The world’s best Islamic bank for ESG 2023: Kuwait Finance House
Kuwait Finance House’s (KFH) commitment to embed sustainability into all that it does officially stems from the nation’s Vision 2035 plan. There is little doubt, however, that the bank itself is running well ahead that schedule.
In 2015, the state of Kuwait adopted the United Nations global sustainable development agenda. At the time, KFH’s commitment to greener growth enabled Kuwait City to hit the ground running as the bank financed a slew of low-carbon construction projects.
Since then, KFH has steadily grown its footprint as a sustainability pioneer in the Middle East. Along the way, it has contributed to the government being able to meet its UN Sustainable Development Goals commitments. The 2035 plan to transform Kuwait into a global financial and trade hub has a strong Islamic banking component.
The scale and dynamism of the industry KFH has come to represent gives the bank an outsized role in driving Kuwait’s global aspirations. The country hopes to position itself as a commercial and geopolitical centre driven by the kind of services and project finance capability that the bank provides.
This makes KFH, under acting chief executive Abdulwahab Iesa Alrushood, much more than just a systemically important bank. Its role as Islamic banking market leader and its expansive network linking almost every continent make it a strategic pillar of what Kuwait hopes to be in 12 years.
KFH’s vital role as a connector between key economies including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia, Bahrain and Germany is growing. As Gulf region players seek to offer products and services in retail and commercial banking, real estate, leasing, project finance, asset management, private banking and green finance, the potential is big.
The bank is rolling out its new KFH Trade system, aimed at expanding its international customer base. In collaboration with Boursa Kuwait, the system reaches across the Gulf markets to facilitate electronic trade in accordance with Islamic Shariah principles. Available via apps developed for Apple and Google Play users, KFH sees it as a powerful amplifier of its sustainable message and a vital conduit to share its Shariah-compliant products and services.
KFH's role as Islamic banking market leader and its expansive network linking almost every continent make it a strategic pillar of what Kuwait hopes to be
KFH’s recent partnership with the UN Development Programme to expand sukuk issuance is an important initiative. With the technical support of UNDP, Alrushood argues KFH can accelerate efforts to increase the global appeal of Islamic green finance and mitigate carbon emissions. It is an example of the bank’s determination to increase investment in green sukuk and help scale up the Gulf’s embrace of the SDG trends driving global markets.
KFH is also focusing on the green Islamic investment space, with an eye on millennials and Generation Z. In February 2023, the bank participated in a three-day climate change hackathon held at Gulf University for Science and Technology. The event showcased the need for greater sustainability and environment preservation. It fits in with KFH’s Keep it Green campaign to support environmental, social and governance initiatives.