The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a local currency loan in Armenian dram equivalent to US$ 8 million through a local currency financing facility to ACBA- Credit Agricole Bank (ACBA), the press-service of EBRD informs.
The funds will support the development of Armenia's private sector with a particular focus on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) as well as women-led businesses.
The equivalent of US$5 million will be on-lent to viable MSMEs, whose access to finance, especially in local currency, remains limited. In addition, the facility will support the development of women's entrepreneurship in Armenia by on-lending the equivalent of US$ 3 million to women-led small and medium-sized businesses.
ACBA-Credit Agricole is one of the leading banks in Armenia, with a dominant position in lending to agriculture and MSMEs for rural areas in particular. Its extensive network of 57 branches in all regions of Armenia allows it to reach out to many potential clients country-wide.
The EBRD Women in Business programme was created to strengthen the role of women in the economy and to date has been rolled out successfully in 25 countries where the Bank invests. It provides access to finance through credit lines to local banks as well as business advice, training and support for women entrepreneurs and women-led enterprises.
The programme combines financing, technical assistance, risk mitigation in the form of first-loss cover for local financial institutions, and business advisory services to support women-led SMEs. Technical assistance and advisory services are jointly funded by the EBRD and the governments of Luxembourg and Sweden. Mark Davis, EBRD Head of the Yerevan office, said: "ACBA is a longstanding client of the EBRD and we have worked on numerous programmes together over the years. This is yet another project that can help us to reach businesses in the region through ACBA's strong rural presence. The EBRD is determined to improve access to finance for small businesses and women entrepreneurs, especially in local currency. We are confident today's loan will be very successful in reaching new companies in every part of Armenia."
"We greatly appreciate this cooperation with the EBRD and consider the Bank to be one of our most important strategic partners. This loan will be directed to supporting women's entrepreneurship as well as financing MSMEs and will enable us to expand our investments in these areas. ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank and the EBRD have already signed more than 10 agreements and I am sure we will continue our effective cooperation," said the Chief Executive Officer of ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank, Hakob Andreasyan, in a speech at today's signing.
Since the start of its operations in Armenia in 1992, the EBRD has invested over ?1.11 billion in 153 projects in the country's financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors, with 88 per cent of these investments being in the private sector.
According to the Financial Ranking of Armenian Banks prepared by ArmInfo as of October 1, 2016 lending to SMEs totaled 18% or $69 mln of the total loan portfolio of the bank. In the banks' total lending to SME the ACBA Credit Agricole Bank's share exceeds 6%. To recall, "ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank" CJSC has been operating in Armenia since 1995. Since September 2006, the majority shareholders of the Bank have been Credit Agricole S.A. (15.56%) and SJSC "Sacam International" (part of Credit Agricole S.A - 12.44%). Along with them, 10 agricultural cooperative unions hold shares in the capital of ACBA- Credit Agricole Bank. By the coverage of the branch network and the number of regional branches, the Bank holds the second position. According to the key balance sheet figures, ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank is in the TOP-5.