The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is expanding its support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Kazakhstan through a US$10mn loan to Alliance Bank.

The loan provides Alliance with long-term finance as well as supporting its efforts to serve businesses around the country, on-lending sums of between US$200,000 and US$750,000 to privately-owned companies with fewer than 150 employees.

At least 30% of the facility is earmarked for companies outside the financial capital, Almaty.

Alliance is also joining the EBRD’s grain receipts programme, becoming the seventh Kazakh bank to be trained in lending on security of grain receipts. This will increase competition among local banks in this business sector.

Alliance Bank will receive a credit line for US$5mn under this programme.

Last December, EBRD also agreed a US$10mn trade finance programme line to Alliance. The Kazakh bank also became a partner in the EBRD’s Kazakhstan Small Business Programme umbrella with a separate US$5mn loan, signed in January 2006, to be used for financing micro and small enterprises, including rural and agricultural business.