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In a major effort to strengthen the leasing industry in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, IFC, in partnership with Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, has launched the Central Asia Leasing Facility’s technical assistance activity. This is a three-year, US$2mn Swiss-funded programme that aims to improve private sector economic growth, increase access to finance, and create employment through the development of leasing.

Leasing is a medium-term financial instrument that helps private enterprises procure productive assets, based on the proposition that profits are earned through the use, rather than ownership, of assets. Leasing providers focus on the borrower’s ability to generate cashflow from business operations to service the lease payment, not on their balance sheet or previous credit history. This is why leasing is particularly advantageous for new, small, and medium-sized businesses that lack a long credit history and a significant asset base for collateral.

The Central Asia Leasing Facility provides assistance to 13 participating financial institutions engaged in leasing. At the industry level, the facility is working to improve the business climate by removing burdensome legal and regulatory obstacles that hinder the viability of leasing. At the institutional level, efforts strive to build capacity and strengthen systems within the individual financial institutions.

The new technical assistance activity is complemented by a $30 million IFC lease facility for on-lending to participating financial institutions, which in turn will originate leases for small and medium enterprises.