Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with the lowest per capita GDP of the 15 former Soviet republics. Consumer financial services in the country remain limited and savings mobilisation is among the lowest in the world. The immediate post-Communist period saw a flourishing of banks; however, the sector has since undergone significant consolidation as many of these banks were unsustainable, with consequent implications on the access of the poor to affordable finance.
In this context, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) established the First MicroFinance Bank of Tajikistan (FMFB) in 2003, the first fully licensed commercial bank in the country to have a principal focus on micro-credit lending. In addition to its head office in Dushanbe, FMFB has branches in Khorog, Rasht, Khujand, Kulyab and Kurgan Tube which are supported by a network of Banking Service Centres serving peri-urban and rural areas. The objectives of these operations include reducing poverty, decreasing the vulnerability of poor populations and alleviating economic and social exclusion.
As of December 2010, FMFB had a total loan portfolio in excess of US$ 25 million and a client base of over 12,000 people, 28 percent of whom are female. FMFB’s average loan size is about US$ 2,500 with a repayment rate of over 99 percent. To oversee these loans, FMFB employs a staff of over 400 dedicated professionals.