E
The overall landscape of the microfinance sector has changed considerably over the last decade. The last 10 years have seen strong growth across the sector. This has been facilitated by the expansion of microfinance institutions under a variety of shapes, from microfinance banks to specialized NGOs. In 2005, the European Union and the ACP Group of States launched the first EU/ACP Microfinance programme for the development of sound microfinance within the ACP countries, with a budget of 15 M Euro for 5 years in the framework of a comprehensive strategy for private sector development. But the sector has still a long way to go and the ACP countries in particular, with a few exceptions, have seen a relatively slower sector growth. As an average, access to finance in ACP countries remains lower than in the rest of the world, with only one out of five households having proper access to financial services. The overarching goal of the EU/ACP Microfinance programme II is to contribute to poverty alleviation through economic growth. With this particular background, the Programme has decided to focus its action on three main components (i) Pro-poor access to finance, (ii) Consumer empowerment and capacity building, (iii) Equitable and efficient local markets. AETS task is to perform the programme's final evaluation.

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