The grant will enable the D.C.-based organization to make financial services accessible to more Afghans by expanding and updating operations at eleven village bank branches; increasing client outreach to 45,000 people in the Laghman, Nangahar, Konar, Ghor, Herat, Balkh, and Kunduz provinces; accumulating a loan portfolio of more than $10 million; and achieving operational sustainability. The project, the Agriculture, Rural Investment and Enterprise Strengthening (ARIES) Program, will also complement USAID's existing Alternative Livelihoods Program and will help establish a market-based, wholesale Rural Investment Fund to provide financing to cooperatives, farmers' associations, and small and midsize enterprises throughout the country.
FINCA has more than twenty years' experience operating "village banks" in areas ravaged by war or civil unrest, including three years in Afghanistan, where it has helped nearly fifty thousand poor entrepreneurs and returning refugees, primarily women and ethnic minorities displaced by war, to start or expand farms and small businesses in often-volatile rural areas.
"USAID has recognized the power of microfinance as a tool to foster economic development and stability in even the most war-torn countries of the world," said FINCA executive director Rupert Scofield. "We're proud to partner with USAID to deepen and expand our operations in Afghanistan to help thousands of Afghan people improve their lives, their communities, and their country."