The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)

Management Committee approved a US $33 million grant to continue supporting the Afghanistan’s Microfinance Support for Poverty Reduction Project.
With this additional commitment, which is aligned with the 1386 national budget, the total ARTF contribution to Microfinance sector reaches US $119.3 million since the
Program started in 2003, Said in a statement released here on Wednesday.

The additional financing will support expansion of services to more provinces And help improve the operational sustainability of microfinance service Providers to meet the needs and demands of many poor Afghans, particularly Women, added in the statement.

The Microfinance Support for Poverty Reduction Project was established in 2003 as a vehicle through which Government and donors could channel funds to build up the lower end of the financial sector, according to the statement.

So far the project has provided credits for more than 325,000 clients in 22 provinces through 15 microfinance Institutions.

The Microfinance Investment Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA) been implementing the project since June 2003.

“Looking at the number of clients the project has reached so far, it gives an optimism that the sector can rapidly grow and expand to reach most needy and vulnerable Afghans across the country ” , said Stephen Rasmussen, World Bank
Project Team Leader for Microfinance.

According to (MISFA) officials,By end of May 2007, out of the 350,000 active clients, seventy percent are women and the loan repayment rate is 95 percent.

In 2006, the sector disbursed US$7million in loans every month and added more than 10,000 clients per month.

Thesector now employs over 3,500 Afghans, and, in 2006, more than 600 Afghans weretrained in microfinance operations.

The project anticipates that it will reach at least 600,000 poor households in most provinces by the end of 2008.

The sector as a whole is already covering 89 percent of its costs from its own income earned from lending activities.

Three of the microfinance institutions have already become profitable with no dependency on subsidy from MISFA, and it is believed that most of the other Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) will achieve sustainability by the end of 2008.

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