By Axel Reiserer
Women-led micro, small and medium-sized businesses will benefit from the Agency for Finance in Kosovo (AFK) becoming the first microfinance institution in the country to join the EBRD Women in Business programme.
AFK will receive a €1 million(US$1.09million) loan from the EBRD for on-lending to women-led local enterprises as the Bank ramps up its support for the economies where it invests, which are faced with the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.
The loan will contribute to women’s economic inclusion in Kosovo by supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises led by women to better access finance and business advisory services. It also aims to support the alleviation of gender gaps while demonstrating the business case for scaling up lending to this segment.
The EBRD Women in Business programme supports women entrepreneurs to access finance and know-how to grow their businesses. Since its launch in 2014, the programme, supported in Kosovo by Luxembourg and Sweden, has provided more than €520 million in credit lines, reaching more than 70,000 women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in 18 countries, with access to finance, advisory services, training, mentoring and network-building activities.
In the Western Balkans, the programme has reached over 5,000 women entrepreneurs with financing and advisory services to date.
AFK is the fourth-largest microfinance institution in Kosovo. Operating since October 2000, AFK provides access to finance to micro and small firms run by entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas. AFK services the whole of Kosovo through a network of 23 branches.
The EBRD has invested over €484 million in Kosovo through 72 projects since it began operations there in 2012. Supporting the competitive development of the private sector is one of the Bank’s key priorities in Kosovo.