IFN Islamic Finance News: Forging forward: The ICD in 2019

Development institutions are an invaluable part of the fi nance industry landscape, and in the fi rst week of April the 44th Annual Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB) took place, introducing the bank’s pioneering new fi ve-year plan. This week, LAUREN MCAUGHTRY is delighted to bring to you an exclusive audience with Ayman Sejiny, the ambitious new CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), who gives us a unique insight into how this strategy will impact and infl uence the ICD’s integral work going forward.

ICD outlook Organized under the theme ‘Transformation in A Changing World: The Road to Sustainable Development Goals’, the two-day annual meeting focused on four key pillars of the IDB’s fi ve-year plan: including public–private partnerships; science, technology and innovation; the global value chain; and Islamic finance.
The ICD, as the private sector arm of the IDB, has a vital role to play in this future — and with a new leader at its helm, 2019 looks set to be both a busy and promising year for
the institution.

Ayman Sejini took on the role of CEO in September 2018, bringing with him a wealth of commercial banking experience including stints as CEO of Ibdar Bank, Bank Alkhair, Barclays Capital Saudi Arabia and as the chairman of Open-Silicon and Bahrain Financing Company Group as well as a board member of Unicorn Bahrain and senior roles with Samba and Saudi Hollandi Bank.

Since joining the ICD, Ayman has already made his presence felt, and the institution has taken on an impressively forward-facing focus with a special concentration on growing
areas including fi ntech, inclusiveness, sustainability and commercial progress. Sustainable innovation One of the biggest ongoing strategies of the ICD, and a key focus for Ayman, is of course the alignment of its activities with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — the focus of its meetings held at the beginning of this month.

A collection of 17 global goals set by the nited Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030, the SDGs were fi rst integrated into the ICD approach in 2017, and the corporation has pledged to concentrate its investments into a number of specifi c targets: including SDG 7 (energy), SDG 8 (jobs and fi nancial inclusion) and SDG 9 (industry and infrastructure). It has also committ ed to engage in SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 17 (partnerships) in order to impact on SDG 1 (poverty), SDG 2 (agriculture), SDG 3 (health), SDG 4 (education) and SDG 5 (gender equality).

“The ICD has always supported the concept of the SDGs — this strategy was just formalized by giving it more focus,” emphasized Ayman. “It matches closely with our mandate, and it gives us a targeted direction with which we can align ourselves.”
A successful SDG initiative from the ICD can be seen in the recent scaling-up of the Business Resilience Assistance for Value-adding Enterprises (BRAVE) program in Yemen. BRAVE aims to enhance the resilience of the SMEs in Yemen in vital sectors against the impacts of the ongoing conflict, in collaboration with development partners including the IDB and the Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Service (SMEPS, a subsidiary of the Social Fund for Development in Yemen) along with unique international donor partnerships. The second phase of the program was launched in December 2018 with US$9 million of grants from the Yemen Transition Fund and a further US$32.24 million of grants from the Women Entrepreneurs Financing Initiative.

"With fintech, we can better assess each economy, each marketplace, identify itscompetitive advantages and analyze exactly what services we can and should be offering to support its growth"

“The ICD will expand its support to this innovative and integrated approach by providing technical oversight and resource mobilization for SMEPS and our partner banks in Yemen,” said Ayman. “We are also working with our partners to adapt and adopt the BRAVE model to other comparable contexts where SMEs are in need of business resilience support to cope with diffi cult environments and tough market conditions. These interventions are also leveraging the established network partner banks of the ICD in our member countries.”
Financial focus This SME focus is a core part of the ICD remit, and one which Ayman plans to continue building over the coming years. The ICD views SMEs as the foundation of any economy...

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