On Thursday the 29th of October 2020, the Bank of Lao PDRin partnership with Agriculture & Finance Consultants (AFC) held a kick-off workshop on the second phase of the Lao Access to Finance Fund - LAFF II capacity building project, to officially present the LAFF II project and work plan.
The Lao Access to Finance Fund was established in 2014 with financial support from the German Government through German Development Bank KfW, for the specific purpose of enhancing access to finance for micro and small enterprises in Laos outside the center of Vientiane Capital and Pakse. A first cycle of credit worth Euro 3 million was initially issued as wholesale loans from LAFF to ACLEDA Bank Lao Ltd as the 1st partner financial institution (PFI) which has successfully issued around 2,300 sub-loans to MSMEs, has paid interest and repaid principal to LAFF, managed by the Bank of Lao PDR (BoL). In 2019, a second PFI, Patoukham DTMFI was selected, received another wholesale loan from LAFF and issued another 65 sub-loans to microenterprises in Vientiane province. With the success of the first phase of the LAFF project, the German Government agreed to provide additional funds worth Euro 6 million to the LAFF project as LAFF II and the second phase of the capacity building project.
The first phase of the LAFF’s Capacity Building Project (LAFF I) started on 4th September 2017 with the technical assistance provided by AFC, and was successfully completed in August 2020. By the completion of the first phase, the LAFF project stakeholders including the Bank of the Lao PDR (BoL) and the German Development Bank (KfW) have acknowledged the achievements so far and jointly agreed to continue the project for the second phase starting from the 1st September 2020 with a project period of 3 years.
According to the proposed work-plan, one of the first activities was to hold a kick-off workshop to enable all partners to agree on the project priorities, work plan and activities as well as the time frame. The main objectives of the workshop are to:
- Present and discuss the draft work-plan for the main activities to be implemented during the 2nd phase of the capacity building project over the next three years;
- Exchange ideas on proposed plans and actions, agree on any changes and receive recommendations for possible actions during the project implementation phase;
- Exchange on the Draft ideas and suggested activities especially for the new components 3 (ESRM), 4 (Digital Finance) and 5 (Green Finance).
The workshop was chaired by H.E Mme. Vathana DALALOY, Deputy Governor of BoL and chair of the LAFF project Steering Committee, and co-chaired by Mr. Jan Wiegelmann, KfW Country Director in Lao PDR. There were 16 participants who took part in the workshop including the LAFF Project Steering Committee members from BoL, the LAFF Management Unit team members from BoL, KFW country office in Lao PDR, and the AFC Consultant TA team. Three of the participants took part on-line as due to the current health crisis they could not travel to Laos to join in person: the KfW project manager from Frankfurt, Germany; the AFC project manager from Bonn, Germany and the AFC team leader from Sri Lanka.
By the end of the workshop, the chair expressed her impression in the designing of the current phase of the capacity building project which is in line with the socio-economic development plan of the Government of Lao PDR for the next 5 years. She provided a strong commitment from the BoL’s side to contribute and lead the project implementation successfully. On behalf of the senior management of BoL, she also expressed her appreciation to the German Government as well as German Development Bank (KfW) for their financial support and AFC for their valuable TA support to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the established Lao Access to Finance Fund (LAFF) within the Bank of Lao PDR.