New country added to our portfolio with Salym in Kyrgyzstan
Written by Lynn Hamerlinck on 4 February 2022
We’re excited to tap into a new region by adding Kyrgyzstan to our portfolio. Lendahand welcomes our first Kyrgyz portfolio company: Salym, a microfinance institution that supports entrepreneurs and people in rural and peri-urban areas, outside of the cities. At the moment, Salym employs 160 people over their 27 offices. They expect to expand to 40 offices in the next five years.
Without mincing words, the poverty rate in Kyrgyzstan is high. 25.3% of the population (6.6 million people) lives below the national poverty line1. One of the keys to fighting this high poverty rate is job creation, and this is where our crowd of investors can make a difference by investing in local entrepreneurs.
Kyrgyzstan's economy depends on the Russian economy for work and remittances. Closed borders and covid lockdowns affected this small economy quite a bit. Now that the pandemic is no longer a novelty and covid cases seem to be stable, the Kyrgyz economy reopened and isn't expecting future lockdowns. It is even expected that the economy will rebound with a 6% GDP growth, as long as no new government restrictions are put in place2.
A large part of the Kyrgyz economy belongs to the informal sector, in which the majority of Salym’s clients are active. Although the informal economy comes with its challenges, it does make the entrepreneurs and workers less dependent on government support and less affected by lockdowns. You can read more about the informal economy here.
Financing for Improvement
Microfinance institution Salym was established in 2007 by four local businessmen to create the necessary financial conditions to support entrepreneurs to develop more economic activities. Salym primarily serves rural areas, where 65% of their clients live. To improve the population's living standards, they offer five different loan products that each make a significant impact on the current economic situation in the country.
Salym’s business loan offerings make up the most significant part of their portfolio with 28%. Clients use them to replenish working capital, transportation, and overall growth of commercial activities.
The main agricultural direction in Kyrgyzstan is animal husbandry. To grow their production, farmers can apply for special agri-loans, making up 19% of Salym's portfolio. Animal husbandry accounts for more than 90% of agricultural loans. The other 10% is for crop production, mainly cereals such as wheat, oats, barley, and corn, and grains such as beans and peas.
Salym also offers competitively priced housing and consumer loans to people with limited income, and mortgages in areas where banks aren't active due to inaccessibility. The company tends to keep a 15-25% range for each category.
Salym positions itself as a socially responsible microfinance organization that contributes to the development of society, the country's economy, and the protection of its environment. They go the extra mile to provide employment and business improvement through their business and agri-loans and be within reach for rural residents who have limited access to banking services. Every year, Salym organizes a Holiday Giveaway on social media with a variety of gifts to win.
Not only do they care about their clients. Salym ensures to be a reliable employer by offering field training and encouraging career development of employees. As there’s a significant outflow of labor resources, it is in the best interest of the company and country to keep motivating and investing in employees. This challenge is also very much alive in Moldova, read more here.
Our crowdfunding platform has more microfinance institutions, such as Salym, in its portfolio. Take a tour of the MFIs you can invest in worldwide in this blog post.
Getting excited to finance Kyrgyz entrepreneurs? Salym’s first project will soon be available on our platform. Keep an eye on our projects page here.