SAARC fund to launch social development programmes

Bhutan-based SAARC Development Fund (SDF), a unit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), is about to launch a social enterprise development programme (SEDP) that will provide annual support to around 80 entities in eight SAARC member states, including India

June 17, 2018

SAARC is made up of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; SDF, the developmental financing unit of the block, focuses on three verticals - Social, Economic and Infrastructure

Established in 2010, SDF aims to - 1) Promote the welfare of the people of SAARC region; 2) Improve their quality of life; and 3) Accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the region

Till date, the Fund has committed US$73.7 million for social window projects, out of which the body has disbursed US$47 million to the member state; Currently, SDF is working on 12 projects under the social window

The announcement comes after India attended the 12th informal meeting of SAARC finance ministers last month. The event was held on the sidelines of the 51st annual summit of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The SAARC Development Fund (SDF), a unit of the the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) block, is planning to launch a social enterprise development programme (SEDP) to aid regional developmental projects. Bhutan-based SDF will provide annual support to around 80 entities in eight SAARC member states, including India. The plan was announced by SDF chief executive, Sunil Motiwal, said in an interview to the Press Trust of India (PTI). Besides India, SAARC is made up of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Established in 2010, SDF aims to – 1) Promote the welfare of the people of SAARC region; 2) Improve their quality of life; and 3) Accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the region. To facilitate these agendas, SDF has three windows – Social, Economic and Infrastructure.

The SEDP will be launched as part of the social window of SDF, which is governed by a council made up of finance ministers of the SAARC member countries. Mr Motiwal said that the programme will be implemented in the SAARC countries with the objective of identifying and building social enterprises by using a mix of grants and concessional returnable capital. Till date, the Fund has committed US$73.7 million for social window projects, out of which the body has disbursed US$47 million to the member states. Mr Motiwal added that the Fund had recently approved two energy infrastructure projects in the region with a loan commitment of US$30 million under the infrastructure window. The energy projects include a waste-to-energy project in Sri Lanka with the participation of India and a hydro electricity project in Nepal with participation of Bangladesh and India.

The entity is also considering co-financing regional connectivity projects in the SAARC region. Currently, SDF is working on 12 projects under the social window in the SAARC region. SDF also aims to fund Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the SAARC region. The agency aims to work on projects that will ease access to financial services in the region which will help entrepreneurial activities. This will help boost job creations, raise income and investment in new projects. The latest announcement comes after India attended the 12th informal meeting of SAARC finance ministers in Philippines on May 4th. The event was held on the sidelines of the 51st annual summit of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a regional development bank based out of Manila. During the event, India had requested ADB to expand operations in India by providing annual funding of US$4 billion.