EBRD makes first-ever equity investment in microfinance institution, in Tajikistan’s Imon

By Elena Akhmedova

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has made its first-ever equity investment in a microfinance institution. The EBRD and the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) have jointly invested US$ 6.5 million to acquire 12.5 per cent each of shares in IMON International, Tajikistan’s leading microcredit organisation, to help IMON’s transformation into a bank.

“IMON is one of the leading microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the region, and this investment provides an ideal opportunity for the Bank to support its transformation into a specialised bank,” said Ulf Hindstrom, Head of the EBRD’s Resident Office in Dushanbe. “IMON has already received a deposit-taking licence and is working towards becoming a dedicated microfinance bank, able to offer banking services in a severely under-serviced market.”

IMON International is the largest MFI in Tajikistan, with almost 60,000 customers, micro and small entrepreneurs and farmers, which are served via an extensive network of 102 branches and service outlets. It also promotes financial literacy and gender equality.

The official signing ceremony took place in Khujand, the capital of Tajikistan’s Sughd province, on 28 November 2013. It was attended by shareholders of IMON International (including the existing shareholder, the Dutch investment and advisory firm, Triple Jump), and representatives of the government, the National Bank, financial institutions, embassies and the donor community. The EBRD was represented by Mike Taylor, Director of Financial Institutions for Central Asia, Caucasus and Mongolia, Ulf Hindstrom, and Firouza Iskhakova, Principal Banker in charge of the project.

Sanovbar Sharipova, CEO of Imon International, said: “The history of cooperation between the EBRD and IMON started in 2005, when we received our first commercial loan. Today we are proud that the EBRD has become a shareholder of our institution. We look forward to benefiting from the EBRD’s expertise and know-how in our country and the sector for years to come.”