Microlending programme in Latvia exceeds its targets

Article, 07.11.2013

The unemployment ratio in Latvia rose dramatically as a result of the world’s economic and financial crises. The microlending programme makes it easier for micro enterprises and the self-employed to obtain business loans. The aim of the project was to award around 650 microcredits and thus create up to 900 new jobs. 2013 these targets are exceeded: Already 800 microcredits are allocated and approximately 2,000 jobs have been retained or created thanks to the microlending programme.

Woman on a farm in Latvia
A farm in Eleja used the microcredit to buy a new car and seeds. Eight family members are working on the farm. During the peak season four more persons can be employed. SECO

Up to this moment the development bank Hipotēku Banka, which is responsible for implementing the Swiss-Latvian microlending programme, has already allocated 4.6 million lats (8 million CHF) that account for a total of 800 microcredits. This is more than was initially planned under the Swiss-Latvian cooperation programme. By the end of 2014 Hipotēku Banka plans to issue a further 1.6 million lats (2.8 million CHF) as microcredits from the loan-money repaid by the customers to the bank.

If analysed by economic sectors, the majority of loans issued relate to agriculture and forestry – 50% from the total number of loans. Second most popular economic sector is trade (17%), followed by services (10%) and processing (9%). The average amount of the issued loans has been 5,800 lats (10,000 CHF).

Almost one quarter or 23% of the loans have been issued in the Latgale planning region, the same percentage in Vidzeme, 22% in Zemgale and 19% in the Kurzeme planning region.

The Swiss-Latvian microlending programme is being implemented since September 2011. Self-employed people and micro enterprises with up to nine employees can apply for business microcredit of up to 10,000 lats (17,500 CHF). Upwards of 5,000 lats, the borrower must contribute at least 10% equity capital.

“The implementation of the microlending programme has reached one of its key objectives – to foster regional economic activity. 87% of all credits have been allocated to micro enterprises outside Riga. Approximately 2,000 jobs have been retained or created, employing on average 2 -3 persons in each enterprise. The high demand for microcredits can be attributed to the relatively easy access to the loans and the attractive format of the programme.” Jēkabs Krieviņš, deputy chairman of the Board of Hipotēku Banka

Shoe Repair in Cesis
A shoe repair shop in Cesis used the microcredit to procure equipment and tools. In addition, the loan provided a possibility to employ a trainee. Swiss parliamentarians visited this project in September 2013. © SECO

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