Manila, Philippines – In a bid to increase access to finance for smaller businesses, especially women-owned ones, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is providing a PHP500m loan to Esquire Financing Inc., a non-bank financing institution (NBFI) in the Philippines. The funding will help drive the economy, creating jobs, and accelerating post-COVID recovery in the country.
Marking as IFC‘s first engagement with an NBFI in the Philippines, the funding will allow Esquire to grow its loan portfolio and better serve women-owned SMEs (WSMEs) during and after the global pandemic. The entire proceeds of the loan will be earmarked for on-lending to WSMEs, which have been severely affected by COVID-19.
Said engagement is also part of IFC’s Base of the Pyramid (BOP) program, is an initiative to help financial services providers deliver funding to small businesses, informal enterprises, and low-income households that have been hit the hardest by the lockdowns and economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative is an expansion of the US$8b Fast-Track COVID Facility that IFC launched in 2020 as part of the World Bank Group’s response to COVID-19.
Rajan Uttamchandani, EFI’s chairman and CEO, said, “We welcome IFC’s support at a critical time when long-term finance for NBFIs is scarce in the market. We differentiate ourselves from other NBFI and bank competitors by focusing exclusively on small businesses. IFC’s loan will help us scale up our business and grow the WSME share of our client base to 67 percent over the next three years. This will allow us to promote market competitiveness, helping the country build back better.”
Meanwhile, Jean Marc Arbogast, IFC country manager for the Philippines, commented, “By supporting a leading NBFI and BOP financier amid a challenging environment, IFC will contribute toward narrowing the financing gap in the country, especially through additional loans to women entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic. We are optimistic that IFC’s loan to Esquire will send a positive signal, strengthening confidence in the NBFI sector, an enabler of economic growth.”