OPIC and DAWN Sign $5 Million Commitment to Support Women Entrepreneurs through Microfinance in Myanmar
May 2, 2017
WASHINGTON – The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has signed a commitment letter for a $5 million loan to Early Dawn Microfinance Company Ltd. (DAWN), a microfinance institution (MFI) whose largest shareholder and operating partner is Accion, a global nonprofit and financial inclusion pioneer headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The OPIC loan will support access to finance for micro and small business-owners in Myanmar, specifically targeting low-income female entrepreneurs who are often the country’s most economically disadvantaged.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Myanmar has the lowest rate of financial intermediation among ASEAN nations and substantial unmet demand for microfinance services. According to the World Bank, less than 23 percent of Burmese have an account with a formal financial institution, and most rely on informal ways to borrow, such as money lenders and pawn shops, which can be very expensive. OPIC’s support to DAWN will help it achieve its goal of reaching 150,000 customers by 2019.
OPIC provides financing to MFIs globally through its investments in microfinance funds, targeted credit facilities to individual MFIs, risk-sharing agreements with other co-lenders and loan guaranties supporting innovative industry efforts. With over $1 billion in current commitments, OPIC provides financing both directly and indirectly to nearly 200 MFIs in more than 50 countries.
OPIC is a self-sustaining, development-driven agency that finances and insures U.S. businesses operating in emerging economies around the world. Support to MFIs is an important means by which OPIC can have an outsized impact on the lives of people living at the base of the economic pyramid in developing countries around the world.
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The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.
OPIC services are available to new and expanding businesses planning to invest in more than 160 countries worldwide. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers. All OPIC projects must adhere to best international practices and cannot cause job loss in the United States.
Early Dawn Microfinance Ltd. (“DAWN”) is a Myanmar-based microfinance institution that provides business loans, top-up loans, and seasonal loans to mostly self-employed market vendors and small manufacturers. About 80% of DAWN’s clientele is based in urban and peri-urban areas while 20% of its portfolio is purely rural. Since its inception in 2015, DAWN has strived to provide high quality financial services to improve businesses and agricultural activities within the low-income and rural populations of Myanmar.
Focused on group lending for low-income female micro-entrepreneurs, DAWN was one of the earliest MFIs established in the Republic of Myanmar. Originally launched in 2002 as a program of Save the Children, DAWN is now a licensed microfinance institution serving around 88,000 clients in 5 Regions. In 2015, Accion, the Dutch Development bank FMO, and Triodos Investment Management formed a consortium and invested in DAWN to establish it as a premier institution that could serve as a model for the country’s nascent microfinance industry and influence the development of the sector.