Akhuwat of Lahore: Breaking the rules
This paper describes the operations of Akhuwat, a microfinance institution which offers shariah-compliant micro-financial services to clients in Lahore and elsewhere in Pakistan. The institution has been in business for ten years. It charges no interest or any other fees for its loans, and has reached about one hundred thousand borrowers. It relies heavily on volunteer staff, and all its funding is from local and mainly unofficial voluntary donations, including substantial amounts from its clients, which cover over half its operating costs. Akhuwat generally lends to households, rather than to individual women, or men, and without any form of group intermediation. It is an important example of an efficient but non-commercial approach to microfinance, from which many other microfinance institutions may be able to learn.
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