US announces $1.9 mn aid to support workers, enterprises hit by COVID-19 in India

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New Delhi (NVI): The United States government, through its US Agency for International Development (USAID), has committed $1.9 million to support vulnerable populations in India whose livelihoods have been disrupted by Covid-19.

The financial aid is aimed at helping informal sector workers and micro-enterprises affected by the pandemic in the country, in terms of job losses and shutting of businesses.

US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster highlighted the need to provide financial assistance to people affected by the disruption caused by COVID-19. “The global COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected those who are vulnerable and less fortunate, thereby increasing the economic challenges these groups face,” he was quoted as saying by US Embassy.

“The financial assistance from USAID, extended generously by the American people to partners in India, will support efforts to rebuild local economies and improve the livelihoods of Indians who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” Juster added.

USAID funds will support the REVIVE alliance, founded by the Samhita-Collective Good Foundation and co-funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Omidyar Network India, and the Ford Foundation, the US Embassy said in a release.

The aid will address challenges caused by unemployment and income gaps faced by workers in the informal economy in the country.

REVIVE will launch a USD 6.85 million blended finance facility in its first phase to provide accessible and affordable capital in the form of returnable grants or loans to self-employed workers and at-risk nano and micro enterprises to either sustain their work or find alternative business opportunities, the release noted.

The facility is expected to reach between 60,000-100,000 workers and enterprises and will give preference to youth and women. It will also undertake upskilling activities for laid-off youth and informal laborers, it added.

Moreover, the Samhita-Collective Good Foundation will initiate shared-value partnerships with a range of stakeholders, including business chambers, non-banking financial companies, private enterprises, and others.

USAID support will further deepen REVIVE’s work by augmenting its secretariat strengthening strategic partnerships and offering technical assistance to partners.

However, the US government continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This financial assistance supplements over USD 11 million in assistance previously provided by USAID to bolster India’s COVID-19 response and preparedness, and the donation of 200 US-manufactured ventilators to assist in its fight against COVID-19.