Boosting access to finance for women-led small businesses in Albania

Boosting access to finance for women-led small businesses in Albania

Women who run small businesses will benefit from a €5 million EBRD loan to Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Albania (ISBA), Albania’s fourth largest bank.

Intended for on-lending to women-led small businesses in Albania, this loan will help to narrow the gender gap in access to finance and know-how that can hold women back from fuller participation in the economy.

The five-year loan under the EBRD’s Western Balkans Women in Business Programme II follows an €2 million facility from 2015, now fully utilized.

The loan will contribute to greater economic inclusion by supporting women-led micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses’ (MSMEs’) access to finance and business advisory services, while also demonstrating the business case for scaling up lending to women-led firms.

The Women in Business Programme in the Western Balkans is supported by Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden to train bankers on new financial products available to businesswomen as well as to help identify good financing opportunities.

The EBRD’s Women in Business initiative promotes women’s participation in business by enabling small businesses led by women to access the finance and know-how they need to grow.

The programme in the Western Balkans, launched in 2014, to date has provided over €30 million to partner financial institutions for on-lending to women-led SMEs throughout the region. The programme has also helped more than 2400 such firms to access business advice and provided mentoring, the online diagnostic tool Business Lens as well as training and networking opportunities.

The new loan to ISBA will support the introduction of more inclusive and gender-responsive products by the bank. ISBA is a long-standing EBRD client and a fully-owned subsidiary of Intesa Sanpaolo Spa. It is the fourth largest bank in Albania, and has good regional outreach with 34 branches countrywide.

The EBRD has invested around €1.3 billion in 86 projects in Albania.