The Building Rural Entrepreneurial Capacities: Trust and Opportunity Project will target at-risk groups such as women, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, youth and families displaced by internal conflict, and will create mechanisms to improve food security and increase their incomes by as much as 31 per cent, the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said in a news release.“The Trust and Opportunity Project provides the Government of Colombia with an unprecedented opportunity to build peace and enhance social inclusion, and to reduce inequalities in the country,” said IFAD’s Associate Vice President, Kevin Cleaver, during a ceremony last week in Rome.He added, “The project introduces a number of innovations, including the use of mobile banking in remote rural areas, the establishment of a special fund to support youth enterprise development, and the piloting of new data-gathering technologies for monitoring project progress and impact.”To finance the $69 million project, IFAD has loaned $50 million to Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, while the Colombian Government will provide $5.76 million, and an additional $13.7 million will come from joint funding from project participants for savings mobilization, insurance and funding for microenterprises.In the Colombian countryside, some seven million people live below the poverty line and two million are considered to be extremely poor, according to IFAD. In addition, about 13 per cent of the population do not have sufficient incomes to meet their basic food needs, and approximately 3.6 million people have been displaced by internal conflict.Since 1981, the UN agency has contributed some $93 million to rural empowerment projects in Colombia.

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