Kiva.org is incredibly excited to announce its partnership with Ariana Financial Services Group in Afghanistan.
AFSG was launched in May 2003 by Mercy Corps with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The banking system in Afghanistan has been slow to establish itself since 2001, and remains heavily concentrated in Kabul and larger cities. Even if Afghans have access to a bank, most of them are too poor to qualify for conventional bank loans.
Ariana predominantly supports female entrepreneurs. Historically, Ariana started working in district 7 of Kabul, which had been heavily damaged during the war and was home to many war refugees. Mercy Corps had been building a women's centre there in a Cash-For-Work scheme that employed solely women. After having constructed the centre, the women received vocational training in various handicrafts to allow them - many of them widows - to generate an income for their families. These women were Ariana's first clients and received loans to finance the setup of their businesses.
Today 82% of Ariana's clients continue to be women. Clients run micro-enterprises in all areas of Afghan life; i.e. weaving, carpentry, tailoring, hair dressing, food processing, florists, kite production, knitting, leather working or animal husbandry.
Kiva.org Director of Microfinance Partnerships Chelsa Bocci and AFSG Executive Director, Storei Sadat, signed Kiva.org's Hosting Agreement together at the Global Microcredit Summit today. Kiva.org has received numerous requests from lenders wanting to connect with an entrepreneur in Afghanistan, therefore we are incredibly excited to be announcing this new partnership.