On May 26, 2013 thousands of Vancouverites will line up at Lumbermen’s Arch in Stanley Park in support of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s World Partnership Walk. Destination Auto Group has been a proud sponsor of the Walk for ten years — and a gold sponsor the last two years. On this occasion, I am pleased to have the opportunity to share some thoughts on what the Walk means to us.
My name is Adil Ahamed, I work at the Destination Auto Group. Prior to joining the Company, I worked in international micro finance with the Aga Khan Development Network contributing to financial product development projects in South and Central Asia.
Living in Vancouver, we can be proud to call home one of the World’s cleanest, most livable and beautiful cities. When it comes to quality of life, it is difficult to find a better place: the civil society, established health, education and other institutions enable us to enjoy high-quality and enriching lives. In this environment, it is hard (if not impossible) for one to imagine what life would be like in the absence of such institutions.
But just take a moment to think — what if you had to walk an hour each morning to get clean water? What if you couldn’t just flick a switch to turn on a light? What if there was a food shortage in the local market? Or if your child had to walk through a snowstorm to the next town to attend school? And when (s)he got there, there was no chair to sit on?
For decades, AKFC has funded locally identified projects that contribute to improving quality of life in many developing countries. These projects are carefully researched and meticulously executed by the local community, and have permanently enhanced the lives of millions around the world:
- Healthcare initiatives that bring cutting-edge technology and best practices to rural and underserved areas
- Institutions that provide education, especially to girls and women, from the stage of early childhood right through to university and tertiary levels
- Bridges that have opened up markets, stimulated cross-border trade and reunited families
- Power facilities that tap into local natural resources, bringing 24/7 energy to areas that were once off the grid
- Financial institutions that provide access to credit, stimulating job creation, flows of goods, and opportunities to earn sustainable economic livelihoods
- The list goes on…
The impact is real. It’s tangible. In 2006 I participated as a Fellow in the 8-month International Microfinance and Microenterprise program of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada. Funded in part by AKFC and CIDA, I worked with the First MicroFinanceBank in Tajikistan to help develop financial products to increase financial access and promote savings and enterprise development. During my tenure with the Bank and the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, grant funding we received from AKFC enabled us to pilot, among others, a health micro insurance project aimed at reducing child mortality and morbidity, a gender strategy for promoting and supporting female entrepreneurship, and housing and refurbishment loan programs in countries of Africa, South and Central Asia.
In the years since these and many other initiatives have been implemented, surveys that measure quality of life in countries where AKF operates are already showing positive signs. Empowered with lessons learned, motivated by long-term sustainability, and supported by the means to scale up, AKF projects continue to enhance quality of life across borders, regions and even continents.
Having returned to Vancouver with a greater appreciation for, and perspective on what it takes to combat poverty, I can say that Destination Auto Group continues to sponsor the World Partnership Walk because we believe, literally, that it’s a step in the right direction. So whether you decide to Walk, donate, fund raise, tell a friend, or be a spectator, we look forward to you joining us on the 26th, as we take steps together to end global poverty.
Adil Ahamed manages Marketing and Business Development at the Destination Auto Group. His prior experience has included micro finance at the Aga Khan Development Network and investment banking at Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs in New York. Adil obtained his MBA from Columbia Business School in 2012, and completed his BA in Economics from Cornell University in 2004.