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Development and humanitarian organisations engage Islamic finance leaders on adopting the principles of strategic philanthropy

By RFI Foundation | 08-May-2019

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 8 May 2019 –The Responsible Finance & Investment (RFI) Foundation held a roundtable last week focused on how Islamic financial institutions can apply principles of strategic philanthropy during the RFI Summit 2019.  The roundtable opened with a keynote address by H.R.H. Princess Sarah Zeid who highlighted the critical importance of impact and innovation.

Addressing the roundtable, Princess Sarah said: “It is my great privilege to work and travel with UNHCR and the World Food Programme.  If Islamic financial institutions show commitment and leadership through greater engagement with these organisations and others in the humanitarian sector, we can be the tipping point, shaping a financial, investment and business footprint reaching the most vulnerable.”

The roundtable was organised in partnership with Dubai Islamic Bank and the RFI Summit’s strategic philanthropic partner UNHCR, and hosted by INSEAD at its Middle East Campus in Abu Dhabi.  The roundtable brought together leading humanitarian, development and Islamic finance organisations who agreed that they could create a consortium to develop and improve the process to link their decisions about specific philanthropic giving to their strategic objectives . 

The recommendations from the roundtable, which were presented during the RFI Summit 2019 at Abu Dhabi Global Market, focus on improving the allocation, distribution and ultimate impact created by philanthropic giving by Islamic financial institutions. Participants agreed that innovations around impact investment provided new avenues for traditional forms of Islamic social finance such as zakat, waqf and sadaqa. 

New sources of capital unlocked by a collaborative approach can be used to enhance the impact of existing Islamic social finance include donor philanthropy, impact investment and other forms of private capital.  Participants shared tangible examples showing how these new sources of capital can address both the immediate needs of recipients as well as underlying root causes that will create greater need for humanitarian assistance. 

A full list of recommendations from the “Islamic Finance & Strategic Philanthropy” session was presented during the RFI Summit 2019 for discussion during the ‘unconference’ session.  The RFI Summit’s outcomes come in line with the theme “A New SRI: Can Sustainable, Responsible & Islamic Finance Deliver More Impact Together?” and will help to guide the RFI Foundation’s activities for the coming year.

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