Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (Feb.24-28)

Microfinance volume rose by over a third in Azerbaijan

Volumes of microfinance rose by over a third in Azerbaijan, the chairman of the Azerbaijan Microfinance Association (AMFA), Suleyman Kalyashev said.

The portfolio volume of microfinance organizations, members of AMFA, made up $ 1.105 billion in 2013, which is 36.42 percent higher than last year. For comparison, its volume was $ 810.55 million in 2012. There is no region in the country, which would not have non- bank credit organization (NBCO), the expert said.

"Microfinance institutions serve about 334 million customers. Since the beginning of the agrarian reform in the mid- 90s, when the necessary legislative base was formed, the former collective and state farms were liquidated. More than 850,000 individual farms replaced them. Thus, we can say that microfinance is demanded by at least one third of the total number of owners of these farms," the head of the association said.

Microfinance is needed in countries with developing economies, as it helps to solve many problems of national importance, according to Kalyashev.

"One of these problems is poverty reduction. Significant number of refugees and internally displaced persons, victims of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, received assistance from various foreign foundations and organizations. After some time, these organizations were transformed into NBCO, as demand for such tools not only survived over time, but also continued to grow," he said.

If we pay attention to the world of experience and practice, we can see that, at the present time, this market segment is booming in countries of the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, and it is - a relatively calm situation in developed countries, the expert said.

"Agrarian reforms have been conducted on the territory of these countries in recent past, a large number of owners, private entrepreneurs emerged, which in turn caused the demand for microfinance," Kalyashev said.

The AMFA includes 30 organizations dealing with microfinance institutions in Azerbaijan: eight commercial banks, 20 NBCO and two leasing companies are among them. Total assets of all NBCO operating in the country, made up $4,585 million.
Some 1 percent of the microcredit portfolio is under risk. Total assets of non-bank credit organizations operating in the country amounted to 542.13 million manat, made at the end of 2013 according to the Central Bank of Azerbaijan. In total, there are 43 banks and 148 NBCO, some 111 of which are credit unions.

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