The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has raised the limit of an existing microfinance risk participation and guarantee program by an additional $100 million in assistance for its microfinance institutions (MFIs). The program has been successful, supporting growth and employment opportunities for over 3 million borrowers across Asia and the Pacific to date.
“Giving small businesses and entrepreneurs access to finance is one proven tool to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty,” said Sabine Spohn, Senior Investment Specialist in ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department. “ADB will continue to expand its support for those at the bottom of the pyramid by increasing the size and scope of the microfinance program.”
The microfinance program is implemented through a risk participation and guarantee structure. Under the program, ADB selects partner financial institutions that provide local currency loans to ADB-approved MFIs. ADB risk participates or partially guarantees the default risk of these MFIs, thereby catalyzing private sector participation and mobilizing additional funds for them.
Since 2010, ADB’s microfinance program has supported $622 million in new loans, and an additional $327 million in cofinancing. The program has worked with 27 MFIs and operates in India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Among the 3.49 million borrowers served by the program, more than 90% have been women and predominately in rural areas. Standard Chartered Bank and Citi as well as IFMR Capital, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and RBL Bank are backers of the program in the risk participation structure.
ADB’s additional financing will help the program expand into new markets in the region, such as Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The program will also expand its scope, allowing the program to guarantee or risk participate directly with MFIs or as part of a financial institution’s overall microfinance portfolio. The program will also be able to partially guarantee bonds and securitization transactions issued by MFIs, thereby enabling greater access by MFIs to capital markets and broadening diversification of funding sources. In addition, tenor on ADB guarantees will increase to up to 5 years. Combined, these changes will offer the program’s partners greater flexibility and encourage a broader range of financial institutions to participate in the program.