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Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

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Building Resilience through a Client-Centric Model

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Explore the Disaster Risk Reduction Initiative

This webinar explored innovative client-centric model approaches used by The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance’s (AKAM), with First Microfinance Institution Syria (FMFI-S) and The First MicroFinance Bank-Afghanistan (FMFB-A), to build resilience against natural and civil disasters in a region that faces persistent political and economic instability. The webinar showcased:
  • Need Based Response: Understanding on-the-ground realities and needs of clients and responding accordingly,
  • Business Continuity Plans: Establishing and operationalizing a robust business continuity plan (BCP) that positions FMFI-S and FMFB-A to respond and recover quickly from risks and crises,
  • Humanitarian Partnerships: Building and maintaining partnerships with specialized agencies that provide humanitarian and social support that complement FMFI-S and FMFB-A financial services, and
  • Employment Practices: Staffing the institution from the local community to ensure the institutional culture is appropriate to the context and that staff feel supported to remain for the long term.
The key question addressed during the webinar was: What are people-centered strategies to promote financial inclusion in a DRR context?
This webinar was hosted by SEEP's Disaster Risk Reduction Program.


Frank Van der Poll, CEO, The First MicroFinance Bank-Afghanistan

Frank Van der PollFollowing a successful career in the Information Technology sector where Frank has been recognized for designing, landing and leading Business Strategic Developments, incubating new disruptive business models resulting in the deliverance of 3 market leading positions he moved on to the Business Banking Sector. Frank is recognized within the Banking Industry as an entrepreneurial business banker and a calculated risk taker. Maduro Curiels Bank became the largest Business banking business across the West Indies under his leadership. At Banque du Populair du Rwanda he developed and led the Micro Finance Initiative and returned an overall loss making business banking business into sustainable profits. At Standard Chartered Bank he ramped up the Southern Africa Business Cluster from the lowest ranking profits to the # 1 position. He founded BFC which became the leading Merger & Acquisition Firm in Southern Africa and was appointed as partner of Choice for M&A’s by BDO & Mazar. Following the successful sale of his business he returned to Banking Joining First Micro Finance Bank Afghanistan.

Fareed Ashraf Chaudhry, Head of Marketing, Research and Product Development, The First MicroFinance Bank-Afghanistan

Fareed Ashraf ChaudhryFareed Ashraf Chaudhry is a microfinance/consumer banking professional with over 15 years of experience in leading business initiatives and top-line growth at Pakistan’s leading banks including Standard Chartered Bank, UBL and Allied Bank. Prior to FMFB-Afghanistan, Fareed was leading the product development and marketing function at Pakistan’s largest microfinance bank. At Khushhalibank, Fareed spearheaded individual and MSME lending programs along with targeted savings and ADC /branchless banking propositions to create an integrated retail business with nearly a million customers and annual profits in excess of USD 1 million. Fareed has a degree in mechanical engineering and is an MBA from the National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan.

Adeeb Sharaf, Chief Executive Officer of the First Microfinance Institution Syria

Adeeb SharafAdeeb Sharaf is a professional microfinance and banker with over than 12 years of experience prior joining FMFI in 2010, Adeeb has played a significant role in internal control and auditing during his work in one of the leading banks in the UAE market. During his work with the First Microfinance Institution, Adeeb has been recognized for leading the institution successfully throughout the war time that has damaged the economy and infrastructure of the country. Though he was able to lead the institution to grow up in lending portfolio with excellent repayment rate (PAR 0%), gain the client trust with substantial growth in deposit and maintain the existence and sustainability of the institution. The First MicroFinance Institution has been recognized as leading institution in the region and in a conflict zone with ability to expand and improve its outreach and improve the financial inclusion within the country. Adeeb Sharaf was able to bring the institution to be in the finalist for the European Microfinance Award.

Sitara Merchant, Director, Research and Product Development, The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM)

Sitara MerchantSitara has over 25 year of global experience in both the private and social development sector; she founded her own private sector consulting company in Canada that worked with clients to develop their strategy and link it to their day to day performance to have a bottom line impact. She joined the Aga Khan Development Network twelve years ago to follow her desire to make a difference in developing economies. During the last seven years she has been developing financial products/solutions for the poor, small and medium enterprises. At AKAM she provides technical assistance 9 microfinance institutions on market insights and solutions with a view to transition these entities digital financial services that are client centric as well as implement a performance management (social and financial) to monitor and maximize the positive impact on the quality of life for the poor.

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