In December 2021, OeEB signed a EUR 15 million bilateral credit facility with Annapurna Finance, one of India's leading microfinance institutions. The funds will be used to finance microfinance and small loans to women for income-generating and income-increasing activities in predominantly rural areas and for women-owned - largely informal - micro and small enterprises.

Project name Annapurna Finance Private Limited
Region Southern and Eastern Asia
Sector Financial sector / Microfinance / SME
Service Investment Finance
Project country India 
Project volume EUR 15  million
Project partner(s) Annapurna Finance Private Limited

Women in India often have limited access to banking services and credit due to lack of collaterals. Annapurna Finance therefore aims to provide financial support to low-income women entrepreneurs, who are excluded from mainstream financial services, in order to improve the livelihoods of their households and promote an economically productive environment. With an average micro-loan size of the equivalent of EUR 480 per borrower, Annapurna Finance enables e.g. the purchase of agricultural seeds (e.g. rice, vegetable plants), equipment (e.g. tractor, plough), dairy and livestock (e.g. goats, poultry), as well as the establishment of shops or handicraft work. To a small extent - around 11 % of the portfolio - Annapurna Finance also provides loans to existing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). In addition, it is increasingly developing microloans in the "green finance" sector, such as for the purchase of sanitary equipment, solar lamps and e-rickshaws.

Annapurna Finance emerged from the NGO People's Forum and changed to its current name in 2018. In 2021, the microfinance institution was present in 18 Indian states with 870 branches and served over 1.8 million clients, mostly in rural areas, with around 7,300 employees. Annapurna Finance is certified according to the Client Protection Principles of the Smart Campaign, one of the most renowned awards for microfinance institutions, which protect borrowers from over-indebtedness and ensure responsible lending.

OeEB's credit line is intended to support Annapurna Finance in expanding its business activities and subsequently opening new branches, especially in rural areas. This will not only contribute to strengthening the private sector and reducing poverty in India, but above all to gender equality in one of the regions with the highest gender gap in the world.

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