Almaty, Kazakhstan, November 4, 2013—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, is launching a project to increase access
to finance for micro entrepreneurs. The project will help microfinance
institutions (MFIs) introduce new products, strengthen their operations,
and promote responsible finance, expanding the economy and creating jobs.
IFC, with the backing of Switzerland’s
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), will help MFIs develop their
services in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan
as part of the Azerbaijan and Central Asia Micro and Responsible Finance
Project. The project will also help MFIs lend responsibly through targeted
assessments and, where necessary, IFC will conduct studies on market debt
based on lessons learned in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Switzerland has been actively supporting
the region for many years,” said Martina Locher, Program Manager of SECO.
“With the launch of the new initiative we will support the microfinance
sector and promote responsible finance in Azerbaijan and Central Asia.
This is of particular importance in a region where a big part of the population
does not have access to finance.”
IFC launched the first phase of its Central
Asia Microfinance Transformation Support Project in 2008. Now, with funding
from SECO, IFC is implementing the project’s second phase in Azerbaijan,
Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan.
“Supporting microfinance and increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs
is crucial to harnessing the potential of private enterprise in Central
Asia,” said Natasha Goronja, IFC Program Manager. “IFC helps microfinance
institutions develop financial products to reach out to more people in
a cost-effective way.”
IFC previously assisted the eight largest MFIs in Central Asia on transformation
strategies, facilitating more than $60 million direct foreign investments
to the region. In the Kyrgyz Republic, Bai-Tushum and Partners became the
first microfinance bank in the country. In Tajikistan, IMON International
and FINCA Tajikistan successfully launched deposit operations, and Arvand
significantly increased remittances. IFC’s clients altogether helped about
6 percent of the working-age population in Tajikistan, and about 7 percent
in the Kyrgyz Republic to access microfinance financial services.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development
institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private
enterprises in more than 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise,
and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.
In FY13, our investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion,
leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs and tackle the
world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is the Swiss competence
center for all core issues relating to economic policy. SECO implements
economic development cooperation with developing and transition countries
with the aim of supporting the sustainable integration of these countries
into the world economy and to promoting their economies in order to help
reduce poverty. SECO is part of the Swiss Federal Department for Economic
Affairs. Further information can be found at: http://www.swiss-cooperation.admin.ch/centralasia/