IFC announces Funding to boost Women Entrepreneurs in Georgia

IFC has announced a long-term local currency loan of 100 million Georgian lari (about $35 million) to Bank of Georgia to help boost access to finance for smaller businesses and women entrepreneurs.

The investment is supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility, a pioneering global initiative by IFC and the Goldman Sachs Foundation to expand access to capital for women entrepreneurs.

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Access to finance is the second most-cited problem for businesses in Georgia, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018.

While small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make up the majority of Georgian businesses, they receive only about 20 percent of bank lending. IFC estimates the total finance gap for SMEs in Georgia at $2.1 billion, with demand from women-owned enterprises accounting for 43 percent of the gap, according to the 2017 MSME Finance Gap Report.

IFC’s investment aims to address this by helping Bank of Georgia expand its crucial local currency lending to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), with a quarter of the loan earmarked for women-owned businesses.

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Bank of Georgia CEO, Archil Gachechiladze said, “Amid further de-dollarization of the Georgian economy, the local currency facility from IFC will further strengthen our position as a leading local currency lender in the Georgian market and enable us to increase lending to the MSME business segment, where we see significant opportunities. The Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility is an important tool that will help us boost our support to female-led enterprises.”

IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus, Jan van Bilsen said, “IFC is working with Bank of Georgia, our long-standing client, to help expand access to local currency financing, which is critical for the growth of smaller businesses. Those businesses are the engines of economic growth and women entrepreneurs are especially underserved. We aim to ensure all smaller firms get the access to finance they need to grow, create jobs, and drive economic growth.”

The Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility was launched by IFC through its Banking on Women program and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women in 2014. To date, IFC has invested $1.4 billion and reached 53,000 women entrepreneurs in emerging markets through the Facility.

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IFC’s Banking on Women program provides financing and advice to financial institutions to help them acquire and profitably finance women-owned SME and retail customers. The first loan in Georgia under the program was to Bank of Georgia in 2012 and helped the bank increase its lending to women SME owners.

To date, women-led and women-held businesses represent about 20 percent of the bank’s MSME loans portfolio. Bank of Georgia is working to increase this by helping its clients get the advice and training they need to expand.

Georgia became an IFC member and shareholder in 1995. Since then, IFC has provided around $1.98 billion in long-term financing, of which nearly $980 million was mobilized from partners, in 61 projects in financial services, agribusiness, manufacturing, and infrastructure. In addition, IFC has supported more than $394 million in trade through its trade finance program, and implemented a number of advisory projects focused on developing the private sector.

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