Al Rayan Bank has appointed Islamic Relief, one of largest faith-based NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) in the world, as its exclusive charity partner for 2017.

The partnership was announced at Islamic Relief’s headquarters in Waterloo, London on Tuesday 14 February and is focused on the charity’s Sustainable Livelihoods programme.

Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief, said: “We are delighted that Al Rayan Bank has chosen Islamic Relief to be its exclusive charity partner for 2017. As one of the world’s largest faith-based NGOs, we are the ideal partner for the largest Sharia-compliant retail Bank in the UK.

“Islamic Relief is well known for our disaster and emergency relief work around the world. But perhaps less well known is our Sustainable Livelihoods programme, which helps people by supporting them to start their own businesses as a means of alleviating poverty with dignity. Our partnership with Al Rayan Bank will help us to enable communities to become self-sufficient and independent.”

Microfinance, where entrepreneurs in developing countries are given access to financial services that would otherwise be unavailable to them, is recognised as a key strategy to help those living in poverty to become financially independent. Islamic microfinance is designed to cater for poor people in predominantly Muslim countries.

One microfinance project Al Rayan Bank will be supporting through fundraising activities is in the Republic of Mali, West Africa. The project has empowered local women, providing them with an opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Money is made available using the Islamic finance principle of Qard Hasan (loan without benefit). The women are then able to use this money to commercially harvest the nut of the African Shea tree and create Shea Butter, which can then be used in various products.

Photo (from left): Dr Mohammed Kroessin, Head of Islamic Microfinance at Islamic Relief Worldwide, Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief, Hasina Momtaz, Head of Communications at Islamic Relief UK, Sultan Choudhury, CEO of Al Rayan Bank, and Seema Khan, Head of Major Gifts at Islamic Relief UK.

Commenting on the Mali Shea Butter microfinance project, Sultan Choudhury, CEO of Al Rayan Bank, said: “Islamic banking is a socially responsible form of banking, which is concerned with the effect of its activities on society as a whole.

“As the UK’s largest Islamic retail Bank, we understand the power of inclusive ba