A bank whose operations are as wide-ranging as those of Bank Rakyat can afford to change the way it does business. In 2003, 49 years after its foundation, Malaysia’s Bank Rakyat, one of Asia’s largest co-operative banks, embraced an operating system based on Shariah (Islamic legal) principles. Since then Bank Rakyat has been able to further extend its operations to the Malaysian islands of Sabah and Sarawak.

Bank Rakyat is driven by its commitment to provide affordable financial facilities to support agriculture, fishing, housing, transportation and business, and to encourage saving and thrift amongst its members. It also initiated the Rakan Koop program, which helps small and medium-sized co-operatives upgrade and improve their management skills, as well as providing training and advice on diversifying their businesses.

And, of course, Rakan Koop provides advisory services in the Shariah-based financing system it has embraced.

Story originally published in “Building a Better World: 100 stories of co-operation”, published by the ICA to commemorate the IYC.