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IFC Helps BFL Expand Financing to Small and Medium Enterprises in Lao PDR

Vientiane, Lao PDR, May 19, 2017 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has committed a loan of $10 million to BFL Ltd. to finance small and medium enterprises in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. With this, the lender aims to double its SME loan portfolio to more than $100 million by 2020.
While SMEs employ up to 70 percent of the total labor force in Lao PDR, they contribute only around 16 percent to the country’s gross domestic product, much lower than their peers in other regional nations. Lack of access to finance is a key obstacle to their business growth and contribution to the economy. L ess than 20 percent of SMEs can access long-term credit, which makes it difficult for them to grow and compete against other SMEs in Asia.
Drilling down further into the SME segment, there is significant capacity and opportunity for women entrepreneurs to develop more businesses in Laos if they can access bank financing. Majority of them tend to use savings or informal funding to fulfil their financing needs, and this hampers the growth potential of their businesses.
This loan will help BFL expand its outreach to SMEs, especially women-owned businesses as it has been proactively enabling women entrepreneurs in Laos to access finance and providing tailored financial solutions as well as financial education and support.
“There are significant opportunities for business women in Lao PDR and we have seen many of them develop successful companies that have thrived in the growing Lao economy,” said Bounmy Sengphachan, Deputy Managing Director of the BFL Commercial Division. “We believe that there are many more women entrepreneurs in the country, who with the right financial support and advice can also develop successful businesses.”
This is IFC’s second investment supporting the bank as a long-term partner. In 2015, IFC provided a risk guarantee facility for BFL’s portfolio of loans to women-owned SMEs in Lao PDR; enabling BFL and IFC to share the potential risk arising from the future portfolio of credit to women businesses.
“IFC shares BFL’s strong vision and commitment to provide financing to small and medium enterprises,” said Phongsavanh Phomkong, IFC Head of Lao PDR. “Access to long-term funding will help SMEs expand business and improve competitiveness, contributing to job creation and poverty reduction in the country.”
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY16, we delivered a record $19 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org
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About BFL
BFL Ltd., is a joint venture between BRED Banque Populaire, second largest bank in France and BCEL, the first commercial bank in Lao PDR. Since 2008, BFL has established itself as the Leading International Bank that provides full service banking to Laos and expat customers. With over 170 employees and 22 service units spread across the country, we have the expertise, products and channels to serve corporates, SME and individual customers. In 2016 BFL get awarded Best Bank of the Year by the Financial Times and Best SME bank by Global Business Outlook. Forr further information, visit our website www.bfl.la or follow us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/banquefrancolao/ .