.[1][2] Ismailis consist of an estimated 25–30 million adherents (about 20% of the world's Shia Muslim population).[3][4][5][6]

The network focuses on health, education, culture, rural development, institution building and the promotion of economic development. The AKDN aims to improve living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. Its annual budget for not-for-profit activities is approximately US $ 950 million – mainly in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.[7] The AKDN works in 30 countries around the world, and it employs over 80,000 paid staff, mostly in developing countries.[8] While the agencies are secular, they are guided by Islamic ethics, which bridge faith and society.[1]

AKDN agencies[edit]

AKDN agencies work towards the elimination of global poverty; the promotion and implementation of pluralism;[9] the advancement of the status of women; and the honouring of Islamic art and architecture.[7][10][11][12][13]

The following is a list of AKDN agencies:

AKA Aga Khan Academies
AKAH Aga Khan Agency for Habitat[14]
AKAM Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance
AKES Aga Khan Education Services
AKF Aga Khan Foundation
AKFED Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development
AKHS Aga Khan Health Services
AKTC Aga Khan Trust for Culture
AKU Aga Khan University
UCA University of Central Asia

Collectively they are leading development organisations around the world, focusing on the improving the livelihoods of Ismailis.[2] The Aga Khan's secular development institutions – such as AKDN and AKRSP – provide services and direction for sustainable development around the world.[15]

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development with its affiliates, Tourism Promotion Services, Industrial Promotion Services, and the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, 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 agencies' 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. To pursue their mandates, AKDN institutions rely on volunteers as well as remunerated professionals.

AKDN focuses on civil society with the Civil Society Programme. A number of organizations are sponsored by the World Bank with the help of partner foundations.[16]

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, and also support to cultural development and preservation with the Award for Architecture, Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), Historic Cities, Museums & Exhibitions, Islamic Architecture, Music.

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM), Financial Services, Industrial Promotion, Tourism Promotion, Media, Aviation Services are some of the agencies and programs offered for economic development.

In the field of education AKDN has the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES), Aga Khan University (AKU), Aga Khan Academies (AKA) and the University of Central Asia (UCA).

Rural development[edit]

In Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, the Aga Khan Foundation plays a central role in helping the entire village or collection of villages improve their standards of living.[15]

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is striving to help mitigate educational and food scarcity in several disadvantaged East African communities. The AKF has partnered with organizations in rural regions of Kenya and Tanzania to augment their economic capacity. Programs in Kenya have built over 120 dams and small farm reservoirs to help increase water accessibility, along with water pipes for schools and hospitals. Programs in Tanzania have focused on helping to train farmers on sustainable agricultural practices in their harsh and unpredictable climate. Through these programs the AKF hopes to increase agricultural yields and incomes for the neglected rural regions within both countries. .[17]

Long-term commitment[edit]

The AKDN agencies 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.

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[edit]

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.

Highlighting the functions and philosophy of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN),[1]

"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."

— Aga Khan Keynote address at the Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference, 9 May 2004


The AKDN partners with like-minded institutions in the design, implementation and funding of innovative development projects.[18] Partners included governments of many nations: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, in Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Japan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Mali, Mozambique, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, United Kingdom and many governmental agencies in the United States.[18]

The AKDN is one of the first Global Alliance Founding Partners, who will be providing funding for the Earthshot Prize, launched in October 2020 by Prince William in partnership with Sir David Attenborough through The Royal Foundation.[19] Between 2021 and 2030, five prizes of £1 million will be awarded annually to recipients who identify solutions to global environmental problems.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Keynote address at the Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference, 9 May 2004, retrieved 24 January 2016
  2. ^ a b Steinberg, Jonah (2011). Isma′ili Modern: Globalization and Identity in a Muslim Community. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9788121512541.
  3. ^ Zachary, G. Pascal (9 July 2007). "The Aga Khan, a jet-setter who mixes business and Islam". NY Times. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Mapping the Global Muslim Population". The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Pew Research Center. 7 October 2009. Archived from the original on 2012-04-27. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  5. ^ "The 500 Most Influential Muslims – 2011". Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. Archived from the original on 2012-04-09. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  6. ^ "His Highness the Aga Khan". Archived from the original on 6 November 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Aga Khan joins Prime Minister's neighbourhood",, 8 December 2008
  8. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Aga Khan Development Network. 2014. Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Spiegel Interview with Aga Khan". Spiegel. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Aga Khan holds up Canada as model for the world". Vancouver Sun. 23 November 2008. Archived from the original on 2016-02-14. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  11. ^ Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, archived from the original on 2016-02-01, retrieved 2016-01-25
  12. ^ Husain, Ishrat (15 December 2003). "Lessons for poverty reduction" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Aga Khan Development Network". 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Aga Khan Agency for Habitat | Aga Khan Development Network". Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  15. ^ a b Hong, Caylee (2013). "Law and Liminality in Gilgit-Baltistan: Managing Natural Resources in Constitutional Limbo" (PDF). Canadian Journal of Poverty Law. 2 (1): 103. doi:10.1080/09584935.2015.1040733. S2CID 146469941.
  16. ^ "International Foundations with Offices in Client Countries" (PDF). Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  17. ^ Alphonce Shiundu (16 November 2017). "Reaching out to disadvantaged communities". D+C, development and cooperation. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Partners". Aga Khan Development Network. 2014. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  19. ^ Reporter, A. (2020-10-09). "AKDN, Prince William to launch environmental prize". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2021-02-24.

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