“The [AKDN] network’s unique merger of commercial business and philanthropy has allowed it to reach more people by reinvesting profits into development work. [The Aga Khan] has a very fine mind for investing — and he does a bloody good job balancing the task of increasing his capital with that of advancing the needs of his followers. At the end of the day, he is looking for human profits.” — James Wolfensohn

At a special event to be held on November 1, 2017, at the United Nations, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, will receive the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asia Society when it recognises “dreamers and leaders” who are making a positive impact on the future of Asia. Each year for the past 4 years, the society has been honouring individuals, organizations, or movements “that have inspired, enlightened, and shown true leadership in areas that reflect Asia Society’s core pillars of policy and business, arts and culture, and education.” The other 8 awardees for 2017 include a young woman using rap music to fight a trauma in Afghanistan, a trailblazing CEO changing urban life in China, a Hollywood star building bridges between India and the world, and an environmentalist placing his life on the line to stop deforestation in his native country.

In honouring the Aga Khan for the special award of  Lifetime Achievement, the Asia Society notes as follows on its website:

“His Highness the Aga Khan, spiritual leader to the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims, believes one of his hereditary responsibilities is to improve the lives of the world’s most disadvantaged people. For more than half a century, he has done exactly that — on a breathtaking scale.

“More than a half century ago, he founded the Aga Khan Development Network and then the Aga Khan Foundation, creating a global web of agencies in 30 countries employing some 80,000 people to develop the poorest regions of Africa and South Asia while working to preserve and celebrate Islamic culture.

“The network’s unique merger of commercial business and philanthropy has allowed it to reach more people by reinvesting profits into development work. “[The Aga Khan] has a very fine mind for investing — and he does a bloody good job balancing the task of increasing his capital with that of advancing the needs of his followers,” said former World Bank president James Wolfensohn. “At the end of the day, he is looking for human profits.

“For five decades, the foundation has focused on those “human profits” — via work in rural development, health, education, civil society, and environmental initiatives to assist vulnerable populations, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. It has done everything from helping Pakistani communities recover from devastating floods to spearheading initiatives to improve education for Afghan girls, and from promoting civil society to battling hunger. The goal has never changed: to spark progress and development in poorer regions while presenting a less threatening face of Islam to the world.

“There are those … who enter the world in such poverty that they are deprived of both the means and the motivation to improve their lot,” the Aga Khan has said. “Unless these unfortunates can be touched with the spark which ignites the spirit of individual enterprise and determination, they will only sink back into renewed apathy, degradation and despair. It is for us, who are more fortunate, to provide that spark.”

The Asia Society invites individuals to apply for tickets to the event, noting that the availability is extremely limited and tables are selling fast. Various contribution levels to attend the event are available at the society’s website. Please click Asia Game Changer Awards and Dinner RSVP.

Date posted: August 12, 2017.

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