EBRD boosts lending for Belarusian small businesses

By Richard Wallis

In a move designed to boost lending to the small business sector in Belarus, the EBRD today extended a US$ 30 million loan to Belvnesheconombank (BelVEB), which, with 23 branches, has a wide footprint across the country.

The five-year loan will allow BelVEB to lengthen debt maturities when it on-lends to its private clients in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) – a sector with huge potential but which is currently under-served sector.

BelVEB, which ranks among Belarus’s top six banks as measured by assets, has been an EBRD partner in Belarus since 2010, and is a subsidiary of Russia’s state development bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB).

BelVEB is an active lender to the MSME sector, and plans to extend loans largely in US dollars to sub-borrowers with US dollar-linked revenues. Local currency loans have remained costly in Belarus since the 2011 balance of payments crisis put the Belarusian rouble under strong pressure.

This is the EBRD’s third loan to BelVEB.

Francis Delaey, the EBRD’s Head of Office in Belarus, said: “The opening of a credit line according to the MSMEs support programme to BelVEB is a practical example of support to the private sector, which is within the priorities of the EBRD’s activities in Belarus. We are pleased to continue the history of cooperation with BelVEB by signing this agreement today.”