EBRD, EU and Sweden offer support to women entrepreneurs in Armenia

Promoting inclusion as a core element of successful economies the EBRD is launching the extension of its successful Women in Business programme in Armenia to the local lenders Ameriabank and ACBA-Credit Agricole.

Both banks joined the programme at the end of last year and are now ready to provide loans to women-led businesses in accordance with the programmes guidelines and goals.

Araratbank will shortly join the Programme as well. Ashot Osipyan, Chairman of the Executive Board of Araratbank OJSC, said: “Different loan products are regularly developed and offered to women at the most favourable terms by our bank. This project will enable women to implement their projects and ideas. It will also provide an opportunity to create new jobs through supporting economic growth. Women have great business potential and we will contribute towards delivering it with to this vital programme.”

Armenia was one of the first countries to start the Women in Business programme in the countries of the Eastern Partnership Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia Moldova, and Ukraine. The programme promotes women’s entrepreneurship and supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) led by women through access to finance and advisory services.

The Women in Business programme in the Eastern Partnership countries is funded by the EBRD, the European Union, Sweden and the Early Transition Countries Fund. The EBRD made an initial contribution of US$ 55 million to create credit lines for on-lending to women-led businesses via local financial institutions to the programme in the Eastern Partnership countries alone.

The programme helps women-led SMEs to access the finance and advice they need to grow, offering financing through local partner financial institutions, technical assistance for participating financial institutions and business advice for women entrepreneurs. The programme also includes advisory services projects with mentoring and longer-term coaching

Mark Davis, EBRD Head of the office in Yerevan, said: “We believe that when market failures are addressed, obstacles removed and women-led SMEs are given equal opportunities, they can deliver in terms of economic performance and job creation.”

The Government of Sweden has allocated SEK 47 million (approx. €5.2 million) to the implementation of the programme in the Eastern Partnership countries. Margareta Kristianson, Chargée d’Affaires a.i. at Embassy of Sweden in Armenia, said: “Supporting the development of women’s entrepreneurship has been identified as the key for economic growth in the region. Women’s entrepreneurship is an important contributor to the national economy, and the number of companies run by women is growing at a faster pace than those run by men.”

A further €4.5 million has been made available from the European Union Neighbourhood Investment Facility to finance the credit enhancement and part of the capacity building programme for partner financial institutions. €0.9 million has also been provided by the EBRD’s Early Transition Countries Fund.

Piotr Świtalski, EU Ambassador to Armenia, added: “The EU is working all over Armenia to promote equal rights for all in any sector of activity. The EU considers that Armenian women along with young generation should play fully their role as a driving force of the Armenian economy and the EU will invest more and more in those. Armenian women-led SMEs represent a major opportunity in terms of economic growth and the EU hopes that Armenian authorities will consider this as well and make their business life easier.”

In its new transition concept, launched at the beginning of the year, the EBRD identifies six transition qualities: the Bank believes that a well-functioning market economy should be competitive, well-governed, green, inclusive, resilient and integrated.

The EBRD is currently implementing the Women in Business programme in 16 countries.

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