In order to increase the access to finance for MSMEs, the Lao Government is supported by the German Government and BMZ through KfW with an amount of EUR 3 million for on lending to eligible partner financial institutions (PFIs), which in turn will provide loans to MSMEs in rural areas with good growth potentials. The financial cooperation is delivered as a revolving fund set up at the Bank of the Lao PDR (BoL) under the name Lao Access to Finance Fund (LAFF) and supported with a TA component implemented by AFC together with ADG.
Based on our needs assessment and the strong interest by BoL, in early November 2018 we prepared and conducted a study tour for assigned LAFF management staff to learn from other similar funds and from their experiences and best practices. The objective of the study tour was to expose the BoL officials who are assigned to work for the LAFF management and operations to similar funds and organizations.
During the one week study tour to Germany and Ukraine, the participants visited a range of organizations and gained insights into various funds such as the Microfinance Enhancement Facility, German Armenian Fund, Green for Growth Fund, Tajikistan Rural Finance Fund and the German Ukrainian Fund (GUF; the picture shows the guests together with the delegation from the National Bank of Ukraine and the participants from GUF). The Fund Manager Finance in Motion added very relevant insights and ideas based on the European Fund for Southeast Europe and the Eco Business Fund.
In addition, the guests could learn from and exchange with various KfW departments on topics such as risk management and bank rating, SME promotion and digitalization.
Not only were the participants enabled to gain and increase their understanding on multi-donor fund management and understand the success factors as well as lessons-learnt of various refinancing facilities, but even more importantly the daily interaction and discussions were used to further strengthen the working relationship and increase commitment and understanding of all stakeholders – Bank of Lao, KfW and the AFC consultants team – for the current and future tasks, challenges and opportunities in the LAFF.