Kyrgyzstan’s Leading Microfinance Institution Becomes Bank
On September 26 microfinance company Bai-Tushum and Partners received preliminary permission from the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic to operate as a bank. Bai-Tushum will be the first new bank in Kyrgyzstan in seven years and the first microfinance institution (MFI) to convert to a bank in Central Asia, according to Bob Fries, who manages ACDI/VOCA’s financial services practice.
Bai-Tushum was established in 2000 by ACDI/VOCA with the support of CARITAS, a Swiss relief agency. It is one of a host of successful financial service institutions founded by ACDI/VOCA across Central Asia.
Today Bai-Tushum is distinguished by a robust portfolio, high rankings from global rating organizations, largely female management and, in addition to 63 locations across the country, an impressive new headquarters building in Bishkek.
Once the formalities are completed, the institution will be known as Microfinance Bank Bai-Tushum and Partners. It will provide a full range of banking services in national and foreign currencies.
Social Mission of Serving Vulnerable Groups Continues as a Priority
Bai-Tushum General Manager Gulnara Shamshieva promised that Bai-Tushum will maintain its social mission and will expand projects to support socially vulnerable groups.
“There will be projects to improve living conditions, finance alternative energy sources, support women entrepreneurs, etc. In the meantime rural residents will get access to reliable, up-to-date and innovative banking services,” she said.
Shamshieva noted that the goal to become a bank was set in 2005. The transition was aided by agreements with the IFC, which helped with a financing package and technical assistance in policies, procedures and operations such as leasing. In July 2011 Bai-Tushum and Partners became the first microfinance organization in Kyrgyzstan to obtain a deposit license.
Supporting Small and Medium-sized Businesses
In its 11 years Bai-Tushum has granted $250 million in loans to more than 134,000 Kyrgyz citizens. Today the company is one of the country’s three largest microfinance organizations, with about 20 percent of the sector’s total loan portfolio.
Bai-Tushum has provided microcredit services to private entrepreneurs, traders, farmers, and micro and small agricultural enterprises. Its loans have ranged from $200 to $30,000. The institution recently received a merit award for financial transparency in a worldwide competition organized by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, a global resource center that promotes high microfinance standards.
According to Shamshieva, Bai-Tushum is now focusing on implementation of banking products, professional service and operational efficiency to expand lending to support small and medium-sized businesses, especially in outlying areas. Bai-Tushum has already launched its new logo reflecting the change in its status and is eager to increase its impact across the Kyrgyz economy.
Learn more about ACDI/VOCA's work in strengthening financial services.