ArmInfo. Small and medium-sized enterprises led by women in Armenia are set to benefit from greater access to finance as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) extends fresh funds to Acba Bank, supported by the European Union (EU) and Sweden. This is stated in the EBRD press release.
According to the source, a US$ 10 million EBRD loan to Acba, one of Armenia's leading banks, will help it boost lending to women-led businesses in local currency, with an emphasis on reaching new clients and financing firms in rural areas.
Women-owned firms account for 33 per cent of all businesses in Armenia. This financing will aim to address Armenia's gender-related inclusion gap in access to finance.
The new funding comes under the EBRD's Women in Business (WiB) programme, supported by the EU and Sweden and designed to boost female entrepreneurs' access to finance and expertise with training, mentorship and tailored advisory services.
The EU is further supporting the loan for women-led firms through its European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) programme in the form of first-loss risk cover, both on the EBRD financing and on Acba Bank's WiB sub-loan portfolio.
The EFSD+ financial inclusion programme is designed to empower micro, small and medium- sized enterprises, fostering their competitiveness and growth. By offering strong financial tools and expertise, the programme aims to encourage intermediaries to direct new lending towards those businesses that need it most. This is the second loan to Acba bank that has been covered by the EFSD+ programme.
A long-standing partner of the EBRD, Acba bank is among the foremost banks in Armenia, with strong focus on lending to firms in rural areas.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Armenia. The Bank has invested more than ?2 billion in 207 projects in the country to date, where it is supporting private-sector development and the transition to a sustainable, green economy.
According to the Financial Rating of Armenian Banks as of September 30, 2023, prepared by the ArmInfo Information Company, Acba Bank is the undisputed leader in lending to the agricultural sector, providing a volume of 95.1 billion drams or $241.7 million as of today. The share of Acba Bank in the total volume of credit investments of banks in this sector is 35%. The share of agricultural loans in Acba Bank's credit portfolio exceeds 18%. Acba Bank is also a leader in lending to small and medium-sized businesses, providing a volume of 235 billion drams or $597 million, with a y-o-y growth of 48%, and by 32% for 9 months of this year. The SME segment is 45% of the Bank's loan portfolio, and Acba Bank's share in the total market volume exceeds 20%.
For 9 months of 2023, Acba Bank increased its net profit by 28% to 20.9 billion drams or $53.2 million, securing its place in the top three. one of the shareholders of Acba Bank is a subsidiary of the French financial group Credit Agricole - SJSC "SACAM International" with a participation share of 4.55% -0- One of Acba Bank's shareholders is SACAM International SJSC, a subsidiary of the French Credit Agricole financial group, with a 4.55% share.