Tajikistan, which gained independence in 1991 following the break-up of the Soviet Union, is the poorest of the 15 former Soviet republics. IMON International is one of the many organizations working to help the economic condition of the Tajik people.
Robiya Kayumova, pictured here, lives in Tajikistan and is a client of IMON International, the largest microfinance institution in Tajikistan. When she first came to IMON, Robiya took a small loan of about $40 to help with her sewing business. Ten years later, Robiya is still a client of IMON, working to support her business of teaching sewing to young Tajik women, and then export the crafts produced by the students.
Robiya is one of over 42,500 clients served by IMON in Tajikistan. And the needs there are great.
After the country became an independent state in 1991, Tajikistan suffered major economic losses in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, hitting especially hard the country’s vital cotton industry. The Tajik Civil War which lasted from 1992 until 1997 left the nation’s already vulnerable economy significantly weaker, causing crippling declines in industrial and agricultural production.
Today, Tajikistan continues to be one of the poorest of the former Soviet republics, with 46.7% of the population living below the national poverty line.
Agriculture continues to employ a majority of the population, most of which is in cotton production. However, with less than 7% of the land available for agricultural production, there is a consistent lack of unemployment, forcing as 1 million Tajik citizens to seek work abroad and support their families through remittances. In 2011, remittances from Russia alone totaled nearly $3 billion, accounting for 45.4% of Tajikistan’s GDP.
IMON International is one of the many organizations working to improve economic conditions of the Tajik people. In 1999, Mercy Corps and the National Association of Business Women of Tajikistan came together to support the establishment of a microcredit program, which became a formally regulated MFI, and four years later transformed into a for-profit institution - IMON International Micro Lending Organization. Today, IMON International is the largest microlending organization in Tajikistan, with aloan portfolio of $45.2 million and 42,503 active borrowers.
The organization’s mission is to “promote economic development in Tajikistan, assist in increasing the quality of life and economic development in the country through providing sustainable access to finance for economically active people in Tajikistan.”
To do so, IMON International provides financial services to micro and small entrepreneurs, as well as consumers. Loan products for entrepreneurs come in three categories: business loans, agriculture loans, and start-up loans. Consumers are also able to receive loans, which can be used for a variety of activities, including building a home and financing education.
Oikocredit has supported IMON International with loans totaling 19.7 million TJS (about $4 million).