WASHINGTON (4/9/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is working to expand the number of member-owned Islamic investment and finance cooperatives (IIFC) in Afghanistan, and WOCCU senior vice president Barry Lennon told an audience of congressional staffers on Thursday that he “expects more growth” as word of the financial cooperatives spreads. Afghanistan’s IIFCs, which WOCCU says are growing by 1000 new members each month, held $8 million in total assets at the end of 2009. WOCCU will establish the Afghanistan IIFC Banking Association to oversee those IIFCs and “provide a framework for consolidation.” (See related story: WOCCU expands Islamic CUs in Afghanistan) The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) late last year awarded WOCCU $60.5 million to expand financial services in southern and eastern Afghanistan. The IIFCs are, in many cases, the only option for financial services in rural areas of Afghanistan. However, the pending expansion of these IIFCs will bring them to the capital city of Kabul, where several Afghan banks currently operate.