Canada boosts support for successful Afghan micro finance program

Feb 2007
Ottawa, Canada, February, 06 2007 - Josée Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages on Tuesday announced that Canada will allocate an additional $16 million to Afghanistan`s national microcredit program, the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA).

"Microfinance has proven to be a vital and effective tool in helping Afghans rebuild their lives and regain their self-sufficiency," said Minister Verner. "As the leading international donor for this program, Canada`s New Government is ensuring the freedom of Afghans, especially women, to invest in the future and long-term growth of their country."

Minister Verner made the announcement at a breakfast hosted by the Board of Trade of Metropolitain Montreal, with fellow guests Amjad Arbab, Managing Director of MISFA, and Mary Coyle, the Director of the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, world-renowned as a centre of excellence in community-based development. Ms. Coyle sits as Canada`s Representative on the Board of Directors for MISFA.

CIDA will provide $16 million to MISFA, which provides poor Afghans with access to loans and financial services that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Launched by the Government of Afghanistan in 2003, MISFA funds 13 microfinance institutions that, in turn, offer a range of income generation and enterprise development services, as well as consumer loans to the poor. Currently, the microcredit program is helping over 300,000 Afghans, almost three quarters of whom are women. During the last 12 months, the number of Afghans benefitting has almost doubled, with an average of over 10,000 additional Afghans accessing the program each month.

Last year, an interim performance review of MISFA and the Afghan microfinance sector was commissioned by the Afghan Government and international donors including Canada. Published in October 2006, the report concludes that MISFA`s design and implementation should serve as a model for building the microfinance sector in other conflict affected countries.

Today`s announcement is part of Canada`s total contribution of nearly $1 billion over 10 years aimed at reconstruction, reducing poverty and strengthening Afghanistan`s governance, all of which are key elements in stabilizing the country and the region.


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