A HELPING HAND

Jordan 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

The King Hussein Foundation is Jordan's most prominent philanthropic organization, seeking a level playing field for all Jordanians.

HM Queen Noor Chairperson
BIOGRAPHY
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh founded Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Global in 1972 as a leading global provider of professional and educational services with more than 100 offices worldwide. With lifetime achievements and outstanding contributions to a number of fields, Abu-Ghazaleh is recognized as one of the most influential leaders in the world. He is currently serving his second term as Senator in the Jordanian Upper House. Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh has chaired 14 UN taskforces and initiatives including the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development, in addition to serving on the WTO Panel of Experts on the Future of World Trade and as Vice Chairman of the UN Global Compact.

How has the King Hussein Foundation's innovative and evolving approach to socio-economic development translated into successes for the country?

The King Hussein Foundation was created to give an enduring life to King Hussein's humanitarian vision and legacy. We do that by focusing on equitable access to socioeconomic opportunity including health, education, microfinance, and cross-cultural programming, with an emphasis on women, youth, and marginalized groups in particular. The King Hussein Foundation was built, in part, on the sustainable development initiatives of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation going back nearly 40 years, and today includes eight institutions: the Jordan Micro Credit Company (Tamweelcom), Ethmar for Islamic Microfinance, the Institute for Family Health, the Community Development Program, the Jubilee Institute, the Information and Research Center, the National Center for Culture and Performing Arts, and the National Music Conservatory. All of these entities are characterized by a multidisciplinary approach to address challenges with an inclusive development methodology.

Can you elaborate more on the King Hussein Foundation's two microfinance companies, Tamweelcom and Ethmar?

The seeds of the microfinance companies began with the revolving funds in the community projects we started in the early 1980s. Most of those original funds are still active and providing support to their communities. We now have a total of 150 revolving loan funds around the country. Tamweelcom, established in 1999, is one of the foundation's significant success stories. It is a leading not-for-profit microfinance company in Jordan and the region, serving more than 90,000 clients, integrating low income and productive communities into the mainstream economy, and closing the unemployment gap. Tamweelcom's mission has also evolved with the growing needs of local communities ranging from responsible finance to broad-based projects including green energy, home improvement, technology innovation and others. Our sensitivity to the evolving needs of the market has also prompted Tamweelcom to introduce digital financial services to entrepreneurs in order to provide responsive and responsible credit at all times, wherever they may be located. Ethmar, which is three years old, addressed the gap for services for people hesitant to take advantage of any kind of loan structure that is not sharia compliant. Ethmar has built an efficient micro finance model through diverse network of vendors and the utilization of technology and was awarded the 2018 Global Islamic Micro Forum Award for developing a financial tracking system for Islamic compliant loans. Again, both companies have also introduced holistic approaches to the field with an array of non-financial services and support to clients, including educational support, mobile banking services, and health insurance.

What initiatives are you putting into place today to ensure that people are ready for the way the economy is developing?

The King Hussein Foundation's programs are focused on levelling the playing field for our youth socially, educationally and economically. 50% of Tamweelcom's clients are under the age of 35. Our Community Development Program, for example, is integrating efforts with our two microfinance companies, to provide business training and incubation, reaching into different regions. In expanding our work in the south, we have a program focused on women in micro- and small enterprises. This program is designed to address women and girls' social, educational and financial needs, including business incubation. In addition to our specialized economic development programs, the mission of the Jubilee Institute, our primary education thrust, which includes the Jubilee School, is to maximize access to state-of-art education, curriculum development and training opportunities for public and private school teachers and scholarship students from diverse backgrounds to enable them to thrive in our rapidly changing world. We are also trying to mainstream gender in every aspect including national advocacy efforts through our Information and Research Center, which was founded to assist practitioners and decision makers to develop evidence based and effective socio-economic policies. King Hussein's approach to leadership and his public service stemmed from his most deeply held personal values. He sought to translate his humility, faith in his fellow man, and deep and abiding humanism into systems of governance that promoted human dignity, equitable opportunity, and justice. Our mission will continue to be to give enduring life to those commitments.