OPIC commits $8 million to support small farmer microlending in Myanmar
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, has committed $8 million to Proximity Finance to support expanded micro lending to rural borrowers, primarily smallholder farmers, in Myanmar.
OPIC Chief of Staff Eric Jones and Proximity Designs CEO Jim Taylor, and Proximity Finance Head of Finance Sein Nwe Oo signed the commitment. The Skoll Foundation, a long-term supporter of Proximity Finance, has committed an additional $2 million of subordinated debt as part of the co-financing package, according to a press release from the US Embassy on 3 April.
In Myanmar, agriculture employs 60% of the labor force and contributes roughly 30% of total GDP, but limited access to credit in rural communities continues to restrict the sector’s growth.
Without formal financial services, borrowers in these regions are often forced to accept high interest rates from informal lenders, or pawn their land and other assets for capital.
Proximity Finance, which designs its loans to meet the particular needs of smallholder farmers, is the microfinance arm of Proximity Designs, a social enterprise dedicated to serving Myanmar’s rural families.
Photo courtesy of KX Studio.