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Prince Rahim's speech at the Inauguration of the new head office of the Kyrgyz Investment and Credit Bank

Wednesday, 2011, March 23
Prince Rahim Aga Khan

Your Excellency President Otunbaeva
Honorable Speaker of Parliament
Distinguished guests

Today is truly a special day—and for several reasons.
First, it comes at a special time of the year.

The festival of Navroz is a time when we think about renewal and rejuvenation—when we welcome a new spring season in a spirit of hope and optimism.

And that spirit is very prevalent as we gather here today to mark the opening of a new head office for KICB—and as we celebrate the spirit of forward-looking progress in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Second, this is a special day because of the people with whom we are sharing it. It is a particular honor for me to be here with President Otunbaeva, who I understand has rearranged her busy schedule to be with us today.

Thank you Madame President.

I would also like to thank His Excellency Akhmatbek Keldibekov the speaker of Kyrgyzstan’s National Assembly for joining us here today.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

And third, this is a special day because of what this event symbolizes. We can reflect today on the decade long story of KICB’s growth and progress--and we can think ahead to a future of continued achievement and success.

We also recognize today some of the qualities which have produced these past accomplishments, and which I believe will be key to future successes.

One important ingredient has been a spirit of broad based cooperation: From the very start, international cooperation has been a KICB watchword, as the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and the National Bank were joined in FOUNDING this company by development and financial institutions from many parts of the world. Those of us who are associated with the

Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development were deeply pleased to be a part of this collaborative endeavor.

This spirit of cooperation has characterized not only the shareholders of KICB, but also its management and its highly professional staff. As we recognize them, we admire the way the Bank has evolved as one team—bringing together people of diverse backgrounds. Today, in both its internal operations and its external actions, KICB represents the spirit of pluralism, and the conviction that diversity is a source of strength and vitality.

We salute today KICB’s resolve to serve the entire spectrum of the country’s population by offering a variety of financial products and solutions. The aim is to ensure economic empowerment ranging from the small and medium enterprises to large scale corporate organizations. The Bank’s policies recognize that the strength of any society—as a whole -- will ultimately depend on the progress of each of that society’s parts.

The Bank's approach also reflects another principle of our Network, the need for multiple development inputs. What this means is that forward steps in one area—such as education or health —will work best when they are combined –and coordinated-- with other initiatives—for example in transportation, or energy supply, or agricultural production. Business investments must go hand in hand with social investments.

The Aga Khan Development Network is deeply committed to these principles. We seek to work closely with a broad range of partners—including government, civil society, international development agencies and others – in the widest possible range of sectors and areas, from micro lending to retail banking, from primary schools to universities. Two examples here in

Kyrgyzstan would be the Aga Khan School in Osh and the University of Central Asia in Naryn.

As we look to the promise of tomorrow—for this Bank , for this country, and for this region of the world—we realize that long journeys start with small but solid steps, and that each success we achieve will contribute to future progress. I am here today to pledge the continuing support of the Aga Khan Development Network to the future growth of KICB, including its expansion into every part of this country—and, beyond that, to other countries of Central Asia.

I was happy to hear that the shareholders of KICB have in principle approved a further capital increase for the bank, despite the difficulties which the world economy has recently faced. This decision is a reflection of the shareholder’s commitment not only for the future growth of the bank, but more importantly for the future development of the country.

It is also very encouraging to note the Government’s support, under the President’s leadership--in providing a healthy enabling environment for foreign direct investment. The measures taken thus far have done a great deal to build investor confidence.

I express my gratitude to the Government and the Central Bank for welcoming these initiatives and I am confident that through collaboration and common understanding, we will continue to make a difference as we pave the way for greater social and economic opportunity.

We understand how difficult these recent times have been for the people and the leaders of the Kyrgyz Republic. We admire the strength and the optimism with which so many of you have persisted in building for the future. We are inspired by your example—and we are united with you in working to strengthen the forces of progress.

My thanks again for your warm welcome on this very special and exciting day.

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