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Supporting entrepreneurs in rural Tajikistan


From Tajikistan’s industrial hubs of Khujand and Dushanbe to the remotest rural villages, IMON International aims to promote sustainable economic development and ensure reliable access to financial services for entrepreneurs. The microfinance institution is one of the oldest EBRD clients in the country and the first such institution in Central Asia to receive financing from the Bank. Led by a female CEO, IMON International supports women in business, farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises.

IMON International was a project of the National Association of Women in Business and started business with 10 employees and three offices in Khujand, Dushanbe and Shakhrituz in 1999. Six years later, the institution was registered as a separate organisation and received its first US$ 1 million loan from the EBRD to expand to the country’s more rural areas.

Financing local enterprises and agribusinesses

The goal is to provide access to high-quality and transparent financial services. That is why IMON is opening more and more new branches in rural areas and is developing exclusive products for agribusinesses and women in business.

Twelve innovative products support Tajik businesses and people, including: “Bahoriston” which provides finance to improve housing conditions (housing repairs); “Investment” which supports the manufacturing sector and purchases of new equipment; and “Start-up business” which helps women to launch their own businesses.

“This is an innovative product,” says the CEO of IMON International, Sanavbar Sharipova of the latter product. “If a woman has some previous knowledge and skills to start her business we can help her improve her management skills, which reduces the risk for us, and give her a loan. We already have successful projects on milk processing, clothing and embroidering,” she adds.

Mrs Sharipova is the first and only woman from Tajikistan who has received an EBRD Women in Business Award.

Local currency lending’s importance for Tajikistan

In January 2013, the EBRD approved a new 29 million Tajik somoni loan (approximately US$ 6 million) to IMON International. This will allow the organisation to expand its activities in a market currently under-served by financial institutions, where demand for financing outstrips supply.

This means additional branches, which will provide support to even more clients and longer-term financing to micro and small businesses. As the loan is in Tajik somoni, IMON and its clients will also avoid foreign currency exchange risks.

This is possible thanks to the EBRD Early Transition Countries (ETC) local currency programme, supported by the Early Transition Fund, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the United States and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund.

With the EBRD’s support, IMON has become one of the largest financial institutions in Tajikistan and opened 13 new branches since 2005. Also, the number of employees has increased from 35 to 1071, about 40 per cent of whom are women.