Programs, Micro-Enterprise Development
Economic Opportunities

Around the world, conflict and disaster turn people's lives upside-down and force them to flee their homes. These people are then separated from their jobs, businesses, and farms. They work hard to make ends meet, but they hardly get by.

ARC’s Economic Opportunities programs provide people with the resources to help them get back on their feet.

Through our micro-enterprise development (MED) programs, ARC provides small loans and grants to entrepreneurs - often all a person needs is a loan of $50 to start a business that will support their entire family. ARC also teaches entrepreneurs the skills and knowledge they’ll need to make their business survive and be successful.

The people ARC serves often live in unstable environments and may at any time return to their homes or be forced to flee yet again. ARC has tailored its programs to best serve these people and takes a regional approach to microenterprise development. Entrepreneurs can receive lending and business development services throughout a region - in their country of refuge or their home country. ARC also focuses on providing women with services - women are least likely to receive a loan from another source. The majority of ARC’s MED program clients are women.

ARC’s microenterprise development programs are critical to helping individuals ARC serves rebuild productive lives and families. However, ARC’s microenterprise development programs do more than increase income and build self-sufficiency for these individuals. They contribute to economic growth, alleviate poverty, and reduce unemployment for entire communities. Microenterprise development programs are one of the most powerful ways of creating lasting and widespread change.

ARC runs Economic Opportunities programs in: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Sudan and Thailand.

ARC's Microenterprise Development Services:
  • Small Business Training and Development
  • Small business loans
  • Savings Mobilization
  • Small grants 
  • Savings and Loan Associations

Interesting Statistics:

95% of ARC micro-loans are repaid in full by loan recipients - a far higher rate than U.S. banks enjoy.

More than 75% of ARC's business skills training recipients are women.

A study found that improving women’s education and opportunity was the most important factor in reducing childhood malnutrition.


In September 2006, Finance Sudan - ARC's microfinance insitution in Sudan - began operations. ARC's microfinance institutions provide small loans to active entrepreneurs to strengthen and grow their businesses. Business training and close follow-up mentoring are provided to clients.

Read a recent article (page 4) about ARC's PATHWAYS program in Guinea, providing youth economic opportunities to help them reject violence.  

Read ARC's new Sail Manual: A Stepped Approach for Improving Livelihoods


Current Needs:

ARC’s MED programs often provide displaced people with the final support they need to get back on their feet and be able to support their families, independently. Whether they receive a loan, grant, or skills training, there are thousands more displaced people around the world who would benefit from ARC’s microenterprise development programs.

Related Reading
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Building a Playground
Using only recycled materials, we were able to build a playground for the 5,000 kids living at Kiziba refugee camp in Rwanda.
On Famine
Daniel Wordsworth - American Refugee Committee President - talks about the situation in Somalia and how all of us can make a difference and help save lives.
Returning to Somalia
Nimco Ahmed shares her recent trip back Mogadishu her first time back to Somalia in 24 years
South Sudan
Rebuilding Health Care in South Sudan
Deb Ingersoll runs ARC’s Cash for Work Program in Haiti. She’s interviewed at ARC Headquarters.
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Simona Palenga, ARC Field Coordinator in Haiti, is interviewed at ARC HQ.
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Senior Director of Program Quality Monte Achenbach, is interviewed from the field in Haiti.
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ARC volunteer Dr. John Bordwell talks about the health situation of Congolese refugees in Rwanda.
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Somalia: Photos
photographs from Somalia
South Sudan: Photos
images from our efforts in southern Sudan
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