Women in Pakistan have strong embroidery and garment embellishment skills, passing local traditional styles and techniques from generation to generation. Yet due to their limited mobility, these women have had to accept low compensation for their products at local markets or through sales to intermediaries who buy low and profit from resale in higher-value urban markets. Either way, village artisans earn only small amounts for their painstakingly elaborate creations.Read how these women surpassed social and cultural restrictions to develop their product collections, learning in a hands-on environment how to expand their businesses with USAID support.Key components of USAID’s economic growth program include creating jobs, improving the competitiveness of Pakistani small and medium enterprises, addressing agricultural policy, infrastructure and productivity constraints; and significantly increasing women’s access to microfinance.The U.S. is working with the Government of Pakistan to promote the rule of law and equality under the law; build public awareness of the benefits of educating girls and of providing them with economic opportunity and health care as well as of the benefits of changing societal attitudes.
Archives for Economic Growth
One of the lesser-known victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake last January was the country’s financial system. Banks were closed for more than a week. Remittances through Fonkoze, a leading transfer agent, ground to a halt and were only restored when a U.S. inter-agency effort flew in more than $2 million. But even as the US, the international community, and the Government of Haiti help these traditional institutions get back on the feet, a critical roadblock to progress remains: less than 10% of Haitians have ever used a commercial bank.
That’s why we’re thrilled to announce today an innovative partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to incentivize the development of financial services by mobile phone in Haiti. In short, these services are quicker, safer, and cheaper than traditional banking and could play a major role in helping to lift Haitians out of poverty and facilitating the country’s rebuilding process.
As part of the program, our friends at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $10 million for a fund to provide cash awards to companies that initiate mobile financial services in Haiti. USAID will offer technical and management assistance and other funding totaling approximately $5 million through one of our projects, the Haiti Integrated Finance for Value Chains and Enterprise (HIFIVE), already underway to improve access to financial services for the underserved. We’re working with Haitian companies in this effort in order to maximize our impact and address a critical need that had not been met through traditional approaches to development.
This type of program represents the approach I’m deeply committed to promoting here at USAID: cutting-edge technologies and programs deployed in new and unique ways to deliver optimal improvement. I’m very optimistic about what this program can do for Haiti and the short and long-term benefits it can deliver.
Because so few Haitians use commercial banks, savings are limited and insecure, employers must rely on sometimes-risky cash distributions, and remittance transfers (which account for about half of the country’s total income) are slowed. This problem is particularly problematic in rural areas and contributes to the over-concentration of Haitians in Port-au-Prince.
With the development of a mobile banking system, Haitians across the country could send, receive, and store money using their cell phones, better connecting them with relatives abroad who send money, employers who want to quickly and easily pay them, and goods and services they want to purchase. Here at USAID, we hope to be able to use mobile banking to pay workers through our cash-for-work programs, which currently employ about 24,000 people every day to do rubble removal and mitigation activities.
As we near the six month commemoration of the January 12th earthquake that devastated Haiti, we’re more focused than ever on helping the people of Haiti tackle the indescribably immense challenges that the earthquake posed. We’re working tirelessly with the international community and the Government of Haiti to address in new and innovative ways—such as through this mobile banking initiative–the problems that existed before the quake and that the disaster has only exacerbated. In this way, I am hopeful that we’ll finally be able to turn a corner on Haiti’s development challenges and put it on a path to a better future.
Click here to read our press release on the announcement.
Holding an electric arc in his right hand, and a steel and glass helmet in front of his face with his left, Najeeb Ahmed bears down on a sheet of metal, focusing intensely as he heats a straight line across a forge under the watchful eye of an experienced ironworker.
Like millions of young Pakistanis, the 30-year-old Najeeb is ambitious and eager to work yet is nonetheless unemployed. Becoming a welder may be his last chance to provide a good life for his family of six.
USAID is facilitating the placement of 100,000 Pakistanis – at least half women – in skill-matched jobs through training and placement
centers that establish linkages with the businesses, complementing other USAID programs such as education, health, and economic growth initiatives.
USAID is helping people find new economic options that offer hope for themselves and their children. Growing job opportunities in key emerging sectors, such as food processing, construction, educational and health services, and marble, gems and jewelry will offer a way out of the cycle of poverty and violence currently afflicting much of Pakistan, particularly in the rural parts of the country.
