April 16, 2007

RCCDF Receives the Prestigious Stolypin Award

On April 16 Russian Minister of Agriculture Alexei Gordeev awarded the Director of the Rural Credit Cooperation Development Foundation (RCCDF) Vladimir Pahomov with a Stolypin Award for excellence in credit and investment in agriculture. The award recognized the achievements of RCCDF, which partners with ACDI/VOCA in promoting rural credit cooperatives. By tradition, the award is given to an individual, but Pahomov accepted it on behalf of RCCDF as an institution.

ACDI/VOCA-Russia Chief of Party Michael Harvey said, “As USAID has provided and continues to provide critical support for cooperative development in Russia, and as USDA provided the initial loan capital that RCCDF administered through the Russian American Lending Program and continues to be active in the life of RCCDF, I am sure that this award is good news for all.”

The award is named after the famous Russian reformer Pyotr Stolypin, who as prime minister from 1906 to 1911 introduced significant agrarian reforms including land reform. This was the sixth annual Stolypin Awards ceremony. Close to 20 awards are presented each year in various categories.

ACDI/VOCA partners with RCCDF through its Cooperative Development Program (CDP) to develop and support cooperatives and to provide them with credit for much-needed machinery, extra workers and new plots of land. Cooperative development is a global ACDI/VOCA priority. ACDI/VOCA’s CDP/Russia is funded by USAID.

Since 1992 ACDI/VOCA has played an important role in Russia through financial services and agribusiness development projects. The RCCDF, together with ACDI/VOCA, managed the groundbreaking Russian-American Loan Program that helped to bring rural credit to Russia. From a start of $6 million in USDA capitalization, the RAL Program now has $10 million of equity and has successfully loaned over $38 million to rural credit cooperatives. Over 91,000 people belong to Russian rural credit co-ops, and it is the best—or only—access to financing available to many of them.

According to Harvey, “While credit cooperatives improve access to credit for farmers and rural entrepreneurs and are thus an important economic development tool, they also facilitate grassroots improvements to local civil society.”

To support rural enterprise in the North Caucasus area of Russia, ACDI/VOCA implements in partnership with RCCDF the USAID-funded North Caucasus Rural Credit Cooperatives and Agribusiness Development Program. ACDI/VOCA is also helping Russians gain a foothold in the financial world through its USAID-funded Sakhalin Regional Microcredit Program, which established the Sakhalin Small Enterprise Development Fund (SSEDF), a microfinance institution, and the Sakhalin Small Business Credit Society (SSBCS), a specialized consumer cooperative. To increase the sustainability of agricultural enterprises, ACDI/VOCA currently implements the Russia Farmer-to-Farmer Program, which is part of a worldwide initiative that seeks to develop and increase the sustainability of private gricultural enterprises and support organizations as well as rural finance organizations.

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