Aga Khan Foundation

Aga Khan Foundation
Founded 1967
Founder Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV
Type Non-governmental organization
Focus International development, Sustainable development
  • International
Area served
South and Central Asia, Eastern and Western Africa, and the Middle East

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is a private, not-for-profit international development agency,[1] which was founded in 1967 [2] by Prince Shah Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV.[3] AKF seeks to provide long-term solutions to problems of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and ill health in the poorest parts of South and Central Asia, Eastern and Western Africa, and the Middle East. In these regions, the needs of rural communities in mountainous, coastal and other resource-poor areas are given particular attention. The Foundation's activities often reinforce the work of other sister agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). While these agencies are guided by different mandates pertaining to their respective fields of expertise (the environment, culture, microfinance, health, education, architecture, rural development), their activities are often coordinated with one another in order to "multiply" the overall effect that the Network has in any given place or community. AKF also collaborates with local, national and international partners in order to bring about sustainable improvements of life in the 19 countries in which it works. The Foundation's head office is located in Geneva, Switzerland.[4]

Areas of focus

The Foundation concentrates its resources on selected issues in health, education, rural development, environment and the strengthening of civil society. Seeking innovative approaches to generic problems, it tries to identify solutions that can be adapted to conditions in many different regions and replicated.[5]

Cross-cutting issues that are also addressed by the Foundation include human resource development, community participation, and gender and development.

Funding and grant making

The Aga Khan Foundation is the principal grant-making agency for social development within the Aga Khan Development Network. Grants are normally given to local organizations interested in testing new solutions, in learning from experience and in being agents of lasting change. These organizations must share the Foundation's and Aga Khan Development Network's goals in their specific areas of focus. If no established group exists, the Foundation occasionally creates new organizations to tackle particularly important problems.

The Aga Khan provides the Foundation with regular funding for administration as well as making contributions to its endowment. The Ismaili community contributes volunteers, time, professional services and substantial financial resources. Other funding sources include income from investments and grants from government, institutional and private sector partners, as well as donations from individuals around the world.

One programme series funded by the Foundation was the BBC World News television series Architects on the Frontline, which was about entries to the Aga Khan Award for Architecture competition, and was criticized by the media watchdog Ofcom for breaking United Kingdom broadcasting rules; viewers were not informed that the series, which praised the competition, was sponsored content.[6]

Awards and recognition

Among other recognition for its work, the Foundation received the 2005 Award for Most Innovative Development Project from the Global Development Network for the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP). The AKRSP has successfully been replicated to form the Rural Support Programmes Network in Pakistan.[7][8]

Geographic focus

The Foundation normally intervenes where it has a strong volunteer base. It is currently active in the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, Portugal, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, and United States.


  1. Anderson, S. E. (2002-01-01). Improving Schools Through Teacher Development: Case Studies of the Aga Khan Foundation Projects in East Africa. CRC Press. ISBN 9789026519369.
  2. Anheier, Helmut K.; Toepler, Stefan (2009-11-24). International Encyclopedia of Civil Society. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9780387939964.
  3. Cherry, Stephen M.; Ebaugh, Helen Rose (2016-04-22). Global Religious Movements Across Borders: Sacred Service. Routledge. ISBN 9781317127338.
  4. Ebrahim, Alnoor (2005-05-12). NGOs and Organizational Change: Discourse, Reporting, and Learning. Cambridge University Press. p. 147. ISBN 9780521671576.
  5. Teaching Korea: Modernization, Model Minorities, and American Internationalism in the Cold War Era. ProQuest. 2008-01-01. p. 172. ISBN 9781109098709.
  6. "News channels breached sponsorship rules, Ofcom says". BBC News. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  7. Global Development Network: Global Development Awards at
  8. Narayan-Parker, Deepa; Glinskaya, Elena E. (2007-01-01). Ending Poverty in South Asia: Ideas that Work. World Bank Publications. ISBN 9780821368770.


External links

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