Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems
In October 2006, USAID launched the $80 million Agriculture, Rural Investment and Enterprise Strengthening (ARIES) Program. Administered by the Academy for Educational Development in partnership with FINCA, the World Council of Credit Unions, ACDI/VOCA, MISFA, and Shorebank International, ARIES aimed to create a strong foundation for a sustainable, market-driven rural finance program in Afghanistan that would also expand employment opportunities. By establishing or partnering with commercial banks, microfinance service providers and rural financial cooperatives, ARIES supported the provision of a broad range of financial services to rural microentrepreneurs and households. ARIES accomplishments included 222,000 loans delivered to 65,000 borrowers and $130+ million in capital injected into the Afghan economy through 119 financial services outlets. ARIES was particularly successful in reaching out to female borrowers who represent 49 percent of clients by loans made. In September 2009, ARIES had ongoing activities in 24 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
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