Press Releases

USAID and IFC Launch New Initiative to Develop Microfinance Legislation in Tajikistan

Corrie Shanahan
Phone:  (202) 473 2258

Fax:  (202) 974-4384

Chris Richards

Phone:  (095) 755-8818

Fax:  (095) 755 8298

Dushanbe, October 15, 2002—The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) together with the National Bank of Tajikistan (NBT) today launched the Microfinance Legislation Development Project.  The project will assist the NBT to develop a new legal framework for microfinance in Tajikistan.  This initiative, funded by USAID and implemented by IFC, will work with the government of Tajikistan to develop a stable and consistent legislative base for microfinance activities.  A key aim of the new legislation will be to enable non-government organizations, currently providing finance to new and small local enterprises, to convert into more sustainable financial institutions.

Several microfinance non-government organizations are operating in Tajikistan, including a number funded by USAID.  These institutions provide a critical source of loan financing for small businesses and are a proven means of addressing poverty.  Recognizing the important role of microfinance in raising incomes, the Poverty Reduction Strategy of Tajikistan lists development of financial institutions and supply of credit as one of priorities for poverty reduction in the country.  However, many microcredit NGOs still operate under the protective umbrella of international aid agencies due to uncertainties in the legislation.  The development and subsequent passage of suitable legislation should allow for an independent local market for microfinance institutions to grow in the region.

It is expected that the initial IFC/USAID work will be followed by extensive Asian Development Bank and World Bank training and support that would further strengthen this important source of finance to help drive local economic growth.

“This Project will lead microfinance in the right direction in Tajikistan.  Without the proper legislation, microfinance institutions will not fulfill their potential in supporting the development of a vibrant and growing micro and small business sector,” said Assaad Jabre, Vice President, Operations of IFC, at a press conference on Tuesday in Dushanbe.

“Well-managed microfinance institutions can—and should—be commercially viable so that financial services can be provided to the underserved over the long term, resulting in a substantial and sustainable increase in the volume and range of financial services for microenterprises,” he added.

Ken Gross, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Tajikistan, applauded the new program, which will enable already existing US-funded microfinance providers to operate independently in Tajikistan and build upon work already conducted.

“IFC and USAID will coordinate their efforts with key donor stakeholders to the work, including Asian Development Bank, Soros Foundation Open Society Institute, IBRD and UNDP, which have already significantly contributed to creating a legislative framework in Tajikistan and plan to continue working on complimentary reforms,” Gross said.

The Project will also collaborate with and build on the work of other local USAID funded projects, particularly those working in the areas of bank supervision training and tax code reform.

The Project will build on the work already conducted by USAID and IFC in the region, which included the creation and ultimate passage of microfinance legislation in the Kyrgyz Republic in July, 2002 and a study tour for Tajikistan central bankers to the Kyrgyz Republic.  Project work will be focused initially on Tajikistan.  However, the scope of the initiative also includes legislative framework development in Uzbekistan for microfinance, and follow on training for the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan.

USAID is the government agency providing U.S economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 40 years.

IFC’s mission is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives.  IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.  Since its founding in 1956 through the close of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2002, IFC committed more than $34 billion of its own funds and arranged $21 billion in syndications for 2,825 companies in 140 developing countries.  IFC’s committed portfolio at the end of FY02 was $15.1 billion for our own account and $6.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

In Tajikistan to date IFC has committed investment of more then $22 million in 6 projects: one in mining, one in power generation and four under the Small Enterprise Fund—Tojik Sodirot Bank, Holland Supermarket, Telecom Technologies Internet Expansion Project, and Farmer Ownership Model.  IFC has provided over $2.4 million in TA projects through its donor-supported Technical Assistance Trust Fund Program to support development of Tajikistan’s private sector.  IFC also has an extensive technical assistance initiative in Tajikistan through the Swiss – IFC Central Asia Partnership.  Technical assistance which is jointly funded by Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and IFC.  The Partnership is providing extensive agricultural technical assistance to the Farmer Ownership Model and implementing a project to create a favorable equipment leasing market in Tajikistan.