The Rural Areas Economic Development Programme left a visible and positive impact on rural areas development in Armenia in many respects. Through establishment of the Rural Finance Facility the project improved access of rural small and medium entrepreneurs to short, medium and longer-term investment loans and facilitated employment in rural areas. Investment in infrastructure contributed to improving rural livelihoods, as well as increasing income and food security, and, through crop diversification, increased farming produce and commercial activity.
At the same time, the project could have had better pro-poor targeting design for both loans and infrastructure investments, as its main beneficiaries were rural medium-size enterprises. It is necessary to: step up to the next level of support to institutional and policy reforms in Armenia, including for insurance and leasing schemes in rural areas; diversify loan products; and target specific, more vulnerable groups. IFAD operations in Armenia should further support the value chain approach and include additional awareness activities about the project.