The FINANCIAL — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the development of women’s entrepreneurship in Belarus by extending a US$3 million (approx. €2.7 million) senior loan to Belarusky Narodny Bank (BNB) for on-lending to women-led small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). BNB will become the first financial institution in Belarus to join the EBRD’s Women in Business programme.
The Women in Business programme, funded by the EBRD, the European Union, Sweden and the EBRD Early Transition Countries Fund*, is available to women-led SMEs in the Eastern Partnership countries, including Belarus. It promotes women’s entrepreneurship by providing access to finance and know-how solutions necessary for business growth.
Francis Delaey, the EBRD’s Head of Office in Belarus, said: “This is just the beginning of an exciting programme, which will allow Belarusian businesswomen to access finance and know-how to help them realise their potential. The importance of small businesses in the country is growing and we see local women entrepreneurs playing a greater role in the process. We are particularly pleased that our long-term partner BNB bank, an established force in SME lending in Belarus, are with us in this important undertaking.”
Konstantin Tsereteli, CEO of Belarusky Narodny Bank, said: “Small businesses in Belarus, including women entrepreneurs, face challenges in accessing the finance and advice they need for their businesses to grow. We are happy to be part of the solution for this situation jointly with a major financial institution like the EBRD. The fact that together we are promoting a specialised product aimed at women in business should stimulate more Belarusian women to launch or develop their businesses.”
The Women in Business programme improves access to finance and advice for women-led SMEs, providing credit lines, risk mitigation and technical assistance to partner financial institutions to improve the supply of financing. On the demand side, the programme also offers advisory projects alongside mentoring, longer-term coaching and entrepreneurship workshops to provide women entrepreneurs with the knowledge and confidence to take the next step, according to EBRD.
The EBRD is currently implementing the Women in Business programme in 16 countries.
Since the start of its operations in Belarus, the EBRD has invested almost €1.8 billion in some 70 projects in various sectors of the country’s economy.
The Women in Business programme in the Eastern Partnership countries is part of the EU4Business initiative, which supports the EU’s projects to back small and medium-sized enterprises in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.