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Ihsan Trust: Alleviating poverty through Interest-free educational loans

The economic survey held in 2016 states that 39% population of Pakistan live in multidimensional poverty, which implies that they are deprived of necessities of life. Although, poverty in Pakistan is not a new discovery. It is high time that the corporate, social, and government sector work collaboratively and collectively to alleviate poverty from Pakistan. Where corporate and government sector can financially support this concept, social sector plays a vital role in realizing it.

Poverty can be alleviated through many sources, however, in order to sustain poverty alleviation, Education is the key. Unfortunately, education has by far been the most neglected necessity in Pakistan. Where education can open the doors of opportunities for many, poverty is the main reason for them to not even approach that door. Utilizing time in seeking education and specially higher education is seen as an opportunity cost. It is a vicious cycle.

Ihsan Trust was established to break this vicious cycle through microfinancing. Ihsan Trust (IT) is a non-profit organization based in Karachi that introduced the idea of interest-free educational loan in 2010. Understanding the importance of higher education in alleviating poverty, this Riba free microfinancing is focused on providing more and more underprivileged students financial assistance while acquiring higher education. Affiliation with 130+ universities and professional bodies across Pakistan,

The model of Ihsan Trust is such that IT directly transfers the funds to the universities/institutions where its students are pursuing their higher education. In return, the students are asked to repay the loan via token monthly installments (on mutual agreement basis) even during the study period, providing its student an easy way to repay the entire loan and also complete their education.

The universities affiliated with IT are not only limited to big cities, rather the universities located in far reach areas are also affiliated with Ihsan Trust. IT aims to help the students in acquiring higher education so that they can change their financial condition. The mission of IT is to raise the standard of living of underprivileged, downtrodden and neglected sections of Pakistan and make their next generation strong enough to compete with the world.

Basically, Ihsan Trust provides financial assistance to the un-bankable population of Pakistan. The students with weak financial background are normally not assisted by banks and other sources. Ihsan Trust understands that to alleviate poverty, we must enable education by financially assisting on “need cum merit” basis.

The students of universities from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Balochistan, Southern Punjab, and interior Sindh, mostly belongs to low-income community of Pakistan, and enabling higher education for them can do wonders to their financial condition. Those students who studies in universities which are located in far reach areas and are not affiliated with Ihsan Trust, they are facilitated by Ihsan Trust through collaboration with “Diya Pakistan” – a non-profit organization which also works for Higher Education. Ihsan Trust has collaborated with Diya Pakistan to assist such students so that geographical limitation doesn’t come in the way of its philanthropic work.

 

Recently, IT has signed MOU with Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water, and Marine Sciences (LUAWMS) to facilitate the students in Balochistan so that they can contribute equally in the economy. The purpose of this collaboration is to enable higher education in the low-income community of Baluchistan, so that they can be stable enough to financial assist their next generations.

Similarly, Ihsan Trust funds the National Talent Hunt PROGRAM (NTHP) of IBA. The IBA Ihsan Trust NTHP program carefully selects the best students from low-income community and far reach areas of Pakistan and empower them to reach their limits by studying in the most prestigious UNIVERSITY of Pakistan , IBA.

So far, Ihsan Trust has been able to provide financial assistance to around 2,700+ students of universities and professional bodies. Many of those, who have completed their studies, are now securing good positions in large multinationals and local companies including Coca Cola company, Daraz, Unilever, Shell, PARCO, IBM, etc. They are now financially stable and contributing effectively and efficiently in the prosperity of Pakistan.

IT decided to provide interest-free loan rather than scholarships because interest-free loans are more sustainable than scholarships. To become a bridge for students for completing their higher education, all that needs to be done is to assist them while they are studying. After the completion of education, the individual is stable enough to return the amount invested on him/her leading Ihsan Trust to help more students in future. Unlike scholarships, interest-free loans have a roll over effect while inducing a sense of responsibility in students and a drive to achieve more. Hence, this way, the access to quality Higher Education is ensured for all.

Ihsan Trust along with financially stabilizing the low-income communities of Pakistan, is also basically enhancing the Human Capital index of Pakistan. The financial assistance of exceptionally brilliant students via interest-free educational loans helps the economy in Human Capital development as the supply of good and qualified human resource is increased leading to the prosperity of Pakistan and alleviation of poverty.

However, what have been achieved is just the tip of the ice-berg. Every year thousands of students proceed their case to Ihsan Trust, when only few hundreds get entertained. Like every business model, Ihsan Trust, in order to sustain, requires an external push every now and then to increase the number of students facilitated by them.

But that is not an obstacle in their way, it is just an opportunity for others to be a part of this great initiative. Be it corporations or individual donors, this initiative is a sustainable investment in higher education and poverty alleviation in Pakistan. The future plan is to provide this loan facility to around Ten Thousand students across the country within two to three years time, thus giving opportunities to the students on Merit taking need blind admission in their choice of universities and choice of program. May Allah helps us and guides us all to make our country a better place to live – Ameen!!!

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