Today, I hosted a ceremony in Washington with the Board of Directors of the Albanian-American Enterprise Fund (AAEF) to celebrate the return of $15 million to American taxpayers. The Albanian-American Enterprise Fund was established in 1995 with a $30 million grant from USAID to assist the economic transformation of Albania after the fall of the Soviet Union. The AAEF promoted private sector development by investing in a wide range of enterprises, providing management advice, and training entrepreneurs. The Fund has leveraged over $750 million in growing the Albania economy, creating over 3,500 jobs, and establishing a legacy foundation, the Albanian American Development Foundation, endowed with over $200 million to continue supporting sustainable economic development, entrepreneurial leadership and cultural tourism in Albania.

At the ceremony, the Chairman of the AAEF, Michael D. Granoff, presented a symbolic check for $15 million to USAID for the funds returned to the Treasury of the United States. This money represents half of the initial USAID investment that produced such outstanding results.

Speaking at the ceremony, I recognized the results, the return of funds to the Treasury, the efforts of the Board and staff of AAEF, the work of my E&E colleagues who made this possible, and welcomed the participation of our distinguished guests. Ambassador Galanxhi, Coordinator Rosenblum, Rep. Elliot Engel, Chairman Granoff, and SDAA Roberta Mahoney all added their comments to this welcome occasion.