OPIC Board Approves Participation in a $250 Million Global Microfinance Financing Program with Citi
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) today approved up to $250 million to expand a successful partnership with Citi that provides microfinance lending to borrowers in emerging markets worldwide. The facility has the potential to reach more than 480,000 borrowers.
OPIC will risk participate in Citi originated and funded local currency loans to microfinance institutions (MFIs), which in turn make small loans to micro-borrowers in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The project represents the expansion of a $100 million OPIC-Citi microfinancing funding facility launched in December 2006. Under this program, Citi and OPIC are providing financing to 23 MFIs in 13 countries.
“The global economic crisis has significantly curtailed microfinance lending, raising the cost of lending and causing liquidity problems for many MFIs,” said OPIC Acting President Dr. Lawrence Spinelli. “MFIs need access to markets and funding to continue their work. By expanding an existing – and successful – microfinancing facility with Citi, OPIC is working proactively to help address this shortfall.”
Dr. Spinelli noted that OPIC and Citi’s Export and Agency Financing group have partnered in providing financing to emerging-market borrowers for more than a decade, through a series of risk-sharing arrangements set forth in framework guaranty facility agreements: as of June 30, OPIC had 18 such framework agreements with Citi. To date, there have been no payment defaults on any of the guaranteed loans.
Citi works globally with over 100 microfinance institutions, networks and investors in more than 40 countries, as clients and partners, with the objective of expanding access to financial services, including savings, financing, remittances, and insurance, on a scalable and sustainable basis.
“Citi has long been committed to globally expanding access to financial services to microentrepreneurs. Leveraging Citi’s emerging markets presence, this new Citi/OPIC $250 million Global Program will provide incremental funding to achieve our shared objectives of supporting microentrepreneurship and stimulating economic growth,” said Vikram Pandit, Chief Executive Officer of Citi.
OPIC uses the framework agreements to mobilize private capital in host countries, extend the term of available financing in support of local development, and increase host country liquidity. The agreements enable OPIC to efficiently channel private capital to support host-country developmental needs by leveraging in-country bank skills and assets.
The microfinance sector has experienced rapid growth and attracted significant investment, particularly from the private sector. However, only a small portion of those that lack access to financial services are currently served. A wide spectrum of microfinance institutions continue to be in the forefront of designing and delivering appropriate financial services to the unbanked. This program will support MFIs to expand their outreach and achieve scale in financing microentrepreneurs around the world.
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