The government of Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday signed an agreement for $200 million in loans to strengthen microfinance in Bangladesh.
The deal would also support microenterprises, particularly those owned by women and those located in regions with high climate risks.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Sharifa Khan and ADB’s Country Director Edimon Ginting signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides, according to BSS.
The Microenterprise Financing and Credit Enhancement Project will increase the liquidity of microfinance institutions (MFIs), which are key lenders to microenterprises, by channelling funds through Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), said an ADB press release.
PKSF is a state-owned microfinance and development organisation that on lends to partner MFIs.
"Microenterprises are effective tools to generate employment, cut rural poverty, and reduce urban-rural economic disparities," said Country Director Edimon Ginting.
"Strengthening microfinance is critical for socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and revitalising the economy," said Ginting.
The ADB Country Director also said this initiative builds on previous ADB support to PKSF to further boost available funding for MFIs as well as encourage commercial bank funding by reducing perceived credit risks.
The project targets that at least 80 per cent of microenterprise borrowers be owned or led by women. The project will develop a business plan update and digitalisation roadmap for PKSF as well as a diagnostic review of its partner MFIs' operational costs to enhance their viabilities.
Eligible MFIs to receive financing through PKSF will dedicate at least 10 per cent of their lending portfolio to microenterprises coming from regions facing adverse climate risks, such as floods, cyclones, and drought.
To encourage commercial bank funding, the project will help pilot a credit guarantee fund at PKSF that will cover the credit risk for small and medium-sized MFIs.
This complements ADB's ongoing Microfinance Risk Participation and Guarantee Programme under its private sector operations. Due to small-sized operations, lack of collateral, and weak operational capacity and information systems, MFIs find it difficult to secure commercial bank financing to on-lend to microenterprises.
A technical assistance (TA) amounting to $1 million will help develop the credit guarantee fund as well as partner MFIs' capacity to enhance women's entrepreneurship skills. The TA will help promote environmentally responsible microenterprise financing through advisory services for those affected by climate risks.
This new project builds on the success of the $50 million Microenterprise Development Project that was approved in 2018 and additional $50 million financing approved in 2020 to support microenterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.