A new partnership between IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Isbank Georgia will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Georgia create more job opportunities, as part of a program aimed at increasing access to finance for underserved smaller businesses.
Although the Georgian banking sector is robust and well capitalized, one third of small enterprises in Georgia still name access to finance as their biggest obstacle, according to the World Bank Group's Enterprise Surveys. With the vast majority of enterprises in Georgia being SMEs, addressing this challenge is key to creating more job opportunities. This has led IFC to sign two agreements with Isbank Georgia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Isbank, the largest private banking group in Turkey and IFC's long standing client.
IFC's $10 million loan aims to support Isbank Georgia's strategy to expand its on-lending program to SMEs in Georgia. Isbank's loans are expected to be mainly used by companies to finance the import of equipment, machinery, and other goods, enabling those businesses to expand, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth.
Another agreement for cross-currency interest swaps will allow Isbank Georgia to hedge its USD-denominated funding, in order to better manage its currency and interest rate risk. Under the terms of the agreement, IFC and Isbank will execute cross-currency swap transactions under an International Swaps and Derivatives Association Master Agreement, a standard document used to govern over-the-counter derivative transactions.
Hakan Kural, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Isbank Georgia, said: "We are delighted to establish a partnership with IFC by signing two important agreements. The long-term $10 million loan will allow us to strengthen our position in the SME segment and expand financing to local SMEs, helping them to become more competitive and generate employment. Execution of interest rate and cross-currency swaps will enable us to manage our assets and liabilities better, which in turn will increase benefits for our customers and shareholders."
Vittorio Di Bello, IFC's Regional Head of Industry for Financial Institutions in Europe and Central Asia, said: "Our cooperation with Isbank Georgia aims to scale up on-lending to SMEs, improving access to financing and contributing to job creation in Georgia. By supporting a new player in the Georgian banking sector, we also foster competition on the market. In addition, the project supports the strategy of our long-standing client in Turkey, Isbank, that aims to expand its South-South investment in Georgia, thereby strengthening the country's economic links to one of its key trading partners."
IFC has been actively engaged in Georgia's financial sector for over 20 years through investment and advisory services. IFC's support was instrumental in helping the sector overcome the dual impacts of the 2008 conflict and the global financial crisis.
Georgia became an IFC member and shareholder in 1995. Since then, IFC has provided around $2 billion in long-term financing — about $980 million of which was mobilized from partners — in 61 projects in financial services, agribusiness, manufacturing, and infrastructure. In addition, IFC has supported more than $394 million in trade through its trade finance program and implemented a number of advisory projects focused on developing the private sector.