Submitted by Jessica Scott
Administrator Shah took part in the first ever US-India Strategic Dialogue this week. The meeting included a host of senior leaders from both sides. Dr. Shah discussed development as part of the complex relationship between the two countries.
The final 314 American troops from Operation Unified Response were airlifted from Haiti on Tuesday. Even as troops were being pulled out of the country, they continued to work with USAID and the UN in nine camps housing Haitians who lost their homes. The Washington Post’s editorial page commemorated the transition with a lead editorial that mentions USAID in connection with the importance of continued U.S. involvement in Haiti’s recovery. USAID officials who have been leading this effort, including Paul Weisenfeld and Christopher Milligan, attended the World Summit on the Future of Haiti.
The USAID-Funded FIRMS Initiative is helping bridge the gap between Pakistani mango farmers and European consumers. Pakistan exports a relatively small percentage of its mango production. Under the FIRMS program, farmers are being trained in the best ways to pick, sort, grade, and package the Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
By Zack Taylor
On October 8, 2005, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and AJK, killing 74,000 people and injuring 70,000. In the years since the devastating earthquake, reconstruction of the region has been an important component of the development portfolio at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Pakistan.
Read more about efforts to rebuild lives and livlihoods of the families and communities who live in this remote, mountainous province in Pakistan.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the U.S. government mobilized all of its available resources. Military helicopters transported survivors out of destroyed cities and brought in thousands of tons of relief materials such as food, medical services, clothing, and tents in collaboration with the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team. Heavy machinery moved debris to search for victims and set the stage for rebuilding.
The close teamwork of Pakistani and U.S. governments, along Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
submitted by Jonathan Hale
Earlier this week, I flew four hours from Moscow to Sarajevo. Bosnia and Herzegovina is mountainous and very green in the spring. While it is a post-conflict country, people here are still in many ways searching for the path towards sustainable peace and prosperity. Divisions still run deep. Life remains segregated by ethnic community. There are separate schools within the same buildings. Multiple layers of segregated government and politics. There are even segregated telephone systems! Speaking with our very talented local foreign national staff, it is clear that there are still deep and painful memories of war here, even though it ended more than a decade ago. It’s striking to note that, according to the UNDP, a considerable proportion of Bosnians (up to 19% per UNDP figures), which enjoyed a relatively high living standard before the war now live at or below the poverty line.
I spent Wednesday and Thursday on the road. We drove around the country from Sarajevo to Mostar, Grude, Jajce, and Banja Luka in the Republika Srpska, and back. Along the way, I saw some hope along with the challenges. In Grude, I met with a mayor that is pressing for reforms to make government more responsive to the needs of the people. I understand there are a handful of other mayors and local officials like him throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. I had the privilege of participating in a community event Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Economic growth is critical to reducing poverty and building a better future. The African Growth and Opportunity Act was signed into law 10 years ago to support free markets and growing economies throughout Africa, and USAID has been building on AGOA by supporting entrepreneurs, promoting exports, and creating trade networks. And the results have been incredible. Success stories throughout Africa—from fair-trade cotton farmers in Senegal to a blooming flower market in East Africa—illustrate how trade improves lives. Read a brand-new collection of stories from the field.
Currently in Beijing, Administrator Shah is taking part in development-specific talks led by Secretary Clinton at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
Later this week, Administrator Shah will be in Dhaka to participate in the Food Security Investment Forum hosted by the Government of Bangladesh. This forum is a country-specific element of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
Just came from a series of meetings with our international partners in South Darfur.
We discussed a number of Darfur’s complex challenges with leaders from the World Food Programme, United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the UN Population Fund and other UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs.
Security continues to be a serious challenge for humanitarian agencies trying to access vulnerable populations. And now there’s a disturbing trend of attacks and abductions of humanitarian staff. Two UNAMID peacekeepers were recently killed when their vehicle was ambushed outside of Nyala.
Insecurity is also preventing the millions of displaced Dafuris from returning home.
But in addition to the security concerns, many Darfuris are wondering what they have to go back to, especially the young people, who have largely grown up in these camps. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
In yesterday’s meeting with technology entrepreneurs, we learned about a new innovation hub in Nairobi that’s serving as an incubation space for the local tech community.
Needless to say, we were intrigued. So today I decided to investigate and paid a visit to the iHub –a modern, open and light filled community workspace where programmers, tech entrepreneurs, investors Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »