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Economy

ADB scholarships help foster human resources

Some 3,500 people across Asia have benefited from bank program

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Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao poses in front of the logo of ADB at its headquarters in Manila on January 8, 2016.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The Asian Development Bank -- which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year -- has provided investment and loans to help improve infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as fostered human resources in member countries.

Since 1988, the ADB has awarded scholarships to more than 3,500 students. After studying at educational and research institutions, the recipients have contributed to the growth of their home countries in both the public and private sectors.

Tolkunbek Abdygulov Sagynbekovich, governor of the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic, said he remembers how happy he was to be awarded an ADB scholarship. He went to the Graduate School of Nagoya University in 2005 to study international development.

Scholarships typically cover tuition at one of 29 universities and research institutions in 10 countries, including Japan, as well as travel and living expenses.

Sagynbekovich recalled it was a great honor to receive the scholarship in Kyrgyzstan. Learning about Japan's economic development, he realized that people's diligence was what made the country's growth possible.

Abdul Qadir Memon, the Pakistani consul general in Hong Kong, received a master's in public policy from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo in 2002. In addition to his area of expertise on trade and development policy, he has become more focused on diversity after studying with students from about 140 countries.

After going back to Pakistan to work for the central government, Memon said the knowledge on comparative economic analysis he learned at GRIPS was of great use in formulating economic policy. In Pakistan, he felt modernization was synonymous with westernization, but after coming to Japan, he saw it was possible to maintain tradition and pursue economic development at the same time, he added.

Low-key efforts

Women make up about 40% of all recipients of the ADB's Japan Scholarship Program, and many have become company executives after returning to their home countries. Bolormaa Luvsandorj founded an investment company after serving as CEO of Golomt Financial Group in her native Mongolia.

Bolormaa, who now helps nurture small businesses, received an MBA from the International University of Japan in Niigata in 2000. The experience of studying with classmates from Japanese companies and getting to know Japanese business practices was a great asset to her, she said.

Building up a global network of connections, such as from companies like Cisco Systems of the U.S. and India's Infosys, has supported her life and career as much as her MBA degree, she said.

Ginaflor Oris, chief financial officer of Philippine construction company Makati Development, studied at the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines on the scholarship. After gaining her master's degree and spending some time in Indonesia, she joined Philippine conglomerate Ayala, Makati Development's parent company.

Had she not won the scholarship, she would have had to work and find a more affordable school, she said.

Japan has a strong influence over the ADB, having been involved in the bank's inception and serving as president. Meanwhile, the launch of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2016 is changing the landscape of investment and loans for the region's infrastructure. The ADB's scholarship program has a crucial role to play in nurturing future Asian leaders.

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