DUSHANBE (TCA) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the development of women’s entrepreneurship and of agribusiness in Tajikistan with a senior loan in local currency, equivalent to US$ 2 million, to IMON INTERNATIONAL, the largest microfinance institution in the country, the Bank said on August 3.
IMON is the second financial institution to join the EBRD’s Women in Business programme in Tajikistan and the third partner under the EBRD-EU Enhanced Competitiveness of Tajik Agribusiness Programme (ECTAP) launched in late 2016.
The funds will be on-lent to local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) managed by women or active in agriculture or food production. Access to finance for these groups of entrepreneurs is particularly constrained in Tajikistan, where demand for SME financing remains only partially satisfied.
The Women in Business programme is the first of its kind in Tajikistan. It aims to support female entrepreneurs by helping women-led MSMEs to access finance, know-how and advice.
The EBRD-EU Enhanced Competitiveness of Tajik Agribusiness Programme provides a combination of loans and investment grants, to help farmers replace their obsolete machinery and enable financial institutions to introduce modern lending practices.
The loan will be complemented by technical assistance to IMON for the development of sustainable credit mechanisms.
International donors are providing funding for several elements of the Women in Business programme in Tajikistan, specifically first-loss risk cover, technical assistance and advisory support. To date, €450,000 have been allocated by the EBRD Small Business Impact Fund, whose donors are Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the United States of America.
Ayten Rustamova, EBRD Head of Tajikistan, said: “The EBRD is proud to announce the signing of this partnership under the new Women in Business programme in Tajikistan and also welcomes IMON as a partner under ECTAP. Both facilities will help to address the challenges that female entrepreneurs and farmers face, especially with regard to access to finance and technical support.”
Gulbakhor Makhkamova, CEO of IMON INTERNATIONAL, commented: “We are very pleased to have the EBRD as a long-term partner. Together, we are supporting the development of female entrepreneurship in Tajikistan by providing loans to women-led enterprises. We believe that the EBRD’s efforts to promote the economic inclusion of women will have a significant impact on the economic development of the country as a whole.”
IMON INTERNATIONAL is Tajikistan’s largest provider of micro-loans, with over 105,000 clients and 130 regional branches and outlets. Since 2005 it has been a partner of the EBRD, which is also a minority shareholder in the microfinance institution.