The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a EUR 20m senior loan to AccessBank to finance projects promoted by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Azerbaijan.

This is the EIB’s second loan to AccessBank, a leading bank in Azerbaijan specialised in providing financial services to local micro and SME businesses, which are often restricted in their growth.  In particular, this project is expected to contribute to mitigating the effects of the current credit crisis in the country and improve enterprises’ access to medium and long-term finance on favourable conditions.

Heinz Olbers, Director of the Neighbouring Countries Department at the EIB, said: “We are pleased to renew our partnership with Access Bank, a well-established financial institution with a solid track record as an important lender to the local economy. Small and medium-sized enterprises provide an important share of employment in Azerbaijan. The funding will enable private sector players to modernise their businesses, create new jobs, and support economic and social development.”

AccessBank’s CEO Michael Hoffmann made the following comment on the transaction: “We highly value the support of the EIB, which has been a close partner of ours since it commenced operations in Azerbaijan in 2014. In the light of the current challenging economic environment the transaction is an important signal of trust and confidence from the side of the EIB in our bank and reflects that AccessBank enjoys strong support from its international partners.”

The first EIB credit line of EUR 25m granted to AccessBank in 2014 has been fully disbursed and successfully allocated to the local private sector, reaching out to 122 enterprises mainly in the wholesale and retail (61%), services (17%) and manufacturing (12%) sectors, as well as the agriculture, health and education sectors.

The EIB loan contributes to the objectives of the EIB External Lending Mandate, which focuses on the development of the local private sector, as well as social and economic infrastructure and climate change. In line with the priorities of EU cooperation with Azerbaijan for 2014-2020, the operation will promote more balanced and sustained economic development, focusing on micro and SME businesses, the development of rural areas and poverty reduction, as well as on the economy’s diversification from the gas and oil sectors.