Set up in 2010, SAARC Development Fund (SDF) aims to promote development in the eight member countries through funding projects in infrastructure and social sectors, said its CEO Dr Sunil Motiwal. The fund through its social sector window works to improve livelihood of people living in the region, he said in an interview.
Excerpts of the interview are follows:
CSRAffairs: What role the SDF is playing in the member countries?
Motiwal: The SAARC Development Fund serves as the umbrella financial institution for SAARC projects and programs which are in fulfilment of the objectives of the SAARC Charter. SDF promotes Regional Integration and Economic Cooperation in the region and has three funding windows viz. Social, Economic and Infrastructure.
SDF is currently implementing 12 regional projects with more than 70 implementing and lead implementing agencies covering all the eight Member States under the Social Window funding.
We have already committed USD 73.74 million for social window projects as of date out of which it has disbursed USD 47 million to the Member States for Social Window projects.
Recently we have in-principle approved two energy infrastructure projects in the region with a loan commitment of USD 30 million under our Infrastructure Window. Other potential regional connectivity projects are under our active consideration to co-finance in SAARC Member states.
CSRAffairs: Sir, please tell us something about the SDF’s social sector initiatives?
Motiwal: SDF is in the process of launching the Social Enterprise Development Program (SEDP) as part of its Social Window. The program will be implemented in all the SAARC Member States with the objective of identifying and building social enterprises by using a mix of grants and concessional returnable capital. The program intends to fund around 80 enterprises across the 8 SAARC Member States annually. We will also mobilise funds through Corporate Social Responsibility program.
CSRAffairs: How do you see the region going ahead from here?
Motiwal: The region, with large geographical diversity, from the high mountains to coastal regions, has its people as the biggest asset, with a large concentration between the age group of 15-24 years. It has huge pool of skilled manpower and low cost workforce with large pool of educated professionals and abundance of natural resources and is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. With enhanced cooperation and integration in the region, we can expect great result.
We would extend our tireless efforts to achieve our mandate of promoting the welfare of the people, improving their quality of life and accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the SAARC region.
SAARC Development Fund (SDF) – the institution was established by the Heads of the eight SAARC Member States in April 2010 and is governed by the Governing Council that comprises of Finance Ministers of SAARC Member States.
SAARC Members: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.