The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the business activity of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Uzbekistan affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The latest US$ 40 million finance facility, extended to the country’s fourth largest lender, Ipoteka Bank, will also provide support to women-led businesses.
The package will consist of a US$ 30 million loan to SMEs and a US$ 10 million loan for women entrepreneurs under the EBRD’s Central Asian Women in Business (WiB) programme.
The WiB loan will be supported by grant funding from the World Bank-managed Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, which will help women entrepreneurs receive professional training and provide them with the knowledge and confidence to take the next step.
Support for local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises is particularly important for Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populated state, where they employ almost 80 per cent of the workforce.
The EBRD funds will also contribute to the further commercialisation, greater efficiency and competitiveness of Ipoteka Bank, paving the way for its eventual privatisation.