The largest bank in the Kyrgyz Republic, Optima Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have teamed up to expand access to financing to Kyrgyz small businesses and to facilitate foreign trade for local corporates.
Today, the two institutions have signed two loan agreements, for a US$ 11 million credit line for micro, small and medium-sized businesses, and for a US$ 2 million trade finance line under the EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme which will help Optima Bank to support more companies engaged in cross-border trade. Agreements for US$ 20 million in risk-sharing facilities for the financing of local businesses are expected to be signed later.
The EBRD and Optima Bank have already worked together expanding small business financing in the Kyrgyz Republic. Optima Bank, previously known as Unicredit Bank Kyrgyzstan, is now owned by ATF Bank Kazakhstan and is the largest bank in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Part of the financial package will allow Optima Bank to access medium-term local currency financing which it will on-lend to local businesses. Loans in the local currency som will help companies, especially those that have their revenue in Kyrgyz som, to avoid foreign exchange risk. Currently local currency financing is not widely available in the country.
Supporting SMEs is one of the priorities of the new EBRD country strategy for the Kyrgyz Republic, approved in 2015.
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