The FINANCIAL — The EBRD is providing two local currency loans for the equivalent in Armenian dram of US$ 10 million to Araratbank, one of the leading banks in Armenia and a long-standing EBRD partner.
The funds will support Araratbank meeting the growing demand for financing from local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), especially in rural areas and from female entrepreneurs, according to EBRD.
The loan for on-lending to women-led small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) comes under the EBRD Women in Business programme that includes the EU Eastern Partnership countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The EBRD Women in Business programme was established 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. The programme is funded by the European Union, Sweden and the Early Transition Countries Fund.
EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: “We are pleased to continue our successful cooperation with Araratbank. This transaction underlines the EBRD’s commitment to supporting the development of private businesses throughout Armenia and to promote lending to women entrepreneurs. A well-functioning private sector is the backbone of a healthy economy. I am confident this credit line, together with the additional combination of advice, know-how and non-financial support services from our Women in Business team, will help women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and prosper.”
Ashot Osipyan, the Chairman of the Executive Board of Araratbank, added: “I highly appreciate the cooperation with the EBRD. Our mutual long-term collaboration with such a reputable international institution has been enormously beneficial for our bank and our customers in many aspects – in attracting investment funds as well as in receiving consultancy advice and technical assistance. Businesswomen as well as small and medium-sized enterprises have always been in the spotlight of Araratbank and this programme is a new opportunity in terms of fostering their businesses and creating additional value in the country’s economy.”
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.