Access to finance empowers Afghan women

by Wadsam | July 26, 2016 9:08 pm

USAID’s Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan (FAIDA) program, in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, organized the “Empowering Afghan Women through Access to Markets and Financial Services” event at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on July 26, 2016.

The event recognized successful Afghan women entrepreneurs, representing thousands of others from across the country, who have benefited from improved access-to-finance, business-to-business, and internship opportunities facilitated by USAID’s FAIDA program.

Since its inception in 2011, FAIDA has provided more than $56 million in private sector loans to over 5,500 businesses, including $3.2 million to almost 1,800 female-owned or operated businesses.  These loans have benefitted over 75,000 Afghan families by helping to create nearly 6,000 new jobs, of which about 1,800 are for women.

“Businesswomen and female employees have a strong role to play not just in the private sector but in the economy as a whole in Afghanistan.  We must continue to support their efforts to pursue equality and economic empowerment through financial inclusion initiatives and internship programs such as those offered by USAID’s FAIDA program,” said Ambassador Michael McKinley.  “It is through education and greater advancement opportunities in the workplace that we can change women’s lives in Afghanistan,” he added.

“We have come a long way, but have many more miles to go and difficult milestones to achieve before we can see women as equal and full partners in the transformation of our country,” said Khan Afzal Hadawal, First Deputy Governor of Da Afghanistan Bank.  “For the way forward, I strongly believe that women’s economic advancement must be a top priority for our Government and for our partners.  We must ensure effective, adequate access to finance for women led and run businesses,” Mr. Hadawal continued.

 Following the speeches, the women-owned enterprises held an exhibition to showcase their products—that included handicrafts, silk clothes, jewelry, embroidery, saffron, dry fruits, and spices—to the prominent government and international audience and participants at the ceremony.

USAID’s FAIDA program helps build a sustainable, diverse and inclusive Afghan financial sector that can generate and sustain quality employment, and can meet the needs of businesses of all sizes.  The $108 million program began in February 2011 and ends in August 2016.

With nearly $17 billion spent on development programs in Afghanistan since 2002, USAID provides the largest bilateral civilian assistance program to Afghanistan. USAID partners with the government and people of Afghanistan to ensure economic growth led by the country’s private sector, to establish a democratic and capable state governed by the rule of law, and to provide basic health and education services for all Afghans.

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