Albania microloan recipients -USAID photoAn original grant of $30 million made by the U.S. Agency for International Development back in 1995 to assist the economic transition in Albania after the fall of the Soviet Union has born fruit — enough so that in a ceremony last week, half the money was returned to the U.S. Treasury with thanks to the American people.

The Albanian-American Enterprise Fund (AAEF) used the money to promote private sector development in Albania by investing in a wide array of private enterprises and providing management advice, training, and best practices to companies. The Fund has completed approximately 62 investment transactions with over 32 Albanian companies, contributing an estimated $725 million to the GDP and creating over 3,500 jobs.


The Fund achieved an extraordinary financial return, the balance of which will continue to promote private sector development by providing grants in areas such as education for sustainable development, entrepreneurship, leadership development, and cultural tourism in Albania.

At the ceremony to return the money on January 19, Assistant Administrator for USAID Europe and Eurasia, Paige Alexander, remarked: “The Albanian-American Enterprise Fund has had tremendous success in Albania’s economic transition over the last twenty years. I commend AAEF Chairman Michael Granoff for his leadership and am deeply appreciative of AAEF’s efforts, which have enabled the entrenchment of economic progress and resulted in the return of $15 million to the American people.”

Over the last twenty years, the USAID Bureau for Europe and Eurasia has established ten Enterprise Funds covering 18 countries to sustain and strengthen development achievements. In all, the Funds have leveraged almost $9 billion – nearly nine times the initial U.S. investment. These innovative funds, like the AAEF, are able to achieve major development outcomes with a sustainable impact, while also giving American taxpayers some return on their investment.

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