ADB approves 165 mln USD loan to support COVID-19 affected SMEs in Sri Lanka

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COLOMBO, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved 165 million U.S. dollars in loan to Sri Lanka for it to provide financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a statement from the ADB office in Colombo said Tuesday.

The loan will also be used to provide long-term financing to underserved SMEs, including businesses led by women and tea smallholders, the statement said.

"COVID-19 has gravely hit Sri Lanka's economy due to the decline in demand and supply chain disruption in export-oriented industries, which has led to an economic slowdown that gradually spread across other sectors," the ADB said.

"Financial support is critical for SMEs to revive their businesses, which account for over 45 percent of total employment and 52 percent of gross domestic product of Sri Lanka," the statement added.

The new financing will build on the existing Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Line of Credit Project, which the ADB approved in 2016 to strengthen SMEs' access to finance.

The project is co-financed with a grant from the G20-led Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) since 2018 to promote women entrepreneurship.

"Through the efficient credit delivery mechanism of the ongoing project, we will swiftly provide affordable working capital loans through 10 local banks for severely affected SMEs in response to COVID-19," said ADB Financial Sector Specialist for South Asia Takuya Hoshino.

"This new loan together with the existing We-Fi grant will further encourage banks to expand their outreach to businesses led by women, to boost long-term economic growth and transformation in the context of a steadily aging population and expected future labor shortage," the expert added.

In April, the ADB approved a 20-billion-U.S.-dollar expanded assistance package to support its developing members' COVID-19 response. Enditem

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