Could you provide a brief journey of how you arrived where you are today?
I have always been engaged in international development finance and co-operation. My job with the World Bank in the mid-1970s and my later consultancy assignments in the Maldives and Saudi Arabia, and as an official of the Egyptian government in charge of economic and technical co-operation, all prepared me for my present assignment. Providing finance to the private sector is a very specialized and risky business. Accordingly, professional knowledge of banking and financial issues is an essential element of my job. In this respect, my work in development banking in Washington DC, in Egypt and on the boards of numerous companies came in handy in all these spheres. .
What does your role involve?
As the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) was a totally new organization, I put a lot of effort into building internal capacity, developing a team culture and a brand name. Since we operate in a competitive market, especially in the Middle East, I endeavour to maintain and implement the corporate objectives relating to private sector development as established by the board of directors; scan the environment for opportunities in the Islamic finance industry; as well as creating solutions to the many challenges facing the corporation. I perceive my role as CEO as a setter of the standards of conduct required to maintain a competitive advantage in the industry.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
I believe that my greatest contribution has been to create a harmonious, effective and dynamic team capable of dealing with the private sector. To start a new organization is like pushing a stationary car: it takes a lot of effort. Once it begins to move it is easy to accelerate. What made our job more difficult was the fact that we target a wide region extending from Indonesia in the east to Senegal in the west; and also from Mozambique in the south all the way to Kazakhstan. Such a wide region is very diverse in culture, business practices and legal frameworks. Thus it was necessary to attract a multinational workforce that was capable of navigating the markets of so many countries.
Which of your products/services deliver the best results?
ICD provides a wide variety of financial products and services, which enables us to offer a mix of financing that is tailored to meet the needs of each project. I believe that our best results have been in providing lines of financing to commercial banks and national development financing institutions, from which the capital needs of small and medium-sized enterprises are met. These lines are used quickly and meet real needs in the business community in our member countries.
What are the strengths of your business?
We rely on a solid base of experience and contacts built by our parent company the Islamic Development Bank. We also believe in our corporation’s ability to set its internal structure and investment guidelines, and to attract a highly qualified and harmonious team from different nationalities, full of enthusiasm and driven by a strong desire to serve the member countries.
What are the factors contributing to the success of your company?
Undoubtedly, the ICD’s success over the years would not have been possible without the continuous support of its shareholders and partners, the good leadership and patronage of its board of directors, and the efforts, intense interest, and devotion of its staff.
What are the obstacles faced in running your business today?
Expectations to finance private sector developmental projects in member countries are greater than the current capacity of ICD in terms of capital and financial resources. To face this challenge, we are working to reinforce our staff capacity, diversity, communication channels and financial resources through the payment of the member countries’ subscriptions in the corporation’s capital; increase the paid-up capital; introduce new partners; and mobilize additional resources from the financial markets.
Where do you see the Islamic finance industry, maybe in the next five years?
Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing methods of finance. The industry is likely to undergo major re-structuring and consolidation in the near future. There is a need for stronger and bigger multinational organizations.
Name one thing you would like to see change in the world of Islamic finance?
There is a need for a strong regulatory environment to govern the activities of Islamic finance. In this respect, the role of the Islamic Finance Services Board deserves all of our support and encouragement. In addition, I believe that Islamic finance methods and modalities need additional innovations and efforts to clarify the concepts and make them accessible to the common man.
The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) is an independent international multilateral financial institution created for the development of its member countries through investment in the private sector and the provision of financial services to private sector entities.
Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the new entity is a fully fledged international independent institution. Its authorized capital is US$1 billion and its paid-up capital is US$500 million. The structure of the subscribed capital is as follows: Islamic Development Bank (50%), member countries (30%), public financial institutions of member countries (20%).
The vision of ICD is to be a multilateral financial institution for the promotion and development of the private sector in IDB member countries, operating according to the Shariah principles.