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New Microfinance Development Project is in Operation

A new project of UNDP, which was officially launched yesterday at the press-center of the National Bank of Belarus, will help to improve access of population and small business to finance and credit resources by developing microfinance services and raising financial culture.

Today microfinance is not only widely used by many countries as an effective tool for achieving the highest state policy priorities in supporting the development of small business, but also has become an inalienable part of national finance and credit systems. According to the Center for Microfinance, in 2007 the microfinance market of Central and Eastern European states (including CIS countries) grew by 40 percent.

“At the same time, according to analysis of microfinance services in Belarus, which was carried out by the UNDP Office in Minsk within the International Year of Microcredit, despite certain recent positive tendencies, microfinance in Belarus is still at its prime stage lagging far behind the rest of CIS countries”, UNDP Programme Officer Liudmila Istomina said.

The objectives of the new project are as follows: to develop a Microfinance Development Concept and propose specialized legislation on microfinance for effective developing microfinance institutions in Belarus, to improve capacity of the banking and non-banking sectors in microfinance, and to improve public awareness of microfinance and financial literacy levels.

In particular, a Council for Microfinance Development will be established within the project. The Council will coordinate and consolidate the efforts of various national and international organizations providing microfinance services for population. It will also supervise the elaboration of the Concept of Microfinance Development in Belarus, which will lay the ground for the development of an adequate legal framework.

Banks, non-banking organizations and other interested parties will benefit from training workshops involving experts from microfinance training centres in Russia and other European states. The project will organize a special training course titled “Planning your future” for wider audience. This course has already been successfully tested in Poland and the Russian Federation.

“Improving access of population as a whole and small business in particular to finance resources is one of the priorities of the National Bank of Belarus”, pointed out Dr. Vasiliy Matiushevskiy, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus. “We have already carried out a number of activities aimed at simplifying the loan issuing procedures, and we expect the UNDP new project will help Belarus advance significantly in developing the national microfinance system”.

For more information please contact Project Manager Yuri Malafey, tel. 219-23-80, or UNDP Communications Associate Vladislav Khilkevich, tel. 227-38-17, e-mail: .

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