Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib, the founder of the largest micro-finance organisation in Pakistan has been honoured with the 31st Commonwealth Point of Light award by the British queen for benefitting thousands of underprivileged people through his initiative.
In the lead-up to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in London on April 19 and 20, Queen Elizabeth II has lauded inspirational volunteers across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they have been making in their communities and beyond.
“By sharing these stories of service, the heads of government meeting will celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the greatest social challenges of our time,” said an official statement issued on Wednesday.
Dr Saqib is the founder of ‘Akhuwat’, which provides interest-free loans to disadvantaged people so they can develop sustainable incomes.
Since its inception in 2001, Amjad has opened 700 branches in 350 cities across Pakistan, enabling over 600,000 people to become self-reliant. The charity has provided more than £345 million interest free loans while retaining a recovery rate of 99.96%, with all operational costs covered by donations.
The charity also supports education initiatives, including Akhuwat College, which opened in 2015 and provides a residential facility for students who cannot afford quality education, and Akhuwat University, which will open in November 2018 as Pakistan’s first free university, supporting over 600 students.
Dr Saqib was presented the award by UK High Commissioner in Pakistan Thomas Drew.
“Poverty is poison. Poverty is pain. We need to rise together and make a concerted effort to reduce poverty and make this world a happy place to live in,” said the Akhuwat founder on receiving the award.He thanked the Commonwealth and Points of Light for recognising his efforts for the noble cause.
The British high commissioner said, “I am delighted to present Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib with the Commonwealth Point of Light award for his exceptional voluntary service that has benefitted hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged people.”
Dr Saqib has been honoured as Pakistan’s ‘Point of Light’ for delivering a significant impact on the lives of others. “He has shown an innovative approach to a social challenge and has inspired others to make a positive change within and beyond their communities,” the statement read.
The heads of government meeting in London next month will bring together leaders from all the 53 member countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree how to work to create a better future for all citizens, especially young people.
“Voluntary service is a vital part of this agenda, which is why the Queen has chosen to recognise outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth in this special way,” the statement further added.