TBILISI, GEORGIA (10 February 2023) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has invested GEL18.75 million (approximately $7 million) in a 2-year local currency gender bond issuance by Joint Stock Company Microfinance Organization Crystal (Crystal), the largest microfinance institution (MFI) in Georgia. It is the first certified gender bond issuance in the South Caucasus and in the Georgian Stock Exchange, and the first gender bond subscribed by ADB.
The proceeds will finance women-owned micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (WMSMEs). The total bond issuance amounts to GEL 25 million with ADB as the anchor investor and the Bank of Georgia as co-investor with a subscription of GEL 6.25 million. Gender bonds are social bonds issued to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment. Crystal’s gender bond framework received a second party opinion to certify its compliance with the Social Bond Principles of the International Capital Market Association.
“Local currency bonds bridge financing gaps that prevent developing countries from achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, and support sound capital management by the private sector,” said ADB Private Sector Financial Institutions Division Director Christine Engstrom. “This pioneering transaction will also help deepen Georgia’s capital market by raising awareness about thematic bonds aligned to best international standards while supporting improved access to finance for WMSMEs.”
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises play a critical role in Georgia’s economy, accounting for most private firms and providing more than half of all jobs, but their growth is constrained by a lack of access to finance. Women in particular are disproportionately affected due to high collateral requirements and other cultural biases that hamper asset ownership. MFIs play an important role in providing access to finance to low-income borrowers particularly in remote rural areas, which traditional commercial banks are generally reluctant to serve.
“Crystal has always been an active supporter of the sustainable financing and small entrepreneurs, and our efforts have been recognized by numerous corporate awards and investment deals,” stated Crystal’s Chief Executive Officer Ilia Revia. “This transaction demonstrates that ADB and Crystal share a commitment to improving access to finance for women entrepreneurs in Georgia, which will ultimately contribute to the country’s economic development.”
Crystal is the leading financial inclusion organisation and the largest non-banking financial institution in Georgia. It manages a loan portfolio of GEL 400 million, employing more than 1,000 staff, and operating through 50 branches serving more than 130,000 customers across Georgia.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.