ABIDJAN — The Islamic Development Bank revealed a rebrand last week, with insiders saying it represents an internal evolution to better empower its country members and beneficiaries through an emphasis on innovation and partnership.
In April, the Islamic Development Bank held its annual meeting in Tunisia, and among the issues discussed were social innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth. Hayat Sindi leads the bank's efforts on some of this work and Devex spoke to her about a new fund and platform aimed at connecting and supporting innovators and entrepreneurs.
The first rebrand in its 44-year history, the bank’s “new brand identity,” including a new logo, reflects a wider transformation that Hayat Sindi, scientific adviser to the president, told Devex includes an internal restructuring, decentralization, and establishment of regional hubs within member countries. The Saudi-based multilateral development bank remains a leading lender in the Muslim world, with 57 member countries covering a population of 1.6 billion, and a working capital of $16 billion.
“After conducting internal and external interviews, we realized we need to transform, to be seen as more than a bank of businessmen, but a bank of developers,” Sindi said. “We want to empower communities, not just be seen as an ATM machine.”
To better address the difficulties facing lower-income countries today, IsDB has created specialized departments for climate change, partnerships, and resilience, to streamline external commitments and guide member countries before, during and after a natural disaster for example.
“Our mission will focus on youth and the Fourth Industrial Revolution ... and will drive innovation and partnerships which are so critical to the delivery and financial planning that impact the entire value chain,” Sindi explained.
Technology, partnership, and innovation sit at the heart of IsDB’s strategy to alleviate poverty and provide equitable health care and education through Islamic financing. However, Sindi noted that making technology accessible to the most vulnerable will require a shift in thinking at the local level.
“We want to empower communities, not just be seen as an ATM machine.”— Hayat Sindi, IsDB’s scientific adviser to the president
She argued that IsDB funding will “encourage the culture of technology that even though you may not have invented [something], you have the right to [the] technology, and with that comes a bit of development work to help them understand that they have this right,” she told Devex.
To this end, IsDB launched the “Transform Fund” to increase member access to financing for innovation. This $1 billion fund will provide seed money for innovators, startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises; and finance partnerships between researchers and entrepreneurs for projects that address challenges aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, such as food security, education, water and sanitation, renewable energy, and infrastructure.
IsDB also launched the digital platform Engage in February, which connects agencies, NGOs, and the private sector with market opportunities and funding, in hopes of serving as an incubation space for idea sharing among innovators.
Along with internal shuffling, the new logo — a blue and green half globe comprised of interconnected dots — “really reflects the modern age; reflects our forward vision in terms of organizational partnership, science and innovation, [and] global engagement being at the heart of our work,” Sindi said.
The green is part of the Islamic bank’s traditional identity, while the blue represents sustainability — a color used by other international organizations. The interconnectivity of dots represents liberation, partnership, a meeting of the minds, and innovation, according to Sindi, while the half globe symbolizes an openness for new partnership opportunities.
“The challenges are huge, and to be sustainable in supporting [them] we needed to have a different approach in how we go into poor communities. So, here we are entering a new era as an institution,” she said.